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Getting Personal with Chemicals
We should be able to trust that the products we buy are safe — especially the ones our families use every day, directly on our bodies.
However, we looked into common ingredients in popular personal care products, and found that when we use these products, like shampoo, baby wipes, deodorant, shaving gel, or perfume, we are often dosing our bodies with chemicals that can disrupt our hormones, cause developmental problems, cause cancer, and more.
Most people are troubled when they learn that manufacturers can put almost anything they want in the personal care products that we use on our bodies every day. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have the power to require safety testing or approval before these products hit store shelves, so manufacturers have the responsibility to make sure these products are safe.
Consumers are increasingly demanding safe, non-toxic products, and CALPIRG Education Fund is working to convince personal care product manufacturers to remove toxic chemicals from their products, and to disclose the chemical ingredients they use to create fragrances in their products, which are currently kept secret.
This consumer guide describes the results of our investigation of 10 popular personal care products that contain chemicals of concern. Chemicals of concern are chemicals linked to negative health effects by peer-reviewed studies or government research. The fact that personal care products contain chemicals of concern does not necessarily mean they violate the law. This consumer guide also describes 10 safer alternative products that do not contain these chemicals of concern.
We can’t definitively say that any particular product is 100% safe for all users. We chose to highlight the safer products because they are formulated without major chemicals of concern that are found in many personal care products. Of course, in addition to the toxic concerns that we are raising, it’s possible for people to be allergic to particular ingredients, or have other kinds of sensitivities depending on genetic or environmental factors. It’s best to look for products with low-hazard ingredients, like the ones we highlight on our list.
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