Tag Archives: Formaldehyde

‘Safe’ in the US While Banned Elsewhere

Updated 6/28/2015 & 5/15/2016.


(Source: www.thesleuthjournal.com)
(Source: www.thesleuthjournal.com)
This post is for those of you who believe the regulatory agencies in the US tasked with protecting our health and the health of us and our planet are actually fulfilling their mandates.
The US declares as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) the use of chemicals that other countries, notably the European Union, have classified as presenting unacceptable risks of harm to the environment or to human health. Co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, Stacy Malkan, says, “The policy approach in the U.S. and Europe is dramatically different.” (Hemmingway, 2014)
The European Union bases its chemical management and environmental protection policy decisions on the Precautionary Principle.

The Precautionary Principle

A general definition: The precept that an action should not be taken if the consequences are uncertain and potentially dangerous.
As used in environmental matters: The theory that if the effects of a product or action are unknown, then the product should not be used or the action should not be taken. (Dictionary.com, 2015)
“The precautionary principle enables rapid response in the face of a possible danger to human, animal or plant health, or to protect the environment. In particular, where scientific data do not permit a complete evaluation of the risk, recourse to this principle may, for example, be used to stop distribution or order withdrawal from the market of products likely to be hazardous.” (Europa, 2011)


(Source: jeanninewalston.com)
(Source: jeanninewalston.com)



Use of this  principle “covers cases where scientific evidence is insufficient, inconclusive or uncertain and preliminary scientific evaluation indicates that there are reasonable grounds for concern that the potentially dangerous effects on the environment, human, animal or plant health may be inconsistent with the high level of protection chosen by the EU.” (European Commission, 2000)
The EU’s goal is to ensure a strict level of environmental protection through PREVENTATIVE decision-making. In other words, in the EU, when there is substantial, credible evidence that something poses a danger to humans or the environment, protective action must be taken even if there is continuing scientific uncertainty.
This is the EU’s Communication on Precautionary Principle in its entirety if you wish to read it for yourself.




Now compare the EU’s decision-making policy on risk of harm to the US’s  policy.


 Policy on Health & Environmental Safety: US vs EU 

(Source: james-mcwilliams.com)
(Source: james-mcwilliams.com)


The US government approaches food and chemical safety from exactly the opposite direction: In this country, a high level of proof that something is HARMFUL must be shown before any regulatory action will be taken.
This policy clearly puts the protection of companies over the safety of people, other animals, plants, the soil, water, and air.



(Source: nontoxicdovernh.wordpress.com)
(Source: nontoxicdovernh.wordpress.com)



The case of artificial food coloring and dyes provides an example of how it works in practice:

“Same Study, Different Conclusions

“In the case of Red Dye No. 40, Yellow Dye No. 5 and Yellow Dye No. 6, it means that after considering the same evidence — a 2007 double-blind study by U.K. researchers that found that eating artificially colored food appeared to increase children’s hyperactivity — European and U.S. authorities reached different conclusions. In the U.K., the study persuaded authorities to bar use of these dyes as food additives. The EU chose to require warning labels on products that contain them — greatly reducing their use, according to Lisa Lefferts, senior scientist with the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, D.C. In the U.S., the study prompted the CSPI to petition the Food and Drug Administration for a ban on a number of food colorings. But in its review of these dyes, presented in 2011, the FDA found the study inconclusive because it looked at effects of a mixture of additives rather than individual colorings — and so these colors remain in use.
“While FDA approval is required for food additives, the agency relies on studies performed by the companies seeking approval of chemicals they manufacture or want to use in making determinations about food additive safety, Natural Resources Defense Council senior scientist Maricel Maffini and NRDC senior attorney Tom Neltner note in their April 2014 report, Generally Recognized as Secret. “No other developed country that we know of has a similar system in which companies can decide the safety of chemicals put directly into food,” says Maffini. The standing law that covers these substances — the 1958 Food Additives Amendment to the 1938 Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act — “makes requiring testing [of chemicals] more cumbersome than under TSCA,” says Neltner.”
– Hemmingway, 2014


Did you notice the part about the FDA’s relying on studies done by the very company that manufactures the product to make their determination of the product’s safety? And this dangerous policy isn’t limited just to food dyes.





By the way, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 40, Blue 1, Caramel coloring, and others – all FDA-approved as GRAS – have also been linked to neurological problems, allergies, brain cancer, ADD, ADHD, and more. They’re banned in France, UK, Norway, Austria, Finland, and other countries but NOT in the USA. In the US, you’ll find them in most packaged products – for example, candies, cereals, sports drinks, fruit flavored drinks, baked goods, packaged cheeses, and boxed macaroni and cheese. (Seattle Organic Restaurants, 2015)


(Source: foodbabe.com)
(Source: foodbabe.com)










(Source: rmpjc.org)
(Source: rmpjc.org)


The US FDA classifies GMOs as “GRAS” – in spite of a long list of research findings showing the opposite. The US government is even fighting labeling so consumers could be able to choose to avoid GMOs.
30 countries have banned all or some GMOs in their food supply. See the Organic Consumers Organization’s Countries & Regions With GE Food/Crop Bans.





(Source: www.slideshare.net)
(Source: www.slideshare.net)
BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and  BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene),  derived from petroleum,  are used as preservatives in processed meats, cereals, candies,  chewing gums, and other food products in the US. They’re also used as frying oils in many fast-food restaurants.
Both BHA and BHT have been linked to liver and kidney damage, fetal abnormalities, mental and physical retardation, cancer, baldness, increased appetite, loss of energy, and insomnia.
BHA and BHT are banned in European countries and Japan but NOT in the US. (Seattle Organic Restaurants, 2015)






(Source: www.fatnews.com)
(Source: www.fatnews.com)
Proctor and Gamble created Olestra, a sucrose polyester, to be used for lowering the fat content in processed foods. Olestra (brand name Olean) is used as a frying oil and is found in 0 calorie/ 0 cholesterol/ 0 fat products such as fat-free fries and potato chips.
Olestra has been linked to GI problems, irritable bowel syndrome, weight gain, and cramps. It blocks the body’s ability to absorb vitamins and essential minerals.
The UK, Canada, and some other countries have banned olestra. The US FDA declares it GRAS as a food additive and replacement for unhealthy oils. (Seattle Organic Restaurants, 2015)





(Source: ahealthieryouisabetteryou.wordpress.com)
(Source: ahealthieryouisabetteryou.wordpress.com)
Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is derived from corn or soy and bonded with bromine for use as an emulsifier in fruit-flavored sodas and sports drinks (eg, Gatorade, Mountain Dew, Fanta, Powerade) to keep their flavor oils  in suspension and give them a uniform color.  BVO is also patented as a flame retardant.
It’s so poisonous that only two ounces of a 2% solution can poison a child.  Bromine absorbed by the body replaces iodine and causes iodine deficiency.  Brominated vegetable oil has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, thyroid problems, and infertility.
And, by the way, the vast majority of corn and soy crops grown in the US (the source of BVO) is genetically modified.


(Source: www.wholefoodsmarket.com)
(Source: www.wholefoodsmarket.com)
BVO is banned in 100 countries, including Japan and the European Union countries. The FDA has allowed its use as GRAS in the US. In May 2014, under pressure from consumer groups, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo announced they would work toward removing it from all their drinks. (USA Today, 2014) (Seattle Organic Restaurants, 2015)






(Source: www.medicaldaily.com)
(Source: www.medicaldaily.com)


Potassium bromate is an oxidizing agent used in commercial baking to bleach and improve the elasticity of dough. It speeds up the baking process, makes it cheaper, and results in baked goods that are softer, fluffier, and whiter.
Potassium bromate has been linked to kidney damage, neurological disorders, thyroid problems, GI discomfort, and cancer.
Bromated flour has been banned  in many countries, including the European Union, Brazil, Canada – and even China. In the US, it has remained legal since it was first patented for use in bread making in 1914. (Seattle Organic Restaurants, 2015) (Yoquinto, 2012)





(Source: 360yourlife.com)
(Source: 360yourlife.com)


Most cows in the US are treated with recombinant bovine growth hormone  to increase their milk production. These hormones impair the animals’ immune systems so many of them get painful udder infections. The cows are then given antibiotics to control the infections. If you’re consuming milk from cows injected with rBGH or rBST, you too are getting dosed with growth hormones and antibiotics.
The US FDA approved multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology giant Monsanto’s bovine growth hormones, rBGH and rBST, as GRAS.
Interesting tidbit: Margaret Miller, a scientist working on the development of rBGH at Monsanto, was later appointed as Deputy Director of the FDA. Soon after her appointment, the FDA gave approval to these bovine growth hormones.
rBGH and rBST growth hormones have been linked to breast and prostate  cancer, thyroid disease, diabetes, obesity, infertility, asthma, allergies, early onset of puberty, and breast growth in 5 year old girls and men in their 40s.
Bovine growth hormones are banned in many European countries, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, and France. The FDA allows their widespread use in the US. (Seattle Organic Restaurants, 2015)




(Source: www.infiniteunknown.net)
(Source: www.infiniteunknown.net)
Earlier this year, the FDA admitted that 70% of the chickens grown in the US contain arsenic, a toxic chemical that causes death in high dosages and cancer at lower doses. It’s added to chicken feed to make store-bought chicken meat look pink and fresh.
EU countries have banned the use of arsenic in chicken feed. (DeCuir, 2015) (Seattle Organic Restaurants, 2015)







(Source: www.thisland.illinois.edu)
(Source: www.thisland.illinois.edu)


Formaldehyde is a toxic flammable gas used in the production of fertilizers, bleaching agents, food preservatives, hair straightening products, and personal care products such as baby shampoos and soaps. Food companies also add formaldehyde to foods such as milk, noodles, and meats to extend their shelf life.
Formaldehyde is linked to human cell damage. Long term exposure can cause leukemia while short term exposure can cause watery or burning eyes, asthma, headaches, skin irritation, and nausea.
The FDA allows the use of formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing agents in cosmetics, personal care products,  poultry and food-fish feeds (as an antimicrobial to control salmonella). In the US, only Minnesota has banned in-state sales of children’s personal care products containing them. Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing agents are banned in Japan, and many other countries, including the European Union. (Grossman, 2014), (Seattle Organic Restaurants, 2015), (Shook Hardy & Bacon, 2014)






(Source: www.seattleorganicrestaurants.com)
(Source: www.seattleorganicrestaurants.com)
Neonicotinoids are a relatively new class of pesticides, chemically related to nicotine, that attack insects’ central nervous systems, causing paralysis and death. These neurotoxins have been linked to bee colony collapse. They enter plants’ tissues and can remain in the soil up to 500 days after spraying, causing other plants grown in the treated soil to produce toxic nectar and pollen.
Neonicotinoid pesticides can also cause neurological problems in humans. Children who are exposed to these neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors while in the womb have a higher risk of developing cancer, neurological problems, mental disorders, autism, ADD, and ADHD.
The European Union has put a two-year ban on neonicotinoid pesticides. The US  rejects banning this neurotoxin. (Beyond Pesticides, undated) (Seattle Organic Restaurants, 2015)






(Source: bloguvib.wordpress.com)
(Source: bloguvib.wordpress.com)


Azodicarbonamide (ADA) is commonly used as a bleaching agent in commercially baked white breads, cakes, and pastries and is the chemical that keeps bread soft and fresh-seeming many days after you bought it.  Azodicarbonamide also improves flour’s strength and elasticity – and is a chemical used in the production of foamed plastics.
It has been linked to asthma, allergies, other respiratory problems – and much worse.
This chemical has been banned by most European countries and Australia. Some countries, including Singapore, have even instituted severe penalties for using it: 15 years in jail and $450,000 fine.
Here’s a 2014 list of 500 commercially baked products that contain Azodicarbonamide – bagels, muffins, pizzas, buns, breads, pastries, croissants, bread crumbs, pitas, croutons, stuffing mixes… You get the idea. (Montuori, 2014) (Seattle Organic Restaurants, 2015)





(Source: www.naturalnews.com)
(Source: www.naturalnews.com)




There are many more. In fact, the vast majority of packaged foods available in the US contain chemicals that are banned in other countries. The FDA allows over 3,000 food additives in US food production, including foods and products intended for infants and young children. Many of these additives are banned in other countries because of their health risks. (Mercola, 2015)




(Source: dailysuperfoodlove.com)
(Source: dailysuperfoodlove.com)






I want to close with one more example: A comparison of the French fries sold by McDonald’s in the US and in the UK.



While commercial French fries aren’t exactly known as healthy foods, McDonald’s fries sold in the US are much unhealthier than the version they sell in the UK.


(Source: www.collective-evolution.com)
(Source: www.collective-evolution.com)


For one thing, McDonald’s fries sold in the UK list four ingredients while their US version list seven, mostly chemical additives. But look at the ingredients lists for both countries carefully and you’ll see they’re a bit misleading. At the bottom of the US list, we learn that the vegetable oils contain other ingredients – eg, TBHQ and dimethylpolysiloxane. At the bottom of the UK list, we’re told non-hydrogenated vegetable oil is used to prepare the fries in the restaurants. Does this mean hydrogenated versions are used when the potatoes are fried the first time at McDonald’s factories, before they’re frozen and distributed to the various franchises?
In the US, McDonald’s fries are cooked in hydrogenated canola and/or soybean oil, two of the unhealthiest oil choices and both most likely made from genetically engineered plants. Their fries here also contain TBHQ, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Dimethylpolysiloxane , and “natural beef flavor” (made with wheat and milk derivatives). (Mercola, 2015)


In the US, McDonald’s cooks its fries in canola and soybean oils, plus hydrogenated soybean oil. Canola oil isn’t totally terrible for you since it’s low in saturated fats and fairly high in unsaturated fats, including Omega-3 fatty acids – but it’s most likely to be made from GMO plants. 90% of the world’s canola crop is genetically modified.
Hydrogenating soybean oil turns its unsaturated fat into saturated fat, making it easier to cook with and turning it into a preservative. This soybean fat has now become a trans fat and trans fats have been strongly linked to heart disease. And there’s also the fact that about 84% of the soy beans grown in the US are GMO.
McDonald’s French fries sold in the UK are fried in non-hydrogenated sunflower or rapeseed oil at the restaurants. Both these oils are high in Omega-6 fatty acids that oxidize to cyclic aldehydes. The rapeseed is also GMO.
And remember that McDonald’s fries its potatoes twice: Once during preparation at the factory before they’re frozen and shipped out to their franchise restaurants and again before they’re served.
Overall, while definitely not so good for you, the oils used in making the UK version are healthier than the US version. (Goyanes, 2015) (Gunnars, 2015) (Mercola, 2015)




Tertiary butylhydroquinone) is a form of butane used as an FDA approved as GRAS chemical preservative in foodstuffs to delay the onset of rancidness and extend the foodstuff’s storage life. You’ll find it in many products: from crackers, potato chips, pet foods, cosmetics, baby skincare products, varnish, lacquers, resins, to explosive compounds.
High doses of TBHQ can cause nausea, delirium, collapse, tinnitus, and vomiting. It’s also linked to hyperactivity in children as well as asthma, rhinitis, dermatitis, restlessness, and aggravation of  ADHD symptoms.
Long term high doses in lab animals are linked to the development of cancerous precursors in the stomach and DNA damage. It’s also linked to estrogen disruption in women. (Botes, 2011)



Sodium acid pyrophosphate (also referred to as disodium dihydrogen pyrophosphate) is mined from phosphate rock and then processed with sodium and other molecules into a synthetic chemical used as a food additive classified as GRAS by the FDA.
It’s used as leavening agent to fluff up foods, in non-dairy creamers to reduce acidity, in processed lunch meats to keep them moist, in breads to retard molds, in cheeses to help them retain their shape, in potato products to retard blackening, in tuna and other seafood to keep it from discoloring or drying out.
Phosphates in general have been linked to renal failure and cardiovascular disease. Sodium phosphate in laxatives has been linked to severe dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, organ damage, bone and tooth decay. (Marshall, 2014)



Dimethylpolysiloxane is a silicone-based organic polymer. It’s FDA approved as GRAS in foods. It’s also used in silicone caulks, adhesives, aquarium sealants, mold release agents, polishes, cosmetics, hair conditioners, as a filler in breast implants, and Silly Putty.
The FDA also permits dimethylpolysiloxane to be preserved by a variety of chemicals that don’t have to be listed on the label – including formaldehyde, a toxic chemical linked to allergies, brain damage, cancer, and autoimmune disorders. (Food Babe, 2013)
No major studies have been conducted on the safety of dimethylpolysiloxane yet the FDA approves it as GRAS in our foods – in anything except milk.
McDonald’s uses it as an anti-foaming agent and to reduce oil spattering in its US franchises. While dimethylpolysiloxane isn’t banned in the UK, McDonald’s doesn’t use it in its French fries there.



The so called “natural beef flavor” McDonald’s uses in its French fries in the US for some reason is made with hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk so they have to carry a wheat and milk allergen warning. Hydrolysis is an industrial process of of digesting something with chemical agents. And the traces of highly processed  beef byproducts along with the milk definitely keep them from being vegetarian or vegan.
McDonald’s fries in the UK contain no “natural beef flavor” so apparently it’s not necessary to include it. (Mercola, 2015)



Citric acid is naturally found in fruits and vegetables. McDonald’s uses it in the US to preserve the freshness of their frying oils – no doubt in a highly processed form. Somehow it’s not a necessary ingredient in the UK.


Dextrose, also called glucose, is a simple form of sugar derived from starch. It can be refined from many kinds of starch, including wheat, rice, potato, cassava, and arrowroot. The cheapest and most common source is corn. I’ll remind you that the vast majority of corn grown in the US (about 88% is GMO). Genetically modified corn is also grown in the EU.
Dextrose is used in McDonald’s US and UK franchises to give their fries that uniform golden brown color.



While natural, unprocessed salt contains trace minerals we need, refined table salt (the kind used by McDonald’s and pretty much all other restaurants, fast food or otherwise) is quite unhealthy. But it’s cheap and makes us thirsty for those enormous Cokes.
Refined table salt is quite different from natural, unprocessed salts. It no longer has the ability to combine with our body fluids, so undermines necessary, basic chemical and metabolic processes. Water retention, kidney and blood pressure problems, gall stones, and many other serious health problems can result from refined salt consumption.
Unrefined salts contain trace minerals that support the proper functioning of all our bodily systems, including the immune system, glandular system and nervous system. These trace minerals have been processed out of refined table salt.
For more on processed vs unprocessed salt, see The Healing Properties of Unrefined Salts.
Processed salt is use on McDonald’s fries in both the US and the UK.
And we’re not even talking about what’s in the ketchup!




(Source: www.uleduneering.com)
(Source: www.uleduneering.com)
Doesn’t this comparison of the ingredients in McDonald’s French fries in the US and the UK make you wonder how concerned our governmental agencies actually are about our health?
As Robert Mercola says,
“Still if McDonald’s can make a tasty French fry without preservatives, antifoaming agents, color stabilizers, TBHQ, and added flavorings for its British restaurants, why do they refuse to make them without this junk for Americans? (Mercola, 2015)



(Source: www.collective-evolution.com)
(Source: www.collective-evolution.com)
I highly recommend watching this short Michael Pollan video: Watch This Video and You’ll Never Eat McDonald’s French Fries Again … in the US or anywhere else in the world.
Now ponder this:
(Source: www.foodinsight.org)
(Source: www.foodinsight.org)

Beyond Pesticides. (undated. Chemicals Implicated. See: http://www.beyondpesticides.org/pollinators/chemicals.php

Botes, S. (2011). TBHQ – Why this preservative should be avoided. See: http://www.naturalnews.com/031318_TBHQ_food_preservatives.html

Decuir, L. (2015). Finally! The FDA Admits That Nearly Over 70% of U.S. Chickens Contain Cancer-Causing Arsenic. See: http://www.msn.com/en-ca/foodanddrink/foodnews/finally-the-fda-admits-that-nearly-over-70percent-of-us-chickens-contain-cancer-causing-arsenic/ar-AA8cWca

Dictionary.com. (2015). Precautionary principle. See: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/precautionary+principle

European Commission. (2000). EU’s Communication on Precautionary Principle. See: http://www.gdrc.org/u-gov/precaution-4.html

Europa: Summaries of EU Legislation. (2011). The precautionary principle. See: http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/consumers/consumer_safety/l32042_en.htm

Food Babe. (2013). You Won’t Believe Where Silly Putty Is Hiding In Your Food. See: http://foodbabe.com/2013/10/22/sillyputty/

Goyanes, C. (2015). What’s REALLY Inside Those McDonald’s French Fries? See: http://www.livestrong.com/article/1002598-whats-really-inside-those-mcdonalds-french-fries/

Grossman, E. (2014). BANNED IN EUROPE, SAFE IN THE U.S.: Who determines whether chemicals are safe — and why do different governments come up with such different answers? See: http://ensia.com/features/banned-in-europe-safe-in-the-u-s/

Gunnars, K. (2015). Canola Oil: Good or Bad? See: http://authoritynutrition.com/canola-oil-good-or-bad/

Hardin, J.R. (2014). The Healing Properties of Unrefined Salts. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2014/08/02/healing-properties-unrefined-salts/

Hemmingway, S. (2014). Banned in Europe, Safe in the U.S. See: http://www.healthfreedoms.org/banned-in-europe-safe-in-the-u-s/

Marshall, L. (2014).  Is disodium dihydrogen pyrophosphate (sodium acid pyrophosphate) natural? See: http://newhope360.com/ingredients-general/is-disodium-dihydrogen-pyrophosphate-natural

Mercola, R. (2015). The Big Food Discrepancy: Why Are American Foods Routinely More Toxic Than European Versions? See: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/02/11/mcdonalds-fries-ingredients.aspx

Montuori, N. (2014). Yoga Mat Chemical “Azodicarbonamide” Found in Nearly 500 Foods. See: http://www.ordinaryvegan.net/adalist/

Organic Consumers Organization. (undated).  Countries & Regions With GE Food/Crop Bans. See: https://www.organicconsumers.org/old_articles/gefood/countrieswithbans.php

Polan, M. (2014). Video: Watch This Video and You’ll Never Eat McDonald’s French Fries Again. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbZBJT358_Y

Seattle Organic Restaurants. (2015).Top 10 foods, additives and preservatives that are banned in many countries except US. See: http://www.seattleorganicrestaurants.com/vegan-whole-food/foods-banned-in-other-countries-but-we-eat-in-us.php

Shook Hardy & Bacon. (2014). EFSA issues opinion on formaldehyde in animal feed. See: http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=c7f83204-2b3d-43cd-ba74-31f81433a10d

USA Today. (2014). Coke, Pepsi dropping controversial ‘BVO’ from all drinks. See: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/05/05/coke-pepsi-dropping-bvo-from-all-drinks/8736657/

Yoquinto, L. (2012). The Truth About Potassium Bromate. See: http://www.livescience.com/36206-truth-potassium-bromate-food-additive.html



© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.


DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Hormone Disrupters in Our Cosmetics & Personal Hygiene Products






Parabens are frequently used as preservatives to prevent microbial growth and increase the shelf life of an estimated 13,200 cosmetic and skin care products. (Scheve, 2014)
Most of us apply parabens to our skins and perhaps even consume them daily. They’re ingredients in:  (Scheve, 2014) (personal observation)


  • Cosmetics – such as moisturizers, lipsticks, lip balms, foundations, concealers, eye make ups, make up removers, self-tanners, hair dyes
  • Hygiene products – such as shampoos, conditioners, de-frizzers, volumizers, hair dyes, soaps, toothpastes, topical ointments, deodorants and anti-perspirants, shaving gels, sunscreens, anti-wrinkle creams, bandages and eye drops, personal lubricants, estrogen creams
  • Food products – such as salad dressing, mayonnaise, mustard, processed vegetables, frozen dairy products, soft drinks, baked goods and jellies
  • Pharmaceuticals – such as ointments and other products
  • Household and industrial products – such as textiles and glues



woman-apply-deodorant_v200apply Body lotion

















The 8 glands in our endocrine systems produce and release hormones that regulate metabolism, growth, development, tissue function, sleep, reproduction, sexual function and mood. Almost every cell in the body is affected by the endocrine system. A report issued in March 2013 jointly by the United Nations and the World Health Organization states that “Endocrine Disrupters (EDC’s) are a global threat to fertility and the environment.”
And a recent report from the Environmental Working Group says:

There is no end to the tricks that endocrine disruptors can play on our bodies–increasing production of certain hormones, decreasing production of others, imitating hormones, turning one hormone into another, interfering with hormone signaling, telling cells to die prematurely, competing with essential nutrients, binding to essential hormones, and accumulating in organs that produce hormones.

(Anderson, 2014)


8 Glands in the Endocrine System
8 Glands in the Endocrine System





These are various names of the parabens we’re absorbing or ingesting from products – if they’re ingredients in your products, you’ll usually find them listed toward the bottom of the list:  (Lal, 2012)
  • Benzyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid
  • Butylparaben
  • Butyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid
  • Ethylparaben
  • Ethyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid
  • Isobutylparaben
  • Isopropylparaben
  • Methylparaben
  • Methyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid
  • Parahydroxybenzoate
  • Parahydroxybenzoic acid
  • Propylparaben
  • Propyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid


Japanese Honeysuckle Extract
Japanese Honeysuckle
Japanese Honeysuckle
Several authors have noted that a growing number of beauty product companies are trying to make their products safer and have substituted Japanese honeysuckle extract for chemical parabens. This has led to some controversy since the preservative made from Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera Japonica)  is actually a form of paraben and behaves in a very similar way to synthetic parabens. Honeysuckle extract is marketed as Plantservative. (Marta, 2012)
There’s hope: Some cosmetics companies are replacing parabens with grapefruit seed extract and Vitamin E; and essential oils like cinnamon, eucalyptus, lavender, lemon and tea tree are being distilled and turned into natural preservatives. (Lal, 2012)




Figure 6 endocrines


The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that parabens have hormone-disrupting qualities that mimic estrogen, interfering with the body’s endocrine system. The EPA has linked methylparabens in particular to metabolic, developmental, hormonal and neurological disorders, as well as to various cancers – especially breast cancer. (Mercola, 2012) (Johnson, 2011) For more information on a parabens-breast cancer link, see the Environmental Working Group’s  EWG’s Skin Deep Database, and the articles by Mercola and Johnson.




There is evidence that the estrogen-mimicry effect of parabens  decreases testosterone levels, sperm counts and daily production of sperm in rats. Testosterone was found to decrease in a dose-dependent manner related to paraben concentration. It is thought that parabens are also responsible for the increasingly early onset of puberty in children, damage to the DNA in sperm, and damage to mitochondrial function, causing male infertility. (Osman, 2012)








From Safe Cosmetics (Breast Cancer Action, 2014):

Because testing is voluntary and controlled by the cosmetic manufacturers, many ingredients in cosmetic products are not tested for safety. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep states that 89 percent of ingredients used in personal care products have not been evaluated for safety by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) panel, the FDA, or any other publicly accountable institution (FDA 2000, CIR 2002). The absence of governmental oversight for this $35 billion industry means that companies routinely market products with ingredients that are poorly studied, not studied at all, or worse, known to pose potentially serious health risks. It’s time to protect consumers….

Many cosmetic companies argue that the level of a harmful chemical in any one product is not enough to harm you…. However, science is finding the timing of exposure is critical, and that even a very small dose of some chemicals can have serious consequences in children and young women who are still developing.

Moreover, we are rarely exposed to a chemical just one time. We may use the same product every day, several days a week, for months or years. In addition, we use dozens of personal care products daily, not just one. So while exposure from one product on one day may be small, we in fact use numerous products a day for extended periods of time. As a result, scientists are finding accumulations of chemicals such as parabens and phthalates in our bodies.

The unregulated cosmetics industry has publicly assessed only 11% of the 10,500 ingredients in personal care products. (The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, 2011)
See the  Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website for ways to take action.












The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics partners with the Environmental Working Group to produce a cosmetic safety database. You can visit EWG’s Skin Deep Database to check the ingredients in the products you use or to find safer products for you and your family.
This searchable database checks the ingredients in more than 74,000 shampoos, makeups, deodorants, sunscreens and other personal care products with 50 toxicity and regulatory databases.
There’s even an iPhone and Android mobile app for their database so you can check out products while you’re shopping. The app has some nice features:
  • It lets you scan products’ barcodes to see EWG’s score for them.
  • With its History feature, you can find the scores of products you’ve previously scanned.
  • You can save your Favorites so you can easily check their scores.










Breast Cancer Action coined the term pinkwasher in 2003 to refer to cosmetic and body care companies that promote pink ribbon products while also selling products that contribute to the disease.  BCA first challenged Avon and then went on to focus on other companies that raise money in the name of breast cancer but manufacture body care products containing known carcinogens or reproductive toxins – such as parabens and phthlates. (Breast Cancer Action, 2014) (Think Before You Pink)











Amazon.com – product information:

Water, Mineral Oil, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Panthenol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Dimethicone, Carbomer, Ceteareth-20, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Citrate, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Citric Acid, Ethylparaben.

Smooth on hands and body every day.




Amazon.com – product information:

Water, Glycerin, Capric/Caprylic Stearic Triglyceride, Dimethicone, Octyldodecanol, Petrolatum, Cetearyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Laurate, Hydrogenated Lanolin, Silica, BHT, PEG/PPG 20/6 Dimethicone, Stearyl Alcohol, Acrylates/C12 22 Alkyl Methacrylate Copolymer, Alkyl Methacrylate Copolymer, Propylene Glycol, Triethanolamine, DMDM Hydantoin, Methylparaben

Apply to skin as needed.





Amazon.com – product information:

CoverGirl & Olay combine a foundation and serum to cover fine lines and wrinkles and help improve skintone over time.

Cyclopentasiloxane, Water/Eau, Glycerin, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Sodium Chloride, Acetyl Glucosamine, Diethylhexyl Carbonate, Niacinamide, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Talc, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, Panthenol, Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4, Tocopheryl Acetate, Allantoin, Methicone, Aluminum Hydroxide, Benzyl Alcohol, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, PEG-10 Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance/Parfum, PEG-100 Stearate, May Contain/Peut Contenir: Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides

Dot foundation on forehead, cheeks and chin. Blend using fingertips or a makeup sponge. Use with any CoverGirl Pressed Powder to help your look last.




Amazon.com – product information:

Safety Information
Haircolor products can cause an allergic reaction which, in certain rare cases, can be severe. Therefore, before you use this product it is necessary to follow these precautions: Do not use if you have already had a reaction to a haircolor product; you have a sensitive, itchy or damaged scalp. If you have a tattoo, the risks of allergic reaction may be increased. Perform a skin allergy test 48 hours before each use of this product (see insert). Remember to buy your product 2 days ahead of time. Avoid contact with eyes and skin. If product gets into eyes, rinse immediately. Wear gloves provided in kit. Thoroughly rinse hair after application. Do not use over compound henna or progressive color. This product contains ingredients which may cause skin irritation on certain individuals and a preliminary test according to accompanying directions should first be made. This product must not be used for dyeing the eyelashes or eyebrows; to do so may cause blindness.

COLOR GEL:  Aqua/Water, Trideceth-2 Carboxamide MEA, Propylene Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, PEG-2 Oleamine, Polyglyceryl-4 Oleyl Ether, Oleyl Alcohol, Alcohol Denat., Ammonium Hydroxide, Polyglyceryl-2 Oleyl Ether, Oleic Acid, Sodium Diethylaminopropyl Cocoaspartamide, Pentasodium Pentetate, Ammonium Acetate, Parfum/Fragrance, Sodium Metabisulfite, P-Aminophenol, 2-Methyl-5-Hydroxyethylaminophenol, Erythorbic Acid, Phenyl Methyl Pyrazolone, M-Aminophenol, Resorcinol, P-Phenylenediamine, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, 6-Hydroxyindole, Eugenol, Linalool, Citronellol. Color Optimizing Creme: Aqua/Water, Hydrogen Peroxide, Cetearyl Alcohol, Trideceth-2 Carboxamide MEA, Ceteareth-30, Glycerin, Pentasodium Pentetate, Sodium Stannate, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate. Care Supreme Conditioner: Aqua/Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Behentrimonium Chloride, Candelilla Cera/Candelilla Wax, Amodimethicone, Cetyl Esters, Isopropyl Alcohol, Parfum/Fragrance, Methylparaben, Trideceth-12, Hexyl Cinnamal, Linalool, Benzyl Alcohol, Chlorhexidine Dihydrochloride, Cetrimonium Chloride, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Limonene, Amyl Cinnamal, PPG-5-Ceteth-20, Geraniol, Benzyl Benzoate, Oleth-10, Citronellol, Disodium Cocoamphodipropionate, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Lecithin, Cinnamyl Alcohol, Phosphoric Acid, Tocopherol, Ethylhexyl Salicylate, Phenoxyethanol, Methyl-2-Octynoate, Ethylparaben.


Safety Warning Warning: keep out of reach of children. For external use only. Avoid contact with eyes. Discontinue use if irritation develops. This product does not contain a sunscreen and does not protect against sunburn. Repeated exposure of unprotected skin while tanning may increase the risk of skin aging, skin cancer and other harmful effects to the skin, even if you do not burn. Ingredients Water, glycerin, alcohol denat., mineral oil, C13-16 isoparaffin, isopropyl palmitate, cetearyl alcohol, dihydroxyacetone, glyceryl stearate SE, glyceryl glucoside, vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil, ginkgo biloba leaf extract, dimethicone, sodium acrylate/acryloyldimethyltaurate/ dimethylacrylamide crosspolymer, isohexadecane, sodium cetearyl sulfate, xanthan gum, sodium metabisulfite, polysorate 60, sorbitan isotearate, fragrance, citric acid, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben. Directions Apply liberally, evenly smoothing onto your skin. Avoid contact with clothes until after the lotion is fully absorbed. Wash your hands after application. To optimize results, exfoliate before first use.


Amazon.com – product information:

Safety Warning
Warning: keep out of reach of children. For external use only. Avoid contact with eyes. Discontinue use if irritation develops. This product does not contain a sunscreen and does not protect against sunburn. Repeated exposure of unprotected skin while tanning may increase the risk of skin aging, skin cancer and other harmful effects to the skin, even if you do not burn.

Water, glycerin, alcohol denat., mineral oil, C13-16 isoparaffin, isopropyl palmitate, cetearyl alcohol, dihydroxyacetone, glyceryl stearate SE, glyceryl glucoside, vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil, ginkgo biloba leaf extract, dimethicone, sodium acrylate/acryloyldimethyltaurate/ dimethylacrylamide crosspolymer, isohexadecane, sodium cetearyl sulfate, xanthan gum, sodium metabisulfite, polysorate 60, sorbitan isotearate, fragrance, citric acid, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben.

Apply liberally, evenly smoothing onto your skin. Avoid contact with clothes until after the lotion is fully absorbed. Wash your hands after application. To optimize results, exfoliate before first use.







Lotions, shampoos and other skin products made for babies are less likely to contain carcinogens like parabens. Also, Australia and New Zealand’s EPA-equivalents are very strict so products made in those countries are less likely to contain parabens or other chemicals harmful to your health.




The Entire Line of Jurlique Products


From Amazon.com – product information:

Aqua (Water); Carthamus tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil; Glycerin; Glyceryl Stearate Citrate; Jojoba Esters; Calendula officinalis Flower Extract; Hamamelis virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract; Prunella vulgaris (Self Heal) Flower Extract; Spilanthes acmella Flower Extract; Lithospermum erythrorhizon (Groomwell) Root Extract; Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride; Zanthoxylum alatum (Sichuan Peppercorn) Extract; Aloe barbadensis Leaf Extract; Fragrance (Parfum)*; Tocopherol (Vitamin E); Xanthan Gum; Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate; Lactic Acid; Oleyl Alcohol; Alcohol; Geraniol*; Linalool*; Limonene*. * From Natural Essential Oil (Chamomile – Chamomilla recutita (Matricaria); Lavender – Lavandula angustifolia).


Baby Moisturizer by EcoSTORE USA




Base Ingredients

Aqua · Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride · Simmondsia Chinensis Oil · Cetearyl Olivate · Sorbitan Olivate · Butyrospermum Parkii · Cetearyl Alcohol · Olea Europaea Oil · Caprylyl Glycol · Phenoxyethanol · Panthenol · Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate · Xanthan Gum · Parfum · Citric Acid

Contains No Nasty Ingredients

Synthetic dyes · Methylparaben Propylparaben Butylparaben · Mineral Oil · Synthetic Perfumes · Dimethicone

Fragrance Ingredients

Lavender & Geranium

Lavandula Angustifolia · Eucalyptus Globulus · Pelargonium Graveolens




MD Moms – Products Developed by Pediatrician Moms


MD-Moms.com – product information

baby silk daily UV shield
SPF 30 moisturizing lotion

Every day is SUNday when it comes to UV rays! A daily dose of our lightweight, fragrance free, paraben free SPF 30 formula keeps skin nourished and soothed while providing broad spectrum protection from UV rays and environmental damage. Water resistant (80 min) and non-irritating to the eyes. Broad spectrum pure physical/mineral non-chemical sunscreen active ingredients.

2012 Cribsie Awards - Finalist
  • Contains NO fragrance, parabens, phthalates, lanolin, mineral oil, petroleum or waxes
  • Pure physical non-chemical sunscreen actives Titanium Dioxide & Zinc Oxide, optimal for sensitive and young skin, even under 6 months of age
  • Broad spectrum protection: protects against UVA and UVB rays
  • Fragrance-free for ultra sensitive skin
  • Protects from environmental damage while nourishing, with antioxidant vitamins E & B5, grapeseed oil and avocado oil
  • Clinically tested, certified hypoallergenic and dermatologist approved
  • Gentle, water-resistant (80 minutes) and non-irritating to the eyes
  • TSA-approved for carry-on luggage
  • Made in the USA.  No animal testing.




 doTERRA ONGuard Natural Whitening Toothpaste
(I like all the doTerra’s products I’ve tried)





doTERRA.com – product information:


Glycerin, Water, Hydrated Silica, Hydroxyapatite, Xylitol, Calcium Carbonate, Cellulose
Gum, Mentha piperita (Peppermint) Essential Oil, Citrus sinensis (Wild Orange) Essential
Oil, Eugenia caryophyllata (Clovebud) Essential Oil, Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Cinnamon
Bark) Essential Oil, Eucalyptus radiata (Eucalyptus) Essential Oil, Rosemarinus officinalis
(Rosemary) Essential Oil), Stevia rebaudiana (Stevia ) Extract, Gaultheria procumbens
(Wintergreen) Essential Oil, Commiphora myrrha (Myrrh) Essential Oil, Sodium Lauroyl
Sarcosinate, Carrageenan, Titanium Dioxide




Tom’s of Maine


TomsofMaine.com – product information:

What’s Not in Our Products





I also sometimes use Burt’s Bees paraben-free products.
For more information visit www.thinkbeforeyoupink.org and Johnson.








nail polish blog



Reprinted from the Safe Cosmetics Action Network (Safe Cosmetics Action Network, 2011)

Q. What are some of the most harmful ingredients in products? 

A. Mercury (often listed as thimerosal on ingredient labels), found in some eye drops, ointment and deodorants; lead acetate, found in some hair dyes and cleanser; formaldehyde and toluene, found in nail products; petrochemicals, found in some hair relaxers, shampoos, mascara, perfume, foundation, lipstick and lip balm; coal tar, found in dandruff shampoos, anti-itch creams and hair dyes; placenta, found in some hair relaxers, moisturizers and toners; and phthalates, found in some nail polish, fragrances and hair spray. 

All of these ingredients can be found in our brochure, Unmasked: 10 Ugly Truths Behind the Myth of Cosmetic Safety.

Q. So I should buy products labeled “all-natural”? 

A. Looking for the words “natural” or “safe” won’t guarantee that the product you buy really is safe. That’s why we’re asking all manufacturers to sign the Compact for Safe Cosmetics and pledge not to use chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and other health harms and replace them with safer alternatives. 

Q: I don’t see Arbonne, Avon, Mary Kay, Melaleuca or other similar companies listed on your website, even though they claim to be “safe,” “natural” or donate money to breast cancer research. What’s the deal? 

A: Arbonne, Avon, Mary Kay and Melaleuca are aware of the Compact for Safe Cosmetics but have refused to sign it. If they are truly supporting women’s health and making “safe” products, it shouldn’t be too hard for them to sign the Compact. Hundreds of companies have signed the Compact, a commitment to manufacture personal care products free of known and suspected toxic chemicals. 

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics does not endorse or hand-pick “safe” companies to refer customers to. The growing list of safer companies on our Web site is comprised solely of companies that have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. If you don’t see a company on the list, we encourage you to send a letter letting them know about the Compact and urging them to sign it. 

For a sample letter to get you started, please check out the Materialssection of the website. 

Q: How do I know if a particular product is safe? 

A: To find safety information on specific products, check out EWG’s Skin Deep, the online database of nearly 25,000 personal care products. You can search the database for specific brands or ingredients, or for product types, like nail polish, to see how brands within that product class compare. Skin Deep will also tell you if a company has signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. We recommend supporting Compact signers over non-signers when possible because Compact-signing companies have made a meaningful commitment to create safer products. 

Q. What are phthalates? Where are they found? 

A. Phthalates (pronounced THA-lates) are plasticizing chemicals that are probable human reproductive or developmental toxins and endocrine disruptors. Phthalates cause reproductive birth defects in laboratory animals, particularly males. 

Two phthalates often used in cosmetics (dibutyl and diethylhexyl) have been banned in the European Union. Unfortunately, phthalates are still found in some nail polishes and hair sprays, and are commonly hidden on ingredient labels under the term “fragrance.” We recommend that consumers steer clear of products with fragrance, especially pregnant women, babies and pubescent young adults. 

For more information, please read our reports, “A Little Prettier” (2008) and “Not Too Pretty” (2002). 

Q. I’ve been reading a lot about parabens and companies going “paraben-free.” What does that mean? 

A. Parabens are a group of compounds widely used as anti-microbial preservatives in food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics products, including underarm deodorants. Parabens are absorbed through intact skin and through the gastrointestinal tract and blood. U.K. researchers found measurable concentrations of six different parabens in 20 human breast tumors. The study highlights the need for more research on the potential link between products containing parabens and increased breast cancer risk. 

Many companies, including Compact signers, have begun phasing out parabens from their lines by marking their products as “paraben-free.” Parabens are commonly listed on product ingredient labels as methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben and butylparaben.

Q. What about nail polish? 

A. So many people have asked us about nail polish that we created a separate pagefor information about it. According to EWG’s Skin Deep database of cosmetic product safety, nail polish is among the highest-concern product categories in terms of serious health effects. This has to do in large part to the chemicals formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate(DBP), all three of which make it into the top ingredients of concern in personal care products, and all three of which could be found in many brands of nail polish until very recently. 

Many smaller nail polish manufacturers removed these chemicals from their products long ago. And while European laws forced many international companies to stop using DBP in 2005, some holdouts were still using the chemical in their U.S. lines. In 2006, Del Laboratories, Inc., which makes the Sally Hansen brand, told the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics that it would remove all DBP, toluene and formaldehyde from their U.S. products. At that time, leading salon brand (and target of Campaign actions and ads) OPI agreed to remove DBP, but refused to eliminate formaldehyde and toluene from all of their nail polishes and treatments. 

In March 2007, OPI reported that it was reformulating all of its products to be toluene-free.

The U.S. National Toxicology Program says formaldehyde is “reasonably anticipated” to be a human carcinogen. Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) restricts toluene in drinking water because it can cause nervous system disorders and damage the liver and kidneys. DBP is prohibited for use in cosmetics in the European Union because it is a possible human reproductive or developmental toxin. The data from several peer-reviewed scientific studies indicated that DBP is a probable endocrine disruptor, which means that it disrupts the natural balance of hormones in the body.

Q. Who’s making safe nail polish? 

A. Several companies who have signed the Compact make nail polishes, treatments and removers without harmful chemicals, including Anise Nail Care, Honeybee Gardens and NAIL-AID Treatments. So you don’t have to give up your mani-pedi visits, just BYOP (Bring Your Own Polish) the next time you go! And it won’t hurt to let your salon know about the health effects associated with polishes and treatments and how they can swap toxic products with safer alternatives to protect their own health, too. For more information about health risks to salon workers, read Glossed Over: Health Hazards Associated with Toxic Exposure in Nail Salons from Women’s Voices for the Earth. 

Q: Where can I find information on sunscreens? 

A: Environmental Working Group’s 2011 investigationof more than 600 sunscreen products found that 4 out of 5 contain chemicals that may pose health hazards or don’t adequately protect skin from the sun’s damaging rays. Some sunscreen makers are using nanotechnology in their products, and not always telling consumers about these risky nano-sized ingredients. Friends of the Earth published a report in 2007 focusing on nanotechnology and sunscreen, which is available on their website.

Q: Can I really get exposed to as much formaldehyde eating Brussels sprouts or apples as I can from a Brazilian Blowout treatment?

A:  In a word, no. This is a myth perpetuated by defenders of Brazilian Blowout and other keratin hair-straightening products. Apples and some other fruits and vegetables do contain naturally occurring formaldehyde, typically around 10 mg/kg (or parts per million), or 0.001 percent. But the levels of formaldehyde found in Brazilian Blowout by Oregon OSHA in 2010 were close to 10 percent, 10,000 times higher than the levels of formaldehyde found in apples.













paraben free





Check the products you use to see if they have earned any of these labels.














For the sake of simplicity, I decided to focus on parabens in this post but there are many other problematic chemicals included in the products we use on and put into our bodies.
The ingredients below are often found in skin moisturizers and other personal care products:
Reprinted from Do Your Skincare Products Contain These Chemicals? (Belanger, 2008)

Mineral Oil, Paraffin, and Petrolatum — Petroleum products that coat the skin like plastic, clogging pores and creating a build-up of toxins, which in turn accumulate and can lead to dermatologic issues. Slows cellular development, which can cause you to show earlier signs of aging. Suspected cause of cancer. Disruptive of hormonal activity. By the way, when there’s an oil spill in the ocean, don’t they rush to clean it up — fast? Why put that stuff on your skin?

Parabens — Widely used as preservatives in the cosmetic industry (including moisturizers). An estimated 13,200 cosmetic and skin care products contain parabens. Studies implicate their connection with cancer. They have hormone-disrupting qualities — mimicking estrogen — and interfere with the body’s endocrine system.

Phenol carbolic acid– Found in many lotions and skin creams. Can cause circulatory collapse, paralysis, convulsions, coma and even death from respiratory failure.

Propylene glycol — Used as a moisturizer in cosmetics and as a carrier in fragrance oils. Shown to cause dermatitis, kidney or liver abnormalities, and may inhibit skin cell growth or cause skin irritation.

Acrylamide– Found in many hand and face creams. Linked to mammary tumors in lab research.

Sodium laurel or lauryl sulfate (SLS), also known as sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)– Found in car washes, engine degreasers, garage floor cleaners… and in over 90% of personal care products! SLS breaks down the skin’s moisture barrier, easily penetrates the skin, and allows other chemicals to easily penetrate. Combined with other chemicals, SLS becomes a “nitrosamine”, a potent class of carcinogen. It can also cause hair loss. SLES is sometimes disguised with the labeling “comes from coconut” or “coconut-derived”.

Toluene — Poison! Danger! Harmful or fatal if swallowed! Harmful if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Made from petroleum or coal tar, and found in most synthetic fragrances. Chronic exposure linked to anemia, lowered blood cell count, liver or kidney damage, and may affect a developing fetus. Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) contains toluene. Other names may include benzoic and benzyl.

Dioxane– Found in compounds known as PEG, Polysorbates, Laureth, ethoxylated alcohols. Common in a wide range of personal care products. The compounds are usually contaminated with high concentrations of highly volatile 1,4-dioxane, easily absorbed through the skin. Dioxane’s carcinogenicity was first reported in 1965 and later confirmed in studies including one from the National Cancer Institute in 1978. Nasal passages and liver are the most vulnerable. Dioxane is easily removed during the manufacturing process by “vacuum stripping”. Warning: It is a synthetic derivative of coconut. Watch for hidden language on labels, such as “comes from coconut”.

Like parabens, phthalates are also known to be hormone-mimicking chemicals which disrupt normal hormonal processes. And, also like parabens, they are frequently included in our cosmetic and body care products. Phthalates have been found to cause a broad range of birth defects and lifelong reproductive problems in laboratory animals exposed to them during pregnancy and after birth.  The US Environmental Protection Agency lists phthalates as “Chemicals of Concern”.  (Think Before You Pink)
Phthalates are esters of phthalic acid used principally as plasticizers to increase flexibility, transparency, durability and longevity in a large variety of products – including personal-care products, nail polish, fragrances, enteric coatings on pharmaceutical tablets and nutritional supplements, detergents and surfactants, packaging materials, PVC shower curtains, pharmaceuticals, food products, children’s toys, paints, printing inks, lubricants, emulsifying agents, adhesives and glues, vinyl flooring, electronics, building materials, medical devices, food additives, textiles, and inert ingredients in pesticides. (Wikipedia, 2014)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found most of the people they tested in the US had metabolites of multiple phthalates in their urine. Recent human bio-monitoring data found the “tolerable intake” of phthalates for children to be far exceeded, in some instances up to 20-fold. (Wikipedia, 2014)
Phthlates have been found to interfere with the production of male reproductive hormones in laboratory animals. These effects include lower testosterone level, decreased sperm count and lower sperm quality. Exposure to phthalates during gestation can also cause malformations of the male reproductive tract and testicular cancer. (Natural Resources Defense Council, undated)
Because phthalates are not chemically bound to products, they easily off-gas – especially with heat. Exposure to phthalates is by ingestion, inhalation, and applying products which contain them to the skin. (Natural Resources Defense Council, undated)
Wikipedia has a table listing 25 of the most common phthalates along with the abbreviations you might see on product ingredients lists.
Phthalates are banned in cosmetics sold in the EU but not in the US. In this country, they are allowed in color cosmetics, scented lotions, body washes, hair care products, nail polishes and treatments. They may appear on the labels of these products as phthalate, DEP, DBP or simply as ‘fragrance’. (Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, 2011)
Or they may not appear on the ingredients list at all. (Berl, 2012)












The Environmental Working Group says our personal care products expose women to an average of 168 ingredients per day while men encounter about 85 a day.
This list compares US policy versus other countries for some of the more problematic ingredients (Brown, 2014) and (Plasticisers.orgn, 2013):



* Legal in the US.

* Denmark first banned them in 2010 in products made for young   children.

* The rest of the EU announced in 2012 that it was following suit.



* The US banned several types of phthlates in children’s toys in 2008 but continues  allowing them in cosmetics.

High phthalates will continue to be used in Europe. After February 2015, some others will be allowed in the EU only if they’ve been granted for a specific use while low phthalates will be phased out.


FORMALDEHYDE  – used as a preservative in cosmetics

* Legal in the US.

* Canada bans its use in personal care products.


PETROLEUM DISTALLATES – used as inexpensive emolients; can cause contact dermatitis or be contaminated with carcinogenic imporities

* In the US they’re ingredients in eye shadow, lotions, creams, hairspray, foundation makeup and wart remover.

* Banned in the EU.


HYDROQUINONE – an effective skin lightener; linked to lung irritation and tumors in mice

* Legal in the US.

* Banned by Canada and some Asian and African countries.


OCTINOXATE – a popular ingredient that works as a chemical sunscreen; an endocrine disruptor that can upset thyroid hormones and interfere with brain signals

* Legal in the US.

* Perhaps banned in Japan – I couldn’t track this down.


METHYL CELLOSOLVE – a solvent used in anti-aging creams, moisturizers and serums; a neurotoxin and irritant that may cause DNA mutations. Often lumped into ‘fragrance’ when included on labels

* Reviled by the CDC but nevertheless legal in the US.

* Banned in Canada.

* Restricted in the EU.


BUTYLATED HYDROXYANISOLE (BHA) – extends shelf life in lipsticks, moisturizers, shaving creams, fragrances and other personal care products; interferes with hormone function, is a possible human carcinogen, and adversely affects the environment by bio-accumulating in aquatic species

* California requires a warning label on products containing it; legal elsewhere in the US.

* The EU prohibits it in fragrances.


QUATERNIUM-15 – a formaldehyde donor preservative used in body washes, cosmetic powders, shampoos, conditioners and eye shadows; an eye irritant, allergen and probable carcinogen

* Legal in the US, Canada, China, Australia and Indonesia.


NANOPARTICLES – particles so small they can get into the cells themselves and disrupt them; can lodge in airways when inhaled from cosmetic powders and aerosols or absorbed through the skin when in topical preparations.

* The US doesn’t require products containing nanoparticles to be labeled.

* Canada, the UK, and the US Organic Standards Board have or are going to ban nanoparticles in certified organics.







Anderson, A. (2014). ‘Hormone Disruptors’ — Not Just for Menopausal Mommas. Bye Bye Parabens.  See:  http://byebyeparabens.com/blogs/news/12286069-hormone-disruptors-not-just-for-menopausal-mommas

Belanger, B. (2008). Do Your Skincare Products Contain These Chemicals?  Your Certified Organic Products. See:  http://yourcertifiedorganicproducts.com/blog/?tag=parabens

Berl, R.P. (2012). How Safe Are Your Cosmetics? US News and World Report.  See:  http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2012/07/31/how-safe-are-your-cosmetics

Breast Cancer Action. (2014). Safe Cosmetics. See:   http://www.bcaction.org/our-take-on-breast-cancer/environment/safe-cosmetics/

Brown, M. (2014). 12 Cosmetic Ingredients Legal in US; Banned Everywhere Else. Beaute de Maman. See:  http://www.beautedemaman.com/cosmetic-ingredients-legal-in-us-banned-everywhere-else/

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. (2011). What’s In Your Products?  See:  http://www.safecosmetics.org/article.php?list=type&type=33

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. (2011). Phthalates.  See:  http://safecosmetics.org/article.php?id=290

Environmental Working Group. (2014). EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. See:  http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

Gorman, A. & O’Connor, P. (2007).  Glossed Over: Health Hazards Associated with
Toxic Exposure in Nail Salons. Women’s Voices for the Earth. See: http://www.womensvoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Glossed_Over.pdf

Hardin, J.R. (2014). How to Make Yourself Less Attractive to Mosquitoes. AllergiesAndYourGut.com.  See:  http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2014/06/13/make-less-attractive-mosquitoes/

Johnson, C. (2011). Are Parabens Really Harmful? Are There Alternatives? HappyMothering.com. See:   http://www.happy-mothering.com/06/beauty/skincare-cosmetics/are-parabens-really-harmful-are-there-alternatives/

Lal, S. (2012). A Paraben Free & Cruelty Free Cosmetics Guide.  See:  http://www.sparklewithsurabhi.com/2012/01/paraben-free-cosmetics-list-stop.html

Marta. (2012). Honeysuckle preservatives and parabens. TruthInAging.com. See:  http://www.truthinaging.com/review/honeysuckle-preservatives-and-parabens

Mercola, R. (2012). 40 Women With Breast Cancer Had This “Cosmetic Ingredient” in Their Tissues. The Mercola Newsletter, Mercola.com. See: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/04/02/toxic-parabens-on-breast-cancer-patients.aspx

Natural Resources Defense Council. (undated). Phthalates. See: http://www.nrdc.org/living/chemicalindex/phthalates.asp?gclid=CLXLy5T5i78CFdBi7Aodlw0AcA

Osman, R. (A/K/A Rokderm) (2012). Parabens in cosmetics. Is there reason for concern?  See:  http://rokderm.com/2012/07/21/parabens-in-cosmetics-is-there-reason-for-concern/

Plasticisers.org. (2013). FICTION: All phthalates are already being banned. Common Misconceptions. See:  http://www.plasticisers.org/misconceptions/factsandfigures/2/18/All-phthalates-are-already-being-banned/

Safe Cosmetics Action Network.  (2011). Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.  See:  http://safecosmetics.org/

Scheve, T. (2014). What are parabens? HowStuffWorks.com. See: http://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/beauty/skin-and-lifestyle/parabens.htm

Thinkbeforeyoupink. Think Before You Pink – A Project of Breast Cancer Action. See: http://thinkbeforeyoupink.org/

 Wikipedia. (June 1 2014). Phthalate. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phthalate



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