26 November 2008 "The precautionary principle cannot be a principle of inaction." During the symposium"Chemical environment, reproduction and child development" held on 25 November in Paris, Roselyne Bachelot echoed the growing number of voices in the scientific community denouncing the effects of certain chemical substances, even at very low doses.
A logo warning against reprotoxic products will certainly not be affixed to the cosmetics concerned as of tomorrow (the minister specified that the measure was"to be negotiated with industry"…), but already, the INPES (Institut national de prévention et d'éducation pour la santé) has been seized and should orchestrate, for pregnant women and health professionals, an information campaign on the potential risks related to the use during pregnancy of certain chemical substances.
In line of fire: RMCs and cocktails
At the same time, Roselyne Bachelot announced her intention to order from Inserm (Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale)"a collective expertise on the mutagenesis and reprotoxicity of chemicals, in particular products classified CMR3" (Carcinogens, Mutagens, Category 3 Reprotoxics, see the explanation of this term in the Cosmetic glossary ), and stated that it would intervene at European level'to ensure that the quantitative and qualitative composition of cosmetics is known, while respecting industrial secrecy'.
At the same time, the Secretary of State for Ecology, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, affirmed her desire to"go further" and to be"tougher" for the"substance cocktails" present in our environment, also wishing that"a precautionary principle a priori and not a posteriori" be put in place for nanotechnologies.
What effects in legislation?
Beyond the announcement effect, what can we expect from these measures? Nothing formidably concrete in the immediate future, of course. Their implementation depends on the good will of the cosmetics industry (its representatives assured that it was"ready to give its full cooperation to the health authorities") but also on the still incomplete scientific knowledge on the compounds in question.
In any case, they reveal an awareness at the highest level of the dangers linked to the use of certain compounds present in hygiene and beauty products. They are no doubt also heralding a new era in the world of cosmetics: an era in which it will no longer be possible to claim that everything is fine in the best possible jar of cream, a new regulation (yet to be drawn up) concerning certain compounds, with a re-evaluation of the permitted doses and, finally, the consideration of the cocktail effect. To be continued!