Weak regulation of the United States cosmetics industry has meant that many personal care products contain harmful ingredients linked to reproductive and developmental health problems. WE ACT for Environmental Justice has collaborated with students from the Touro School of Pharmacy to study ethnic personal care products in Northern Manhattan.
The project took three approaches: mapping local beauty salons, supply shops, and non beauty related stores where ethnic products were sold, identifying products with ingredients of concern, and creating a survey to gather information on product usage and awareness of risks.
The presence of ethnic personal care products sold in pharmacies, discount chains, and corner stores in Northern Manhattan, revealed more than 600 non beauty related points of source in addition to the 348 beauty salons, supply stores, and hair braiding shops in the area. Survey implementation at community events also allowed for data collection on the frequency of product usage and community awareness of associated health risks.
Given the prevalence of ethnic personal care products sold in Northern Manhattan stores and use among residents, WE ACT is advocating for chemical policy that will better protect consumers against potentially harmful ingredients in personal products. Future steps may include the testing of commonly used ethnic products, presenting information on toxic ingredients to local schools, and collaborating with interested community stakeholders.
By supporting legislation that regulates the use of harmful chemicals in cosmetics, WE ACT seeks to prevent dangerous chemical exposure and improve Northern Manhattan's healthy living environment as a whole.