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EU bans 22 hair dye substances on consumer safety fears

By Simon Pitman , 24-Jul-2006

The European Commission has banned 22 hair dye substances following research by its Scientific Committee that links certain product to an increased risk of bladder cancer.

The ban, which comes into effect on 1 December, is part of the Commission's strategy to establish a list of hair dye substances that are considered safe for human health.

As part of this effort the Scientific Committee has submitted 115 files from manufacturers on hair dye substances that will be evaluated by the EU's Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP).

The European Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association, Colipa, said that it fully endorsed the Commission's move but hinted that more work is still to be done in order to fully establish which hair dye substances are safe.

"The Commission strategy foresees a ban of the remaining hair colouring ingredients," Colips said in a statement. "Although this does not necessarily mean that theses substances are unsafe, the cosmetics industry fully supports this regulatory measure."

Colipa added that the hard work of the European Commission and international scientific bodies had made hair dyes one of the most thoroughly tested, and consequently, one of the safest consumer products on the market.

European Commission vice-president for industry policy, Günter Verheugen, said of the decision, "Substances for which there is no proof that they are safe will disappear from the market. Our safety standards do not only protect EU consumers, they also give legal certainty to the European cosmetics industry."

The ban will come into effect for any permanent and non-permanent hair dyes for which either no safety files have been submitted or else the SCCP has an unfavourable opinion of.

The study included a public consultation demanding manufacturers to product safety files for their hair dyes proving they did not pose a health risk. The SCCP is now considering the 115 files, which should lead to a response by October.

The Commission added that since banning the 22 substances it has had no reaction from the cosmetic industry, leading it to believe that 'the ban will not significantly impact the competitiveness of the hair dye manufacturers'.

The 22 substances that have been banned are listed on this pdf document, published by the Commission.

According to the Commission the EU market for hair dyes was valued at €2.6bn in 2004, of which 70 - 80 per cent account for permanent dyes. In the general population 60 per cent of women use hair dye, whereas 5 - 10 per cent of males use it with a frequency of 6 - 8 times a year.

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