New Canadian Bans on Personal Care Toxins: Health Canada, Environment Canada Assessment of Common Chemicals
New Canadian regulations will be established to limit toxic chemicals and carcinogens found in everyday items like antiperspirant, lipstick, hair conditioner, skin care products, paints, and plastics. Canada’s federal government has issued joint reports by Health Canada and Environment Canada (January and February 2009) highlighting the toxic risk of certain chemicals and planning to restrict their use in the future.
The chemicals that are to be restricted include the siloxanes (silicone compounds) D4 and D5, thiourea, TTBP, isoprene, pigment yellow 34, pigment red 104, aluminum chloride, aluminum nitrate, aluminum sulphate, and epichlorohydrin.
Toxic Chemicals a Hazard to the Environment and to Health
Many of the chemicals in common use in personal care products and by industry have not been considered by the Canadian government since the first pollution laws in the 1980’s. Present-day assessments are finding that many of the chemicals people are exposed to daily have known cancer risks or pose a serious hazard when released into the environment.
Carcinogens and Other Health Hazards
Of the chemicals that are to be restricted, several are worrisome for their health risks:
• Isoprene is a carcinogen and may damage the thymus gland.
• Thiourea is a genetic mutagen, causing cancer by altering genetic material. It also causes thyroid goiters.
• Epichlorohydrin reacts with water to form the food carcinogen 3-MCPD.
• The synthetic colours “C.I. pigment yellow 34” and “C.I. pigment red 104” have been linked to cancer.
• Aluminum compounds (found in most deodorants, antiperspirants, and some other cosmetics) are said to accumulate in brain tissue and have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Isoprene and Epichlorohydrin will be added to the Cosmetic Ingredients Hotlist and banned from cosmetics.
Canada on Environmental Poisons D4, D5
Several other compounds are to be placed on the restricted list because they are hazardous to natural environments, especially to fish and other aquatic wildlife:
The silicone compounds or siloxanes known as D4 and D5 are being dismissed as a health hazard due to their low concentrations in most personal care products – they occur in almost anything with a smooth, silky texture and are used as emollients to soften hair and skin.
Despite their “low concentration” in personal care products, they pose a significant danger to fish, plants, and other wildlife when released into the environment and Environment Canada and Health Canada deem it necessary to limit their use.
New Regulations to Restrict These Chemicals
These new reports make Canada the first country to discuss limiting some of these chemicals. Environmentalists in other countries are praising this move to restrict toxins and encouraging other governments to follow Canada’s lead.
“Today’s move by Canada is not only important for the health of its citizens,” says Jane Houlihan, research VP of Washington, DC’s Environmental Working Group. “It helps underscore the need for real reforms within the EPA’s failed programs to regulate toxins in the U.S.”