January 30, 2017 Articles

Skin in the Game: Potential Skin Hazards from Consumer Products

By Joel M. Cohen and Thomas A. Lewandowski

The potential for chemicals in consumer products to cause skin damage is receiving increased attention from regulatory agencies, product manufacturers, and the legal community. Epidemiologists report that about 15–20 percent of the general population has experienced some form of allergic skin reaction. M. Peiser et al., "Allergic Contact Dermatitis: Epidemiology, Molecular Mechanisms, In Vitro Methods and Regulatory Aspects," 69 Cellular & Molecular Life Scis., No. 5, 763–81 (2012). Reports of skin irritation or sensitization are increasingly the basis of product recalls or claims in class action law suits. For example, in August 2016, McDonald's recalled around 33 million activity tracker wristbands initially distributed in "Happy Meals" following several reports of skin irritation or burns after wearing the bands. Press Release, McDonald's, Media Statement: McDonald's USA and Canada Voluntarily Recall Step-iT Activity Bands (Aug. 23, 2016). In March 2016, several lawsuits were filed alleging irritation and rashes associated with a deodorant. The plaintiffs have sought class certification although their initial filings were recently rejected. Melissa Daniels, "P&G Beats Old Spice Chemical Burn, Skin Rash Suit for Now," Law360, Oct. 4, 2016.

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