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Imported Cosmetics Unhealthy, Environmental Watchdog Says

By Soh Ji-young
Staff Reporter
Well-known imported cosmetic brands contain an endocrine disrupter known as phthalate,
considered harmful to health, the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement (KFEM), a
leading environmental group, said yesterday.

They include such popular perfumes as Christian Dior’s Poison, Chanel No. 5, Lancome’s
Tresor, Calvin Kline’s Eternity and Tommy Hilfiger’s Tommy Girl. Several hair spray and
mousse products made by Wella and Finesse also contained the substance, the group said.

The European organizations Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, Health Care Without
Harm and Women’s Environmental Network also discovered the substance in an inspection of
34 perfumes, deodorants and hair products sold in Sweden and England.

Among those inspected, 80 percent were found to contain phthalate and 53 percent of the
products contained two types of the substance.

Commonly added to plastics to make them flexible, phthalate is used mainly in products
made from polyvinyl chloride and are also used in cosmetics, such as solvents for
perfumes.

As it is known to damage the liver and kidney and affect reproduction, many countries
have prohibited its use in toys and other products used by children.

“Foreign cosmetics take up 30 percent to 40 percent of our market share. This indicates
that Koreans are also exposed to the dangers of phthalate,’’ Yoo Eui-sun, a researcher
at the Citizens’ Institute for Environmental Studies of KFEM, said.

The European Union has recently decided to ban the use of two types of phthalate, DEHP
and DBP, in cosmetics, but the government has yet to introduce any regulation of
cosmetics here, Yoo said.

“Inspections must be carried out of domestic and foreign cosmetic products sold here to
find out the phthalate levels while drawing up environmental standards regulating use of
the substance in cosmetics,’’ he said.

jysoh@koreatimes.co.kr

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