Sunday, October 16, 2011

All the crap in personal care products... Part 1

Ruby from Valemount suggested that I write about harmful chemicals in make-up. I am on my way to San Diego today and saved a number of articles and websites about this topic to read while traveling. I knew a bit about this subject but it's been eye opening to read more about it. One of the resources I used was David Suzuki's website where he lists the "Dirty Dozen" chemicals in personal care products. A common thread throughout this document is that regulations of the various chemicals are much more lax in Canada than they are in other parts of the world such as Europe. Some chemicals, which are banned for use in cosmetics in Europe, are not regulated at all here. For others, the allowed concentrations are ten or hundred fold of what is considered safe in Europe. Maybe people in Europe are just weaker than us Canadians? After all, people are not the same everywhere! Apparently school children can run away from cars much faster in Saskachewan where the speed limit in school zones is 40 km/h instead of the 30 km/h here in BC. All joking aside, the amount of harmful chemicals in cosmetic products isn't funny at all. I guess what happened is, back in the 1930s we thought that our skin was pretty well impermeable. Add to that an ever increasingly eager chemical industry and an underfunded regulatory body and you end up with carcinogenic, hormone disrupting, toxic chemicals in products that claim to be good for you. If you think that government agencies such as Health Canada or the Food and Drug Administration in the US test everything for it's safety you are sadly mistaken. While the process is quite rigorous for new medications to get on the market and thorough and expensive testing is required, no testing is needed for chemicals that are used in cosmetic products. The few chemicals that do get tested are rarely assessed for their long term effects on human health and never in combination with any other chemicals. And while the concentrations for some of these compounds are relatively low, they are often persistent, meaning that they do not break down quickly in the environment and often stay in the body for some time. Also, we use so many different products that while concentrations can be low in individual products, they add up. When it comes to fragrances, companies don't even have to disclose any of the chemicals because fragrances are considered trade secrets. That means you don't have any idea what's in a products that smells nice. Some 3,000 chemicals are used in fragrances and even products that are labeled 'Unscented' or 'Fragrance-free' often contain fragrance chemicals as well as masking agents that prevent the brain from perceiving odor. If you want to find out more about the specific chemicals so that you can take a look at the ingredients in some of the products in your bathroom cupboard check out this link: The major concerns with these harmful chemicals fall into these categories: Some of them are known carcinogens or are associated with causing cancer. Others are called endocrine disruptors because they interfere with hormone function. Some are straight up poisonous and last but not least most of them are untested and we have no clue what they do to us, especially long term. I am descending into San Diego, so I will have to continue with this tomorrow. I am not done, so stand by for more....

No comments:

Post a Comment