Good Chemistry: Green Tips for Better Health, from Planned Parenthood of Northern New England

Posts Tagged ‘fragrance’

Not So Sexy: The Health Risks of Secret Chemicals in Fragrance

A while back, I did a post on my arch-nemesis –the perfume aisle. I couldn’t figure out why just the act of walking through it was giving me migraines, making me sneeze, and leaving me feeling miserable.

NotSoSexy_coverIn their new report, “Not So Sexy: The Health Risks of Secret Chemicals in Fragrance,” the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics reveals exactly why fragrances can and do make people sick—they are filled with hidden, hazardous chemicals.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics commissioned tests of 17 fragranced products at an independent laboratory. The  Environmental Working Group assessed data from the tests and the product labels.  The products that were tested -- including celebrity brands J Lo Glow and Britney Spears’ Curious, and colognes Abercrombie & Fitch Fierce and Old Spice – contained multiple allergens and hormone disruptors, and many secret chemicals not listed on labels.

On average, these 17 products contained:

  • 14 secret chemicals not listed on labels due to a major loophole in federal law that allows companies to claim fragrances as trade secrets.
  • 10 sensitizing chemicals that can trigger allergic reactions including headaches, wheezing, asthma, chest tightening and contact dermatitis such as skin rashes.
  • 4 hormone disrupting chemicals linked to a range of health effects including sperm damage, thyroid disruption and early puberty.        

People are unknowingly exposed to hazardous chemicals that are hidden in their favorite perfumes, colognes and body sprays—chemicals that are then absorbed into people’s bodies. Even babies, our most vulnerable population, have these chemicals in their blood at birth. This is unacceptable.

Here’s how you can help change this:

  1. Stand up and tell legislators we need safer products and smarter laws to protect us from toxic chemicals in personal care products: Sign the petition to Congress to voice your support!
  2. Sign on to the letter to the celebrities whose fragrances were tested –ask them to show their true leadership by taking a stand against toxic chemicals in personal care products, beginning with their own fragrance lines.
  3. You can also contact other cosmetics companies to ask them to disclose their fragrance ingredients. We've put together talking points to get you started.
  4. Support companies that fully disclose ingredients in their products.
  5. Use the Skin Deep advanced search to find products that do not include fragrance. Read ingredient labels, because even products advertised as “fragrance-free” may contain a masking fragrance.  Remember, less is better: If you are very attached to your fragrance, consider eliminating other fragranced products from your routine, and using fragrance less often.

Everyone has the right to know what’s in the products they spray on their bodies and lather on their skin. Please show your support by standing up to the chemical industry today.

Posted by on May 12th, 2010 2 Comments

Fragrances Stink–Especially While Pregnant

The birth of a child is a highly anticipated moment.  It’s the culmination of months of preparation, patience, and dare I say it, resisting temptation. Everything from coloring your hair, to eating sushi, to drinking alcohol is put on hold the moment you find out you’re pregnant. Here’s another “no-no” to add to your list: artificial fragrances.

Synthetic chemicals found in umbilical cord blood of American newborns.A study by the Environmental Working Group revealed 232 contaminants in the umbilical cord blood of 10 newborn American babies. Synthetic musks, common components of fragrance, were found in 7 of the blood samples.

These results are significant because artificial fragrances are toxic and have been linked to developmental illness, infertility, even birth defects and cancer.

What’s even more disturbing is due to labeling laws, the ingredients in fragrance products are considered “trade secrets,”  and do not need to be disclosed.

If you’re pregnant –or planning on it—here are some precautionary measures you can take:

  • Choose products free of synthetic fragrance.
  • Make your own cosmetics.  The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has great recipes.
  • Be proactive. Contact the manufactures of your favorite lotions, perfumes, and lip balms, and encourage them to use non-toxic ingredients and to fully disclose this information on labels.

As wonderful as it is to look and smell nice, consider the risks of the products you’re using and their effect on your newborn.  By forgoing those toxic perfumes, you’ll be able to enjoy that new baby smell even more.

Posted by on December 29th, 2009 3 Comments

Savvy Sunscreen Selection

I have been committed to slathering on suntan lotion for some time now.  In my 20s I foolishly sought a sun-kissed glow to add to my appeal, but I usually ended up looking like a giant red-lobster. Now, in my 30s, I am trying to “make-up” for all of my blistering burns, so I have been applying copious amounts of high SPF sunscreen.  My husband tells me I am the easiest person to spot on a beach – he simply looks around for the palest (we’re talking white) body and there I am.  While the ingredients in the sunscreen have been working to block out the UV rays that cause my skin to burn red, the ingredients have not necessarily been working to shield my health.

sunscreen1

UVA and UVB rays both contribute to skin cancer, wrinkling, and skin aging.  I was always under the belief that a higher SPF meant greater protection from UV rays.  However, according to Environmental Working Group, SPF, Sun Protection Factor, “is only a measurement of the how well a sunscreen will protect skin from UVB rays, the kind of radiation that causes sunburn.”  SPF does not measure a product’s protection from UVA rays.  Look for products labeled UVA/UVB or broad spectrum for protection against both types of UV radiation.

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Posted by on June 28th, 2009 3 Comments