Sunday, February 26, 2006

Toxic Skin

"Chemicals have replaced bacteria and viruses as the main threat to health. The diseases we are beginning to see as the major causes of death in the latter part of (the 1900's) and into the 21st century are diseases of chemical origin."
--- Dr. Dick Irwin, Toxicologist, Texas A&M University

Thousands of chemicals are allowed for use in personal care products. Many are known to be hazardous while many others are untested. The main routes by which chemicals enter our bodies are through the skin (absorption), through the lungs (inhalation), and through the mouth (ingestion). This post concentrates on chemical exposure through the skin. The skin is a barrier to most substances but our bodies can be endangered by many toxic chemicals that are absorbed and circulated through the body.

According to Skin Deep, a 2004 study and ranking of 7500 cosmetic products published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), 100 percent of shampoos tested contained ingredients that have not been assessed for safety by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Ninety-three percent of shampoos contain possibly harmful impurities linked to cancer or other health problems.

Europeans are somewhat better protected than we are in the United States. In September 2004, a European Union ruling went into effect banning hundreds of carcinogens and reproductive toxins from all personal care products sold in Europe, while the FDA has banned only nine chemicals in its 67-year history of monitoring cosmetics. In response to the EU ruling, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is urging companies to sign its Compact for Safe Cosmetics pledge to stop using dangerous chemicals in all countries. As of February 2006, more than 260 companies have signed.

THE KNOWN PROBLEMS

Benzophenone
Bronopol
Diethanolamine (DEA)
Diazolidinyl urea
Dioxins
DMDM hydantion
FD&C colors (artificial coal tar colors)
Fragrance
Glycols (PEG, EGPE, EGME, EGEE, DEGBE, PGME, DPGME)
Imidazolidinyl urea
Lanolin
Lead
Monoethanolamine (MEA)
Nonylphenols
Parabens
Phenylenediamine
Phthalates
Polysorbate 60 and polysorbate 80
Propylene glycol
Quaternary ammonium compounds (quats)
Sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate
Talc
Triethanolamine (TEA)

THE EXISTING SOLUTIONS

Note: natural ingredients often pose fewer risks to health than manufactured chemicals, but the FDA has no clear, regulated definition of "natural", so ingredients may actually be synthetic or highly-processed.

Almond oil
Aloe vera
Apricot kernel oil
Beeswax
Borax
Candelilla wax
Castor oil
Clay
Cocoa butter
Coconut oil
Grapeseed oil
Iron oxides
Jojoba oil
Pycnogenol (from pine trees)
Rice bran oil
Shea butter
Sunflower oil
Sweet almond oil
Titanium dioxide
Vitamins A, C, E
Witch hazel

Sun blocks:
Titanium dioxide
Zinc oxide

Preservatives:
Grapefruit seed extract
Phenoxyethanol
Potassium sorbate
Vitamins A, C, E

Some companies that use natural fragrances include:
17th Century Suds
Aubrey Organics
Avalon Natural Products
Aveda
Burt's Bees
Dr. Bronner
Ecco Bella
Jason
Kiss My Face
Logona
Mill Creek Botanicals
Nature’s Gate
Terressentials
Tom's of Maine
Weleda

For more specific information on problems and solutions and for information on specific brands of personal care products, or to make your own, go to the sources below.

SOURCES

Guide to Less Toxic Products, Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia, 2004: www.lesstoxicguide.ca
Safe, Not Sorry, Hair: The Case for Nontoxic Shampoos, Conditioners and Colors by Maureen Ryan, The Green Guide Institute, 2005.
Moisturizers, Body Lotions and Hand Creams by Claire Gutierrez, The Green Guide Institute, 2004.
A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients by Ruth Winter (Three Rivers Press, 2005)
Drop-Dead Gorgeous: Protecting Yourself from the Hidden Dangers of Cosmetics by Kim Erikson (McGraw-Hill, 2002)
Family Herbal: A Guide to Living Life with Energy, Health, and Vitality by Rosemary Gladstar (Storey Publishing, 2001)
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: www.safecosmetics.org
Cancer Prevention Coalition: www.preventcancer.com
Environmental Working Group, Skin Deep: www.ewg.org/reports/skindeep
The Green Guide: www.thegreenguide.com
Organic Consumers Association: www.organicconsumers.org/bodycare
Poisoned Cosmetics, Not Too Pretty
: www.nottoopretty.org

1 Comments:

Blogger Carolyn said...

Thank you for the information, and especially for the links to sources. I found you on your wife's blog, and her's from Quaker Jane's site. Keep up the good work.

Saturday, September 09, 2006 7:56:00 PM  

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