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European safety committee to comment on nitrosamines in cosmetics

By Katie Bird , 13-Jan-2011
Last updated the 13-Jan-2011 at 12:33 GMT

The European Committee for Consumer Safety (SCCS) has been asked to provide an opinion on the presence of potentially carcinogenic contaminants in cosmetic products.

According to the SCCS, nitrosamines can be present at low levels as contaminants in many products including cosmetics, certain beverages and rubber products such as balloons.

Under the Cosmetic Directive there are limits for the presence of the nitrosamine, N-nitrosodiethanolamine (NDELA) in cosmetic products (50 micrograms per kilo) and those that exceed these limits are thought to pose serious risks.

However, according to the SCCS not all authorities agreed that the health risks posed by such cosmetics are serious, with some arguing that levels significantly above those currently started in the Directive only posed negligible risks.

For this reason, two member state expert meetings were organised in order to discuss what levels pose a serious risk to human health in 2009 and 2010.

The SCCS has now been asked by the Commission to produce a scientific opinion on the matter, concentrating on the following points:

a) is an additional lifetime cancer incidence of 1 x 10 to the minus 6 a suitable and practical approach to differentiate between serious and less than serious risks.

b) assess which virtually safe dose value should be used

c) assess if an additional safety factor of 3 is suitable for children

d) calculate the concentrations of NDELA in cosmetics that would correspond to an additional lifetime cancer incidence of 1 x 10 to the minus 6.

The SCCS is expected this spring.

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