Your perfume, shower gel or deodorant could contain chemicals that disrupt hormones, affect immune or nervous systems, or trigger cancer, allergies or other health problems. And not only that, but the chemicals we wash down the drain in our daily ablutions pollute the environment and harm wildlife.
Such is the grim news from the Women’s Environmental Network who have just launched a campaign to end the cosmetics cover up. The campaign aims to empower women to take action and lobby for safer cosmetics and toiletries.
The concern is that women are being exposed to tiny doses of chemicals that can build up in the body. The long-term effects of such exposure are unknown. Chemicals to watch out for include:
Phthalates – found in hair sprays, perfume, nail polishes and some plastics
Parabens – used as preservatives in moisturisers and deodorants
Triclosan – an antibacterial used in deodorants, toothpaste and liquid soaps
Toluene – used in lacquers and nail varnish
Research published a couple of years ago in the USA found that people were being exposed to much higher levels of phthalates than anticipated. Cosmetics were thought to be the missing source. Phthalates have oestrogenic properties and, at high doses, damage male reproductive tissues and cause deformities in developing embryos. Recent research in the USA found phthalates in 52 of the 72 beauty products tested, including all 17 of the perfumes.
Meanwhile another US report looks at the cumulative exposure to phthalates from cosmetics, breast milk, soft PVC toys and even in indoor air because of leaching from PVC products. One source highlighted was PVC medical equipment – tubes, IV bags and blood bags. Many of these products are used in the care of premature babies and so deliver a phthalate dose at the most vulnerable stage of development. The report calls for a phase out of the production and use of phthalates. The EU is trying to get the most toxic phthalate, DEHP, restricted but the chemical industry is delaying them.
Contact WEN for how to get involved in the Cosmetics Cover Up campaign by ringing 020 7481 9004 or visit http://www.wen.org.uk/Contact Health Care Without Harm at http://www.noharm.org/ or ring 01759 368286 for more details about the US research. http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/magazine/news/newsarchive.htm