By Dr. Ellen Kornmehl
We try to be informed consumers, pouring over ingredient labels and shying away from products that may be deleterious to health. But how reliable are those ingredient lists and promising claims of “safe” and “non-toxic?” As it turns out, not very reliable at all. A new study testing everyday household commercial items for chemicals linked to breast health, growth, and asthma shows that conventional products, as well as “safe, green” alternatives, contained 55 potentially harmful chemicals. The agents tested were hormone-or endocrine-disrupting compounds, with potential links to breast cancer, male infertility, and abnormal development, as well as chemicals associated with asthma.
Published in Environmental Health Perspectives by the Silent Spring Institute, a national research agency in Newton, MA, the study is the largest commercial product-testing survey of its kind. Products tested (see list here) included shampoos, sunscreens, cleaning agents, bedding, hand soap, laundry detergents, lipstick among 50 product types. The highest levels of phthalates, DEHP, DEP, BBP, used to soften plastics and regarded as relatively strong hormone disruptors, were present in vinyl household products, such as pillow protectors and shower curtains. Sunscreens and fragranced products — including air fresheners, dryer sheets, and perfume — had the largest number of target chemicals and some of the highest concentrations.
Phthalates are linked to concerns about children’s growth and development as well as reproduction and have been banned in children’s products in the EU since 2005 and regulated in the US since August 2008. Continue reading