Posted March 14th, 2014
March 13, 2014
Conventional wisdom says that what you don’t know can’t hurt you. Unfortunately, that’s not the case when it comes to personal care products and cosmetics.
A study by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics indicates that women use an average of nine personal care products each day, exposing themselves to a mixture of over 100 individual chemicals. In 2003, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that women had significantly higher levels of 10 of the 116 toxic chemicals they tested for than men. Three of the 10 chemicals were phthalates, a group commonly found in health and beauty products and linked to birth defects (PDF). In fact, almost any chemical – including those linked to breast cancer, hormone disruption, reproductive problems, and allergies – can be used in cosmetics.
Posted March 4th, 2014
Environmental Health Perspectives
March 3, 2014
Vaginal research got a desperately needed boost at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1992. That’s when Penny Hitchcock took over the Sexually Transmitted Diseases Branch at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Nancy Alexander became chief of the Contraceptive Development Branch in the NIH Center for Population Research—posts previously held by men. “Those two got together and discovered NIH had no programs for vaginal research,” says Richard Cone, a Johns Hopkins biophysics professor. Cone had begun developing vaginal contraceptives that would protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in 1980, and until then, struggled to get funding.
Hitchcock and Alexander soon initiated research programs on vaginal physiology, immunology, and microbicides, eventually funding Cone’s work. These new programs led to groundbreaking discoveries in animals and humans that certain chemicals—including glycerin (glycerol), a common base for personal lubricants—can damage or irritate vaginal1 and rectal2 epithelial cells, potentially increasing the transmission of STIs such as herpes and human immunodeficiency virus.
Posted February 14th, 2014
San Jose Mercury News
Februrary 12, 2014
A widely touted state program to give the public more information about harmful chemicals in cosmetics is falling short of its mission, hobbled by a lack of participation from the cosmetics industry, outdated information and a loophole that lets companies keep their ingredients secret.
Experts say the shortcomings of the California Safe Cosmetics Program Product Database, which went online a month ago, reveal the challenges the state faces in trying to impose transparency on a national $60 billion industry that had been allowed to keep harmful ingredients off product labels.
Posted February 12th, 2014
January 31, 2014
New database created to let consumers know if personal care products contain carcinogens, but ‘trade secrets’ claim lets companies skirt transparency.
Corporate power seems to be thwarting the public’s right to know if the personal care products they use contain potentially harmful ingredients. Selsun Blue is one of the products that lists trade secret for an ingredient. As a result of the California Safe Cosmetics Act, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) earlier this month rolled out a searchable database through which consumers could see if their personal care products contain carcinogens or reproductive toxins.
Posted February 5th, 2014
January 30, 2014
Twenty-two companies have requested trade secret status to avoid telling the public about toxic chemicals found in nearly 1,500 cosmetic products included in the new California Safe Cosmetics Program Database. The database was released earlier this month as part of the state’s Safe Cosmetics Act, which requires companies to report ingredients in their cosmetic products that are considered carcinogens or reproductive toxins under Proposition 65.
Women’s Voices for the Earth’s recent analysis shows that more than 20 companies—including the makers of Dial, Right Guard, Tresemme, Nexxus, Gold Bond, Selsun Blue, and even “green” brands like CHI Organics—are attempting to skirt the intent of the California’s Safe Cosmetics Act by avoiding public ingredient disclosure in the state’s new database.
Are your tampons toxic? How many feminine care products ‘contain undisclosed ingredients’ linked to allergic rashes, asthma and cancer.
Posted January 14th, 2014
Daily Mail Online
December 23, 2013
A new report sheds light on the potentially harmful chemicals found in feminine care products and calls for a stronger regulation of ingredients.
Chem Fetale, issued by the Montana-based health advocacy group Women’s Voices for the Earth, focuses on the undisclosed substances contained in tampons, sanitary towels and wipes, such as preservatives, pesticides, fragrances and dyes.
Posted January 7th, 2014
December 22, 2013
Nowadays, we hear a lot about the noxious cocktail of chemicals that can be found in our food, furniture, cleaning products and even our cosmetics. Yet we never really hear about what might be included in some of the most intimate personal care products women use.
“Chem Fatale” — a report recently released by Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) — attempts to shed some light on this subject by taking aim at the $3-billion-a-year feminine care industry. In particular, the group examines products such as maxi pads, tampons and douches that contain potentially harmful ingredients including pesticides, dyes and dioxin, which has been identified by the World Health Organization as a Persistent Organic Pollutant, a toxic chemical that persists in environments for long periods of time. The report also includes a “Hall of Shame” appendix that features examples of feminine care brands that contain toxic chemicals.
Posted January 7th, 2014
December 23, 2013
Living in this day and age, one learns to accept that there are harmful chemicals in a lot of the things we surround ourselves with and ingest: there are toxins in cosmetics, in food, in cleaning products, and so on and so (terrifyingly) forth. So, while it’s probably not surprising that feminine care products — tampons, pads, feminine wipes and douches — contain toxic substances, it is alarming how little is known about the scope and seriousness of the problem.
According to “Chem Fatale,” a creatively titled report recently released by Women’s Voices for Earth (WVE), 85 percent of women use tampons. Tampons are normally made from bleached cotton and/or rayon; the bleaching process can expose the product to toxic dioxins and furans, which have been linked to “cancer, reproductive harm and endocrine disruption,” and tampons made from non-organic cotton may contain pesticides. A 2002 study found “small but detectable” levels of both compounds in four separate tampon brands, and, although the study authors declared the toxin levels “insignificant compared to the risk of exposure… people face from eating food,” they failed to take into account the fact that vaginal tissue is highly permeable.
Posted November 22nd, 2013
MT Public Radio
November 6, 2013
Almost all women use some form of feminine care product – from tampons to sprays – but how toxic are these products?
Surprisingly, according to the Missoula-based Women’s Voices for the Earth, there have been few studies of their toxicity – until now. The group has just released their report, titled “Chem Fatale”, of the potential health effects of toxic chemicals in feminine care products. The report found that few of these products have been tested for their safety and that many contain some level of toxic chemicals.
Posted November 22nd, 2013
November 6, 2013
Let’s face it: Americans aren’t overly comfortable with vaginas. That simple fact has helped to grow a multi-billion-dollar U.S. market for products such as douche, feminine wipes and deodorants, and fragranced tampons and maxi pads, many of which are marketed as a “solution” to vaginal problems that are themselves marketing inventions. In fact, the American Public Health Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend against intravaginal cleaning as well as the use of fragranced tampons and pads, feminine sprays and powders.
A recent survey of available research on the effect of these products on women’s health, conducted by the nonprofit group Women’s Voices for the Earth, reveals that many feminine care products—particularly those that are heavily perfumed—contain high levels of potential carcinogens, as well as endocrine-disrupting chemicals, which can cause tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. Because chemicals absorbed by the vagina do not have to be metabolized to make their way into all of the body’s systems (which is why some estrogenic drugs are intentionally administered vaginally), public health advocates are calling for closer regulation of these products as well as greater responsibility and transparency from the companies that manufacture them.