I started writing this article with the intention of listing the countless chemicals found in many store-bought personal care products. I wanted to familiarize myself, and share with you, the resulting negative side effects of lesser known chemicals so we could make more educated purchases. What I ended with was far different.
Most of us now know to avoid BPA, a chemical in plastic containers, due to their endocrine disrupting behavior and eliminate paraben exposure as it can disturb our hormone balance. But fewer of us know about the other, untested, 80,000 toxic ingredients on the US market today.
Effects of Propylene Glycol
A chemical that stood out to me was Propylene glycol, found in personal care products, food and medicinal drugs, which has been found to cause skin irritation, lethargy and coma along with many other reactions .
In 1947, twenty-nine monkeys were continuously exposed to propylene glycol vapor (used in theatrical stage fog) over a period of 13 months. Nearly half of the monkeys died over the course of the experiment . This is not to imply that those deaths were a direct cause of exposure to propylene glycol, yet it does suggest that there is some link between the use of this chemical and hazardous side effects.
For instance 49.4 million Americans currently suffer from eczema or atopic dermatitis , a dramatic increase since the 1950’s. According to the National Eczema Association, “the exact causes of eczema are unknown.” What IS known is that propylene glycol is present in many common soaps, shampoos and moisturizers and has been known to “cause eczema within 24 hours”.
The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was written into law in 1976. This law protects 60,000 chemicals currently in use without extensive safety testing. These ingredients, used in the manufacture of personal care products, food and cleaning supplies are not required to be tested before being marketed and sold to consumers in the United States.
Richard Denison, a biochemist with the Environmental Defense Fund who has also served on government and industry advisory boards states that, “The vast majority of industrial chemicals have never been required to be tested for safety.”
When chemicals ARE tested and shown to have adverse effects, like propylene glycol, the research is written in such a vague way as to intentionally confuse the consumer or minimize the negative side effects of its use. Phrases such as “frequent skin exposure to propylene glycol can sometimes irritate the skin” and “only dangerous at significant exposure levels” are left up to interpretation and leave the reader with more questions than answers.
Hold the Manufacturer Accountable
Toxic chemicals are found in nearly everything we touch, eat and breathe. As such, I determined that developing a list of harmful ingredients with their side effects wouldn’t bring us any closer to the question of “which products are safe to use?”
Without thorough research and safety testing to turn to, how could we possibly determine which chemicals to avoid. What we, as consumers, could do would be to examine the manufacturers of these ingredients and the policies that protect them, and then make a personal choice.
Recently, major companies have been forced to reformulate their personal care products for export due to stricter chemical safety laws in Europe and China. Yet these same companies continue to use those hazardous ingredients in the products they sell to Americans.
With extensive research about the dangers of these ingredients at their fingertips, why would companies continue to sell the products to us?
The answer is simple…profit over people. But the solution is simple too....stop supporting these companies. It's as simple as that. Refuse to give another dollar to a company that is not concerned with your health and well-being.
Nature to the Rescue
The only real assurance is nature. If Mother Nature made it, and you are not personally allergic to it, you’re better off taking your chances with an ingredient mastered through millions of years of evolution and made available to you by the original healer herself.
An eon of natural selection versus a century of lab experiments…I’ll take evolution for $1000 Alex!
This is our promise to you. We will continue to work hard to develop products consistent with our family/business values in order to provide you with products you can trust.
Avoid chemical exposure as much as you can in all areas of your routine including your skincare, cleaning supplies and food. Your immune, endocrine and lymphatic system will thank you.
Read labels. Vote with your dollar.
2. Department of Dermatology, Oregon Health & Science University. (2007, June 18). A population-based survey of eczema prevalence in the United States.
4. Daniel Zwerdling. (2014, January 14). The Catch-22 in the Toxic Chemicals Law. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2014/01/14/262503731/the-catch-22-in-the-toxic-chemicals-law
5. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry. (1997, September). Public Health Statement for Propylene Glycol. Retrieved from http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=1120&tid=240