Do fracking chemicals also give lip service?

    Are fracking chemicals in your lipstick? Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett seems to think so.

    When Radio Times host Marty Moss-Coane interviewed Corbett this week, she asked about public disclosure of the chemicals used to drill for natural gas. Corbett then had a question of his own.

    “When it comes to the chemicals, well I’ve seen pamphlets of what’s in the chemicals … many of those chemicals … Do you have lipstick on right now?” he said.

    “I do,” she replied.

    “It might be in your lipstick,” he warned.

    Comparing the list of fracking chemicals and the ingredients of lipstick seemed difficult for most experts on the subject–that’s because each drilling company, and each lipstick, has its own individual list of ingredients.

    When queried, several industry representatives had a question of their own: “Did he say which lipstick he was referring to?”

    Lynn Thorp works with Clean Water Action, which advocates more oversight when it comes to the chemicals in natural gas drilling–and cosmetics.

    “We have a big picture concern with many toxic chemicals. And there may well be times when things in our cosmetics are of concern. But there’s also a difference between those problems and what we see going on in the fracking process right now, and the handling of the wastewater,” said Thorp. “Boy, is it an apples and oranges thing.”

    But there is one large similarity when it comes to the chemicals used in both natural gas drilling and lipstick — federal regulation is limited. The Clean Drinking Water Act does not apply to the natural gas industry.

    “Who is responsible for substantiating the safety of cosmetics?” is a frequently asked question on the website for the Food and Drug Administration.

    The answer is clear as lip gloss: “The cosmetics industry is responsible for substantiating the safety of their products and ingredients.”

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.