For EWG part 1 click here.  One of the biggest problems with the EWG is that they list hazards for chemicals and potential negative health outcomes from information gathered from scientific literature in the absence of adequate data, and then don’t address the actual risk of harm.   Risk = hazard x exposure, and the dose makes the poison.  Another big red flag is the “donate” button on their web site.  Shouting that ingredient x is in a product, (but at a very low dose), then listing the probable effects of using that ingredient at full-strength does nothing for public trust and is sleazy.

Scaring consumers about cosmetic ingredients

Scaring Consumers for profit

Risk assessment is important.  It gathers info from many different scientific entities such as toxicology, environmental exposure, epidemiology etc.   The FDA, CDC, OSHA, WHO and many other regulatory agencies use risk assessment to try to understand human exposure to a compound or ingredient, with the likelihood of a bad health outcome, and that’s what helps to set exposure limits.

Part of evaluating risk, is the dose response assessment; how much you need of a chemical to see a negative health outcome.  What’s important here is the type of exposure and how long that exposure occurs- to what extent people are exposed to a chemical (daily, for a few seconds?, the concentration of the chemical, how much chemical enters the body, the threshold effects, and if it’s a possible carcinogen).  When toxicology (animal) studies are used for risk estimates,  we have to keep in mind that animals are not people, they are often given extremely exaggerated doses of a chemical,  and it’s difficult to extrapolate that data to humans.  When scientists evaluate chemicals there should be a discussion on the limitations of the risk assessment when there is scarce data to go on.

Another important factor in assessing the impact of chemicals is the idea of association and causation.  For example if the number of storks was increasing at the same time as the number of babies born, one might try to tie them together and claim storks were bringing the babies.  When there is a statistical fact or association presented in research papers, it still doesn’t allow you to declare a true causal relationship.

The only source I trust in terms of ingredient safety is the Cosmetic Ingredient Review.  If you hadn’t guessed, I despise scare tactics.

One of the more brilliant critiques of the EWG written by cosmetic chemist Perry Romanowski.  Read it here

(Jenny Splitter writes about the EWG exploitation of the public- especially women.

Sources: Center for Consumer Freedom.
















One of the more brilliant critiques of the EWG written by cosmetic chemist Perry Romanowski.  Read it here

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