Most of us don’t give enough thought to toxin exposure in our daily lives. Consumers are lead to believe that carcinogens and other toxins in personal care products are harmless because they’re present in such small quantities. The ugly truth is that we use multiple personal care products, exposing us to hundreds of chemicals throughout the day.
Personal care products are deemed safe by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel. Warnings on products read “safe as used” - and they are, but only if you’re as healthy as a newborn, and use only that product. The problem is, we use many personal care products, and the assumption of the safety panel is that we are already without risks. Products designed for babies can be as toxic as those manufactured for adults.
The Breast Cancer Fund, Women's Voices for the Earth, Health Care Without Harm, the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, Clean Water Action, and the Environmental Working Group conducted in depth surveys targeting individual use of personal care products between January and May 2004. The findings showed that the average consumer is exposed to approximately 126 unique chemicals from at least nine personal care products daily. Ingredients in personal care products that contain possible, or known toxins that affect reproductive health and development, impair fertility or impair the development of a child or fetus are used by 4.3 million women.
Hydroquinone, ethylene dioxide, 1, 4-dioxane, formaldehyde, nitrosamines, PAHs, and acrylamide are potential carcinogens found in personal care products, used by 94% of all women and 69% of men. The most commonly used ingredient is hydroquinone. Phthalates are not included in these estimates - seldom found as a listed ingredient in consumer products though it is frequently present to give cosmetics that “special feel”. Phthalates are also used to manufacture plastics. The latest phthalate news relates to the toxicity of vinyl shower curtains.
Environmental impurities, combined with self-imposed exposure to products that may or are known to cause cancer should not be disregarded. It’s true, that in many instances, the evidence for harm is only suggested – for me that’s enough. Anyone interested in health and well-being (and we all are) should give sincere thought to cleaning out the cupboard, and replacing those contents with products from nature.
Natural products are abundantly marketed, but it’s important to do your homework. Read the ingredients; don't assume. The “Green Products Alliance” is a cooperative consisting of “manufacturers and marketers who make and sell extraordinarily natural personal care products.” You can visit their site for a list of manufacturers who genuinely care about your health.
Exposure adds up – Survey Results
Hydroquinone: an evaluation of the human risks from its carcinogenic and mutagenic properties.
The carcinogenicity of acrylamide
Phthalate Diesters and Their Metabolites in Human Breast Milk, Blood or Serum, and Urine as Biomarkers of Exposure in Vulnerable Populations
Bile Duct Tumors
Do Plastics Trigger Lupus?
Breast is Best, but it Could Be Better: What is in Breast Milk That Should Not Be?
Acrylamide May Increase Cancer Risk