Last week, Coop Denmark informed its suppliers that all purchases of cosmetic products containing PFAS will be stopped immediately, even those from well-known international brands. With no more purchases being made, PFAS in cosmetics will disappear completely from the shelves of Coop Denmark by early September 2019.
“We have a great focus on protecting our customers from exposure to chemical substances that can contribute to a harmful cocktail effect. By taking the lead, we hope that the entire international beauty industry can be encouraged to find better alternatives”, says Malene Teller Blume, Quality Manager at Coop Denmark, in a press release.
Last year, ChemSec reported on the decision of six of the world’s biggest cosmetics brands to start phasing out PFASfrom their products.
The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation had started an internet campaign to bring attention to the problem, resulting in over 1,500 consumers sending e-mails to cosmetics producers around the world, encouraging them to remove these hazardous chemicals from their products.
“We hope the entire international beauty industry can be encouraged to find better alternatives”
“It means a lot when companies are responsible and go beyond the flawed legislation”, Karin Lexén, the General Secretary of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, said at the time.
Now, Coop Denmark is taking it one step further by discontinuing all purchases of cosmetics containing PFAS until safer alternatives are available. Theresa Kjell, Senior Business and Policy Advisor at ChemSec, applauds Coop Denmark for taking concrete actions and leading the way:
“This decision sends such a firm message to other brands, and to consumers, that this is not okay. Hopefully, this initiative will inspire other retailers to do the same”.
For the Danish retailer, this is not the first time it has taken similar steps to protect its customers.
“This decision sends such a firm message to other brands, and to consumers, that this is not okay”
In 2015, they completely stopped the sale of microwave popcorn in their stores because they had found that the popcorn bags were lined with PFAS. Five months later, Coop’s supplier had found a technical solution to the problem and could offer them bags without a fluorinated chemical coating, bringing microwave popcorn back to the shelves.
PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) is a group of more than 4,700 man-made substances created to repel grease, dirt and water. They are found everywhere in society, for example in products such as make-up and clothes, as well as in food items and drinking water.
They are, however, associated with cancer, liver damage, immune system effects and other severe harm to people who are exposed to them. They are also very mobile and persistent in the environment, causing them to accumulate in fish and other wildlife – including humans.
A couple of months ago, scientists from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) warned that the levels of tolerable daily intake for the two most prominent chemicals in this group – PFOA and PFOS – could be much lower than they had previously thought.
“The spreading of these chemicals cannot be reversed and should be taken very seriously”
The preliminary study actually suggested that the tolerable daily intake should be cut by 99,9%.
“It is high time for action to phase out this extremely persistent group of substances as we see rising levels in, for example, food and drinking water. The spreading of these chemicals cannot be reversed and should be taken very seriously”, concludes Theresa Kjell.