10 Harmful Chemicals Banned in Europe But Safe in the US

We have already known that Europe is very different than the US. The differences between those two are not just about art, culture or food. Other difference that may confuse many people is their different attitude toward potential harmful chemicals in both food and cosmetics.

EU, by its EU Cosmetics Regulation has banned over 1300 chemicals from use in cosmetics. In other side, FDA, The US Food and Drugs Administration only bans 11 chemicals. Here is the list of chemicals banned in Europe but safe in the US:

1. Coal Tar

Artificial dyes have been around for decades. They are used to make unappealing food look more edible and enticing. Examples of artificial dyes are Yellow 6 and Red 40. What are they made by?

Both Yellow 6 and Red 40 are made from chemical banned in Europe but safe in the US, which is coal tar. Inside human body, coal tar will break down into aromatic amines, organic compounds that have been known as carcinogenic. Other chemicals that may be found in coal tar are Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), also carcinogenic.

2. Olestra

Next in chemicals banned in Europe but safe in the US is olestra. Olestra was developed by P&G. It is said to be a zero calorie, fat-like polymer that tastes like fat but isn’t digested.

No wonder, the label made it approved by FDA, as a calorie free, fat free, cholesterol free chemical in diet versions of food products such as chips, frozen yoghurt, etc. Instead of pass through body, Olestra is later linked to gastrointestinal disease in children, terrible diarrhea in adults and is also found to increase appetite. The label made may sounds great, but the side effects are worse than expected.

3. Avobenzone

You can find avobenzone in some chemical sunscreens. Totally different from the advantage of sunscreen to your skin, it turns out that avobenzone is very unstable and breaks down easily. This means that it releases free radicals, destructive molecules hurting your cells, causing early aging and even lead you to cancer. So, you better be more careful on what ingredients exist in your sunscreen. More about chemicals approved by FDA in cosmetics in  FDA List of Approved Cosmetic.

4. Titanium Dioxide

Other chemical in sunscreens that you should aware is titanium dioxide. It contains nanoparticles which blocks UV rays. They may do the function well, but their small size make them also able to penetrate to your skin. The dangerous is that those particles potentially have a toxic effect on the brain, increase risk of nerve damage and carcinogen.

5. Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO)

Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO) is banned in Europe, Japan, Banned Chemicals in Japan  and elsewhere, but not in the US. In the US, you can find the chemical in sugary beverages with citrusy flavors like Mountain Dew. The chemical is derived from vegetable oil and used to helps citrus flavors stay mixed together.

Bromine, from BVO can accumulate within body. People who drink beverages containing BVO may experience skin and nerve problems. It is also reported that bromine may cause memory loss and other health issues. 

6. Quaternium-15

Quaternium-15 is one of the chemicals banned in Europe but safe in the US. It is used by manufacturers to keep their makeup last as long as possible. The chemical is preservative that can be found in various cosmetic products, from nail polish remover to eyeshadow.

Actually, the invention of this formula in makeup is all great. What you should underline is that this chemical can release another chemical which is dangerous. The chemical released by Quaternium-15 is formaldehyde. It is carcinogenic and linked to various breathing problems.

7. P-Phenylenediamine

P-Phenylenediamine, also known as PPD, is used in hair dyes. It is banned in Europe because PPD may cause very bad allergic reactions and sensitivity. Originally, it belonged to family of coal tar and were derived from coal. Now, it is derived from petroleum. We have already known that both of coal tar and petroleum are banned in Europe. Related to Banned Chemicals in Cosmetics in Europe.

8. Synthetic Growth Hormones

Naturally, a hormone called Bovine Somatotropin (BST), occurs in the pituitary glands of cows. A biotech company then synthesized large quantities of BST in the lab.  Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin (rBST), a manmade hormone, instead of its invention is banned in Canada, Japan, Israel and Europe.

Those countries ban the synthetic hormone because it may cause human and animal health issues. Also known as rBGH, studies show it makes 25% higher chance of developing mastitis, 40% decrease in fertility and 55% increase in animals to become lame. Yet, FDA have approved the use of this synthetic hormone since 1993. 

9. Azodicarbonamide (ADA)

Azodicarbonamide (ADA) is considered safe to be used in food by FDA. It is a chemical additive, a whitening agent and dough conditioner. ADA can be found in yoga mats. Meanwhile, food contains ADA are cereal flour and bread dough. World Health Organization (WHO) has already stated that it is potentially carcinogenic. More about food additives in Banned Food Additives In Many Countries.

10. Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)

The last in the list of the chemicals banned in Europe but safe in the US is Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT). It is also related to Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA). Both of them are added to foods and cosmetics as antioxidants which prevent products from going rancid.

Both BHA and BHT can be found in various cosmetic and food products. They are made from petroleum. Cereal, nut mixes, gum, butter, meat, dehydrated potatoes and beer are examples of food containing those chemicals. The ban of those two in several countries but the US is because they are considered to be human carcinogen. You may want to know more about chemicals related to food in Chemicals in Food (Good and Dangerous Ingredients).