1million bounty offered for UK's first chemical-free product

23 February 2010

The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) has announced a 1 million bounty to the first person who can crack the impossible: create a product that the RSC considers to be 100% chemical-free. 

The challenge has been set as research by the UK's cosmetic and toiletries industry reveals 52% of women and 37% of men actively seek out chemical-free products, demonstrating the deep-seated public confusion about the role and application of chemicals in daily life.

The RSC made the announcement at a media event in central London hosted by the UK's Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA). The event, entitled "The Facts About Chemicals", explored the popular perception of chemicals as something harmful to be avoided, a view shared by 84% of consumers who feel at some level concerned about the health impact of the chemicals in their everyday products.

Speaking at the event, Dr Richard Pike, Chief Executive of the RSC, spoke of how misleading product claims can fuel consumers' fears: " "If products are marketed as 'chemical-free' as though that's not only possible, but actually desirable, it's no wonder some consumers might feel concerned about the safety of chemicals. To raise awareness of how impossible 'chemical-free' is as a claim, I'm challenging anyone to place in my hand a material I consider to be chemical-free. The truth, as any right-minded person will say, is that everything we eat, drink, drive, play with and live in is made of chemicals - both natural and synthetic chemicals are essential for life as we know it."

Dr Chris Flower, a toxicologist and Director-General of the CTPA, unveiled the cosmetics industry's contribution to balancing out the chemicals debate: a new online resource at www.thefactsabout.co.uk. It aims to answer the public's top concerns about chemicals in cosmetics and toiletries with science-based facts from a range of industries and organisations, including the British Association of Dermatologists and Sense About Science. 

Dr Flower spoke of the vital role of the internet in giving consumers more balanced information. He said: "Our research shows that when the media runs a scary story about the safety of chemicals, around half of online consumers go online to search for more information. With hundreds of sites promoting so-called safer, chemical-free products, we felt it was important to provide a source of scientific facts about the safety of chemicals. We hope to reassure consumers and help them make up their own minds about what they buy."

Commenting on the new online resource, Dr Pike said: "It will help to reduce some of the confusion about chemicals so that people can make better-informed decisions and choices in their daily lives. Any measures industry can take to promote a more science-based understanding of chemicals, and the very positive role they play in our everyday lives, can only be a good thing."

This article was updated on 02 September 2011.

Related Link

Link icon Facts about chemicals
The CTPA's new website section, providing useful information about chemicals in the context of cosmetics

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