[En Español]

Testing Reveals Toxic Chemicals in Procter & Gamble’s Always Pads

Posted October 13th, 2014

STAT Analysis results reveal secret carcinogens and reproductive toxins

MISSOULA, MT, October 14, 2014—A national women’s health nonprofit has released independent product-testing results that reveal undisclosed toxic chemicals in Always menstrual pads.

In August Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) commissioned STAT Analysis to analyze volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds in scented, unscented, and Infinity versions of ultra-thin pads sold under the Always brand, which is manufactured by consumer-product giant Procter & Gamble (P&G).

The results of the testing indicate that both scented and unscented Always pads emit toxic chemicals, including chemicals identified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Toxicology Program, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and the State of California Environmental Protection Agency, as carcinogens and reproductive and developmental toxins. The manufacturer discloses none of these chemicals on the product.

Some chemicals of concern detected include styrene (a human carcinogen), chloromethane (a reproductive toxicant), chloroethane (a carcinogen), chloroform (a carcinogen, reproductive toxicant, and neurotoxin), and acetone (an irritant). These chemicals also have industrial uses such as in the manufacturing of car tires, nail-polish remover, and Styrofoam, as well as in petroleum refining.

“Millions of women use these products on a monthly basis on an exceptionally sensitive and absorptive part of the body,” said WVE’s director of science and research, Alexandra Scranton. “Toxic chemicals like these have no place in a product meant to support women’s health. At the very least, disclosure of the ingredients used in these products is necessary so that women can have the information they need to make safe choices to protect their reproductive health.”

“The results demonstrate the need for more testing of these products to better understand the chemical exposures and potential health risks associated with these products,” explained Ami Zota, assistant professor of public health at George Washington University, noting the general dearth of scientific research about how personal-care products impact women’s health.

Currently, the FDA classifies tampons and pads as medical devices, which means ingredient disclosure is not required the way it is with cosmetics. WVE staff hopes that these test results will lead to better regulation of feminine products, requiring disclosure of ingredients, and to support for more research to help protect women’s health.

The Robin Danielson Act was recently introduced in Congress, which would require more research on the risks posed by the presence of chemical fragrances, synthetic fibers, and chemicals like dioxin in tampons and pads.

“We need more information on the presence of chemical contaminants in menstrual hygiene products. The Robin Danielson Act would invest in new research to help women better understand the risks associated with hygiene products so that they can make informed decisions about their health,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), who introduced the bill last spring.

Along with the test results, WVE has joined with consumer advocate Andrea Donsky to deliver more than 21,000 signatures to P&G asking the company to list all ingredients and remove toxic chemicals.

“Because sanitary pads are considered to be a ‘medical device,’ the ingredients don’t have to be listed on the label or disclosed by the manufacturer,” explained Andrea Donsky, founder of NaturallySavvy.com. “To date, we have collected more than 21,000 signatures from women and men across North America who believe we have the right to know what the ingredients are in feminine-hygiene products women use on a daily or monthly basis.”

The release of the Always test results mark the latest escalation of Women’s Voices for the Earth’s “Detox the Box” campaign, which so far has included a scientific report, Chem Fatale, and a spoof music video calling on the world’s largest feminine-product manufacturer, Procter & Gamble, to disclose and remove potentially harmful ingredients from Tampax and Always brands.

Learn more at www.womensvoices.org/DetoxTheBox.

DETOX THE BOX ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER QUOTES

“The fact that there are reproductive toxicants in products that are made for women is incredibly alarming,” said Kimberly Inez McGuire, director of public affairs at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. “Women have a right to know if there are chemicals that could harm their reproductive health in pads that are used for several days, on a monthly basis, on some of the most absorptive skin on their bodies. Products like these pose particular harm to Latinas, who are less likely to have access to health care and more likely to be exposed to toxic chemicals at home and at work.”

Kimberly Inez McGuire, Director of Public Affairs, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

“Corporate companies such as Tampax and Always have devised manipulative, marketable messaging in order to ‘miseducate’ young women about feminine care—and manipulate women who trust these products. Companies must disclose ingredients and make them accessible so that women will know what chemicals to look out for—such as chloroform and chloromethane, both of which are reproductive toxins. This is a reproductive justice issue and a fundamental human rights issue that we must expose.”
Cristina Aguilar, Executive Director, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights

“Young women of all ages and backgrounds are facing a serious problem. From the results of this study, it’s obvious that we’re not being told the whole story, or the truth. In this case we stand with young women globally to demand transparency and their right to health. Ethical companies dedicated to the wellbeing of people and our ​planet have already proven their product’s efficacy, without the need for toxic chemicals.”
Ashley Ugarte, President, Teens Turning Green

“The time has come for us to hold companies accountable for products that contain carcinogens, teratogens, and all other harmful chemicals that inhibit the growth and development the of adults and children. We must begin to think about the importance of using the precautionary principle. In order to build healthy communities, we must have healthy products and protective policies.”

Ogonnaya Dotson-Newman, WEACT for Environmental Justice

MEDIA CONTACTS
Alexandra Scranton, alexs@womensvoices.org, (406) 543-3747, office
Cassidy Randall, cassidyr@womensvoices.org, (406) 543-3747, office

###

Women’s Voices for the Earth amplifies women’s voices to eliminate the toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. With thousands of members across the United States, WVE changes corporate practices, holds government accountable, and works to ensure a toxic-free future for all. Learn more at www.womensvoices.org.

 

SC Johnson Announces an End to Fragrance Secrecy

Posted October 9th, 2014

Makers of Glade become the first major consumer product company to list product-specific fragrance ingredients

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 9, 2014

SC Johnson (Glade, Windex, Pledge) announced today that it would begin disclosing product-specific fragrance ingredients in its cleaning and air-care products beginning in 2015, becoming the first major mainstream company to break the long-held secrecy around fragrance ingredients. Reckitt Benckiser (Airwick, Lysol) and Clorox announced they would begin disclosing fragrance allergens in their U.S. products earlier this year, but SC Johnson’s announcement of full disclosure is the first of its kind.

“We’re proud to see SC Johnson truly embody their claims of honesty and transparency,” said Erin Switalski, executive director of Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE), a women’s health organization that has been advocating for full ingredient disclosure in products since 2007. “SC Johnson’s historic announcement today means that consumers will finally have information they need to make safe and healthy decisions.”

SC Johnson’s move represents a major step in breaking the airtight secrecy companies have maintained around fragrance ingredients in consumer products. This announcement is likely to affect fragrance disclosure policies across industries, including cleaning products, personal care and salon products, and more.

Last year, WVE partnered with the advocacy group SumOfUs.org to deliver the cleaning product giant more than 51,000 signatures from consumers asking to know what ingredients make up the fragrances in the company’s scented products.

“We applaud SC Johnson for listening to its consumers and prioritizing their right to know what is in the products they’re using in their homes,” Switalski said.

By spring 2015, SC Johnson will begin to disclose product-specific fragrance ingredients in its air care products—including sprays, candles, oils and gels—initially in the U.S. and Canada, followed by Europe. Ingredients will be disclosed online at www.WhatsInsideSCJohnson.com. For those product categories outside of air care, such as home cleaning, SC Johnson has said it will list fragrance ingredients as the program expands, although the company hasn’t announced a timeline for this.

Chemicals of concern in fragrance are linked to allergies, cancer, birth defects, and infertility, yet companies across industries have historically maintained that these ingredients are trade secrets. The only ingredient information consumers usually see on a label is the word “fragrance” and any one fragrance can be a mixture of up to 100 different chemicals, out of more than 3,000 commonly used fragrance chemicals.

Since 2007, Women’s Voices for the Earth has run a sustained campaign to promote full ingredient disclosure in the cleaning products industry. In 2007, WVE released Household Hazards, a report identifying chemicals of concern listed on cleaning product safety data sheets—the only form of ingredient disclosure available to consumers at the time. The cleaning product industry responded by initiating a voluntary online ingredient disclosure program, which led to major manufacturers disclosing most cleaning product ingredients for the first time. In 2010, WVE released What’s That Smell?, a report examining the impact of undisclosed toxic chemicals in fragranced cleaning products on women’s health, including phthalates, synthetic musks, and allergens. Cleaning product manufacturers including SC Johnson, Clorox, and Procter & Gamble responded by publicly releasing fragrance ingredient palettes used to manufacture their scented products. In 2013, WVE released the report Secret Scents: How Hidden Fragrance Allergens Harm Public Health, which reported that tens of millions of people suffer from skin allergies associated with fragrance ingredients. Clorox and Reckitt Benckiser responded by committing to disclose fragrance allergens on a product-specific basis. SC Johnson is now the first mainstream cleaning product company to disclose all fragrance ingredients on a product-specific basis.

“We hope that other companies will follow SC Johnson’s lead,” Switalski said. “At this point, companies that don’t list all fragrance ingredients look like they have something to hide. Consumers have a right to know, and increasingly, they’re demanding that right.”

Media Contact
Cassidy Randall, Director of Outreach & Engagement
cassidyr@womensvoices.org, (406) 543-3747, office

###

Women’s Voices for the Earth amplifies women’s voices to eliminate toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. With members across the United States and Canada, WVE changes corporate practices, holds government accountable, and works to ensure a toxic-free future for all. Learn more at www.womensvoices.org.

Clorox Breaks Secrecy Around Fragrance Ingredients

Posted September 15th, 2014

Company announces disclosure of fragrance allergens in response to consumer demand

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 16, 2014

MEDIA CONTACTS
Cassidy Randall, cassidyr@womensvoices.org, (406) 543-3747, office

Clorox victory image

Clorox announced today that it would begin disclosing fragrance allergens in its cleaning and disinfecting products in the U.S. and Canada, becoming the second major cleaning product company to do so. (Reckitt Benckiser (Airwick, Lysol) began disclosing fragrance allergens in its U.S. products earlier this year.) Clorox’s disclosure represents another huge step forward in breaking the airtight secrecy companies have maintained around fragrance ingredients in consumer products.

“As a household name in this country, Clorox’s move to disclose fragrance allergens means that millions of people will have more information to protect their health and the health of their families,” said Erin Switalski, executive director at Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE). “People want to be able to avoid potentially harmful ingredients in products they use everyday, and we applaud Clorox for listening to its consumers’ concerns.”

Clorox announced that allergens will be disclosed online on the company’s Ingredients Inside website and smartphone ingredient app beginning in early 2015.

In 2013, Women’s Voices for the Earth released the report Secret Scents: How Hidden Fragrance Allergens Harm Public Health that found that tens of millions of people suffer from fragrance allergies. Consumers in the U.S. have virtually no way to avoid chemicals that trigger allergic reactions because federal laws don’t require disclosure of ingredients used in cleaning products. In the European Union, cleaning product companies are required to disclose the presence of allergens.

Chemicals of concern in fragrance are linked to allergies, cancer, birth defects and infertility, yet companies maintain these ingredients are trade secrets. The only ingredient information consumers usually see on a label is the word “fragrance”. Yet, any one fragrance can be a mixture of up to 100 different chemicals, out of more than 3,000 commonly used fragrance chemicals.

In 2011 Clorox was the first major company to increase disclosure of fragrance ingredients with the publication of a master list of 1,200 fragrance ingredients used in all their products, although the ingredients on that list are not associated with specific products. The company’s announcement to list fragrance allergens will give consumers the information they need to avoid allergens in a specific product.

Clorox’s major competitor SC Johnson (Glade, Windex) has yet to commit to disclosing fragrance allergens in the U.S., although the company lists fragrance allergens in its E.U products.

“We hope that SC Johnson will follow Clorox’s lead and increase fragrance ingredient disclosure,” Switalski said, noting that WVE’s “Glade’s Toxic Secrets” campaign and spoof website, www.whatsreallyinsidescjohnson.com, has led to more than 60,000 consumers urging the company to make this change.

###

Women’s Voices for the Earth amplifies women’s voices to eliminate toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. With members across the United States and Canada, WVE changes corporate practices, holds government accountable, and works to ensure a toxic-free future for all. Learn more at www.womensvoices.org.

 

Women’s Health Organization Criticizes Always “Like a Girl” Ad

Posted July 21st, 2014

 Viral Always ad peddles products with toxic chemicals that harm women’s health

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 21, 2014

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Cassidy Randall, cassidyr@womensvoices.org, (406) 543-3747, office

CINCINNATI—Procter & Gamble has hit it big—21 million views so far—with its new “Like a Girl” ad promoting female empowerment and Always menstrual pads, but as far as one leading national women’s health organization is concerned, the company has missed the mark.

“While it’s great to encourage girls to challenge stereotypes of what they can and can’t do, coming from a company that markets products that include toxic chemicals known to cause cancer, reproductive harm, and hormone disruption, the message seems hypocritical,” said Erin Switalski, Executive Director of Women’s Voices for the Earth.

Women’s Voices for the Earth’s “Detox the Box” campaign includes a report as well as a spoof music video that demands P&G’s Tampax and Always brands disclose all ingredients and remove harmful chemicals from pads and tampons. Despite receiving more than 30,000 views on YouTube, P&G has not yet responded to WVE’s requests.

“It’s condescending to assume women will buy products based on a slickly-produced ad by one of the world’s biggest companies rather than weighing scientifically-sound information when deciding whether or not Always products are right for them,” said Switalski. “If they truly care about empowering women to make the best decisions for themselves and their daughters, P&G would disclose all ingredients in its tampons and pads and remove those that may harm our health.”

“Like a Girl” has been shared 300,000 times on Facebook and 40,000 times on Twitter.

Founded in 1995, Women’s Voices for the Earth amplifies women’s voices to eliminate the toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. With thousands of members across the United States, WVE changes corporate practices, holds government accountable, and works to ensure a toxic-free future for all. Learn more at www.womensvoices.org.

###

 

New Patent Analysis Shows Toxic Risk From Tampons

Posted July 15th, 2014

Women’s Voices examines harmful chemicals in common products

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 15, 2014

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Alexandra Scranton, alexs@womensvoices.org, (406) 543-3747, office

CINNCINATI—New research and analysis by Women’s Voices for the Earth about toxic chemicals in tampons examines what ingredients comprise this product used by a vast majority of women nationwide, including specific toxic chemicals that may be found in the product’s absorptive materials, as well as additives and fragrances that may put women’s health at risk.

According to WVE’s director of science and research, Alexandra Scranton, the potential impact of toxic chemical exposure from tampons on health is significant because they are used internally, in direct contact to some of the most sensitive and absorptive skin on a woman’s body.

“Despite the widespread use of tampons by numerous women, relatively little research has been conducted to assess the health impacts of chemical exposure from these products,” Scranton said.

Vaginal tissue is lined with permeable mucous membranes, which protect the body from bacteria, but which can also easily absorb or be irritated by other chemicals, Scranton said, adding that vaginal tissues are filled with blood vessels and thus are a direct route for chemicals to be absorbed into the bloodstream. She cited a study by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology that showed that hormone chemicals, like estrogen, are absorbed vaginally at 10-80 times the rate that the same dose would be absorbed orally.

What’s in a Tampon Anyway?

Scranton’s research shows that while manufacturers disclose the main components of tampons, the list usually looks something like this: “Rayon and/or cotton fiber, polyethylene overwrap, cotton cord, cardboard applicator.” What’s missing is the disclosure of the other potential absorptive materials, additives, fragrances, and potential contaminants that can be found in tampons. Public patent documents acquired by WVE and held by tampon and pad manufacturer Procter & Gamble (US Patent #6,840,927) indicate a number of other chemicals they may be adding to tampons, including:

  • Creped cellulose wadding
  • Meltblown polymers
  • Chemically-stiffened fibers, polyester fibers, peat moss, foam
  • Tissue wraps and laminates
  • Super absorbent gels and open-celled foams

Examples of additives that may be used in tampons include:

  • Myreth-3-myristate (as lubricant) (US Patent # 5,591,123)
  • Natural and synthetic zeolites (as odor-absorbing particles) (US Patent # 5,161,686)
  • Alcohol ethoxylates
  • Glycerol esters, polysorbate-20 (as surfactants to disperse fragrance)
  • Unnamed anti-bacterial agents (US Patent # 8,585,668)

Scented tampons are infused with fragrance, which could be made up of combinations of any of nearly 3,000 different chemicals. Examples of potentially harmful chemicals that have been found in fragrance include:

  • Cancer-causing chemicals such as: styrene, pyridine, methyleugenol, and butylated hydroxyanisole
  • Phthalates of concern (DEP and DINP)
  • Synthetic musks (potential hormone disruptors)
  • Numerous allergens.[i]

WVE’s analysis also showed that contaminants can occur in tampons from the processing of individual components. Dioxins and furans are contaminants that come from chlorine bleaching of cotton and have been linked to cancer, reproductive harm, and endocrine disruption.[ii] Additional studies have confirmed that tampons contain low levels of dioxins and furans. While the studies generally conclude that the health risk from exposure to dioxins and furans from tampon use is insignificant compared to the risk of exposure to dioxins and furans we get from eating food, Scranton said women deserve to know all of the ingredients they are inserting into their bodies.[iii],[iv]

“The discussion of the impacts of exposure did not address the application or location of the exposure,” she explained. “While the overall contribution of dioxins and furans to a woman’s blood stream may be minor compared to contributions from the food supply, the health impacts of direct exposure of dioxins and furans to vaginal tissue needs greater examination.”

Lastly, WVE’s research analysis shows pesticide residues can contaminate tampons made from traditionally grown cotton,[v] including Procymidon, which EPA has determined to be a “probable human carcinogen,” and piperonyl butoxide, which has been determined to be a “possible human carcinogen.”

“The biggest problem is the lack of research on this topic,” Scranton said. “Given the widespread use of these products by women across their lifetime, greater scrutiny is clearly needed.”

WVE suggests women concerned about toxic chemicals in feminine products purchase unscented, unbleached tampons, and look for companies – like the ones in their “No Secrets” feminine care coalition of companies – that list all of their ingredients and make products without toxic chemicals.

Founded in 1995, Women’s Voices for the Earth amplifies women’s voices to eliminate the toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. With thousands of members across the United States, WVE changes corporate practices, holds government accountable, and works to ensure a toxic-free future for all. Learn more atwww.womensvoices.org.

Sources

[i] International Fragrance Association (IFRA) (2013) IFRA Survey: Transparency List. Available at: http://www.ifraorg.org/en-us/ingredients

[ii] DeVito, MJ and Schecter, A. (2002) Exposure assessment to dioxins from the use of tampons and diapers. Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 110, No. 1, pp:23-28. Jan. 2002.

[iii] DeVito, MJ and Schecter, A. (2002) Exposure assessment to dioxins from the use of tampons and diapers. Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 110, No. 1, pp:23-28. Jan. 2002.

[iv] Archer JC., Mabry-Smith R., Shojaee S., Threet J., Eckert JJ. and Litman VE. (2005) Dioxin and Furan Levels Found in Tampons. Journal of Women’s Health. Vol. 14, No. 4. 2005.

[v][v] Naturally Savvy (2013). http://naturallysavvy.com/care/is-there-pesticide-residue-on-your-tampons-our-independent-testing-gets-specific

‘Detox the Box’ Video Highlighting Toxic Pads, Tampons, Goes Viral

Posted May 23rd, 2014

Spoof of SNL’s “Dick in a Box” Reaches 15,000 views in under a week

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 27, 2014

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Cassidy Randall, cassidyr@womensvoices.org, (406) 543-3747, office
Caitlin Copple, caitlin.j.copple@gmail.com, (406) 493-4281, mobile

MISSOULA, Mont.— More than 15,000 people have viewed Women’s Voices for the Earth’s hilarious “Detox the Box” video less than a week after it was released. Based on SNL’s wildly popular “Dick in Box” featuring Justin Timberlake, “Detox the Box” aims to convince Procter & Gamble, maker of Tampax and Always and one the world’s largest feminine product manufacturers, to disclose and remove toxic chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption, allergic rashes and more.

“We’re thrilled that thousands of women are responding to the serious message behind this fun spoof video,” said Erin Switalski, Executive Director at Women’s Voices for the Earth. “Women have tremendous economic power, and the more this catches on, the more companies will be held accountable for ingredients that harm our health.”

According to WVE’s groundbreaking “Chem Fatale” report released last fall, tampons are used by up to 85 percent of menstruating women and may contain dioxins or pesticide residues linked to cancer, hormone disruptors, allergens and irritants from fragrance. Feminine wipes, feminine washes and feminine deodorant products contain toxic preservatives like parabens, which may be hormone disruptors, or quaternium-15 and DMDM hydantoin, which release cancer-causing formaldehyde. Most feminine care products are fragranced and commonly contain known fragrance allergens—including anti-itch products. These chemicals sometimes exacerbate the very symptoms a woman is intending to self-treat with these products.

So far, Procter & Gamble has remained silent about WVE’s findings and the new video.

“Our research shows Procter & Gamble uses carcinogens likestyrene, pyridine and methyleugenol in its products, as well as endocrine disruptors like synthetic musks,“ Switalksi said. “In the absence ingredient disclosure, women have no way of knowing whether Tampax and Always, which women may use for several days each month on extremely sensitive skin, contain these toxic chemicals.”

“This video is not only a hilarious way to talk about an uncomfortable subject,” said Cassidy Randall, Director of Outreach and Engagement at Women’s Voices for the Earth and producer of the film. “It sends a hard-hitting message to the biggest consumer product company on the planet that women will no longer stand for secret toxic chemicals in products we use on some of the most absorptive skin on our bodies.”

Special thanks to film directors Gita Saedi Kiely of West of Kin Productions and Katy-Robin Garton of Sprout Films.

Founded in 1995, Women’s Voices for the Earth amplifies women’s voices to eliminate the toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. With thousands of members across the United States, WVE changes corporate practices, holds government accountable, and works to ensure a toxic-free future for all. Learn more at www.womensvoices.org.

###

 

‘Detox the Box’ Music Video Takes on Toxic Chemicals in Pads, Tampons

Posted May 22nd, 2014

Spoof of SNL sketch aimed at mobilizing women to pressure secretive feminine products industry

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 22, 2014

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Cassidy Randall, cassidyr@womensvoices.org, (406) 543-3747, office
Caitlin Copple, caitlin.j.copple@gmail.com, (406) 493-4281, mobile

MISSOULA, Mont.— Toxic chemicals in feminine products don’t stand a chance against 90s dance moves, creative costuming, and thousands of women demanding their right to know what’s in the products that touch some of the most absorptive skin on their bodies, according to a national nonprofit dedicated to eliminating chemicals that harm women’s health.

Fed up with industry silence on secret toxic chemicals in tampons and pads, Women’s Voices for the Earth is escalating pressure on two top brands in the multi-billion dollar feminine care industry with a hilarious new spoof video titled “Detox the Box.” The short video will be released Thursday, May 22, and is a new take on Justin Timberlake’s wildly popular Saturday Night Live skit “Dick in a Box.”

“Women’s health is at risk when companies continue to make products for our most sensitive areas that contain carcinogens, hormone disruptors, allergens, and more,” said Erin Switalski, Executive Director at Women’s Voices for the Earth. “If enough women spread the Detox the Box message, the industry will have to pay attention.”

According to WVE’s groundbreaking “Chem Fatale” report released last fall, tampons and pads are used by up to 85 percent of menstruating women and may contain dioxins, furans, and pesticide residues, which have been linked to cancer, reproductive harm, and hormone disruption, and allergens and irritants from fragrance.

Because pads and tampons are regulated by the FDA as “medical devices” and not “personal care products,” companies aren’t required by law to disclose any of the ingredients used in these products, meaning that women don’t have the information they need to make safe choices to protect their health.

“Our research shows Procter & Gamble uses carcinogens likestyrene, pyridine and methyleugenol in its products, as well as endocrine disruptors like synthetic musks,“ Switalksi said. “In the absence ingredient disclosure, women have no way of knowing whether Tampax and Always, which women may use for several days each month on extremely sensitive skin, contain these toxic chemicals.”

This video is not only a hilarious way to talk about an uncomfortable subject,” said Cassidy Randall, Director of Outreach and Engagement at Women’s Voices for the Earth and producer of the film. “It sends a hard-hitting message to the biggest consumer product company on the planet that women will no longer stand for secret toxic chemicals in products we use on some of the most absorptive skin on our bodies.”

Special thanks to Detox the Box film directors Gita Saedi Kiely of West of Kin Productions, Katy-Robin Garton of Sprout Films.

Founded in 1995, Women’s Voices for the Earth amplifies women’s voices to eliminate the toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. With thousands of members across the United States, WVE changes corporate practices, holds government accountable, and works to ensure a toxic-free future for all. Learn more at www.womensvoices.org.

###

 

Salon, Stylist Input Needed for Environmental Health Survey

Posted May 16th, 2014

Organization assessing salon product use and practices

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 7, 2014

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Jamie McConnell, jamiem@womensvoices.org, (406) 543.3747, mobile
Caitlin Copple, caitlin.j.copple@gmail.com, (406) 493.4281, mobile

MISSOULA, Mont. — A national nonprofit headquartered in Missoula is asking stylists and manicurists to share their salon practices and any health concerns they have about the chemicals used in salon products. Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) is surveying Missoula salons as part of a national program they run that aims to reduce salon workers exposure to harmful chemicals found in some salon products.

WVE will share the survey in a customized public presentation this fall in Missoula about how salons can reduce harmful exposures in the workplace, including what chemicals to watch out for when purchasing products. The survey, which is online here, asks questions related to toxic chemicals in salon products, ventilation systems, and energy efficiency.

WVE opted to assess Missoula salons because the organization is based here, and because it has a high concentration of the more than 1300 salons across the state of Montana. As in other states, the majority of the salon workforce in Montana is made up of women, with 62 percent of salons in the state are owned by women, much higher than the percentage of general small businesses.

Women in the salon profession are especially vulnerable to exposure to harmful chemicals because they may use products that contain toxins like formaldehyde or toluene on a daily basis, according to WVE’s research. Women are impacted differently by such exposures because they can be passed on to a developing fetus via the placenta or a child through breastfeeding. Women also tend to have more fat than men and many toxins tend to build up in fatty tissue.

“We think many salon workers aren’t aware of specific health risks associated with some of the products they come in contact with every day,” said Jamie McConnell, Director of Programs and Policy at WVE. “We respect that the products salons use is a matter of individual choice, and we want to make sure that choice is as informed as possible from both a worker and consumer standpoint.

“Ultimately, our goal is to make sure that every product manufactured and sold to salons is as healthy as possible,” she added. “Stylists shouldn’t have to worry about this and neither should their clients.”

A growing body of scientific evidence indicates there is reason for concern, showing hairdressers are at increased risk of cancers of the lung, larynx, bladder and multiple myeloma compared to the general population. One study has shown that nail salon workers have higher levels of di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP), a reproductive and developmental toxicant, than the general population. Another study found that beauticians and hairdressers are likely to have significant exposure to solvents that are linked to birth defects. Other studies have found cosmetologists are at a higher risk for having spontaneous abortions and low birth weight babies.

To reduce worker and clients’ exposure to harmful chemicals some cities in California have implemented green salon recognition programs. The programs are administered by the city and recognize nail salons that are using nail polishes free of toluene, dibutyl phthalate, and formaldehyde. WVE’s survey results will help to determine whether there is an interest in starting a similar program in Missoula.

WVE has focused on safer salons and cosmetics for more than ten years. The organization has published several reports and factsheets on salon worker health safety including Glossed Over; Toxic Chemicals in Salon Products: What Stylists Need to Know; and The Blowup on Brazilian Blowout.

Salons interested in completing the short survey should contact Jamie McConnell at (406) 543-3747 or fill it out online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/missoulasalonsurvey.

Founded in 1995, Women’s Voices for the Earth amplifies women’s voices to eliminate the toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. With thousands of members across the United States, WVE changes corporate practices, holds government accountable, and works to ensure a toxic-free future for all. Learn more at www.womensvoices.org.

 

###

 

Statement of Support for Rep. Israel’s Cleaning Product Right to Know Act

Posted April 23rd, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 23, 2014

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Jamie McConnell, jamiem@womensvoices.org, (406) 543.3747, office

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Women’s Voices for the Earth supports the recently introduced Cleaning Product Right to Know Act (H.R. 4476) sponsored by New York Congressman Steve Israel (D-Huntington).

“Women’s Voices for the Earth has tested cleaning products and found hidden carcinogens, reproductive toxins and allergens in top selling brands,” said Erin Switalski, Executive Director. “Under the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act, companies will no longer be able to withhold this information from the public.”

The legislation would require ingredient labeling for household and institutional cleaning products. Under current U.S. law, cleaning products are not required to disclose ingredients.

“When we use cleaning products to clean our homes or our offices we assume they’re good for our health,” Rep. Israel said in a media release from his office.

“However, research has shown that chemicals in these products may, in fact, be harming us,” he said. “We all have a right to know what’s in the cleaning products we use, which is why I’ve introduced legislation that would ensure that we can all make informed decisions when deciding which cleaning products to use.”

Rep. Israel cited a 2011 Women’s Voices for the Earth report, Dirty Secrets, which revealed hidden ingredients in cleaning products based on lab testing.  Highlights include:

  • Some products contained reproductive toxins such as toluene and phthalates, carcinogens such as 1,4-dioxane and chloroform, and a hormone disrupting synthetic musk.
  • Several known allergens were also detected in these products, the highest levels of which appeared in fragranced air fresheners.
  • Allergens were found in products marketed as fragrance-free.
  • None of these chemicals were listed on the product’s label.

Rep. Israel’s legislation would require full-ingredient labeling on a product or its packaging. Manufacturers would also be required to provide an online list of each product’s ingredients. Products covered by the legislation include, but are not limited to: air care products, automotive products, polishes or floor maintenance products, and disinfectants. Ingredients must be listed in descending order of predominance by weight. Cleaning products without labels containing a complete and accurate list of all the products’ ingredients will be treated as a misbranded hazardous substance under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act.

Founded in 1995, Women’s Voices for the Earth amplifies women’s voices to eliminate the toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. With thousands of members across the United States, WVE changes corporate practices, holds government accountable, and works to ensure a toxic-free future for all. Learn more at www.womensvoices.org.

 ###

 

WVE Kicks Off Crowdrise Campaign for Spoof Video

Posted April 22nd, 2014

New spoof on SNL’s ‘Dick in a Box’ to inspire awareness, change in feminine products industry

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 22, 2014

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Cassidy Randall, cassidyr@womensvoices.org, (406) 396.1639, mobile
Caitlin Copple, caitlin.j.copple@gmail.com, (406) 493.4281, mobile

MISSOULA, MT—Women’s Voices for the Earth is ramping up efforts to mobilize women to convince leading feminine product manufacturer to disclose all ingredients by releasing a new music video. “Detox the Box” spoofs Justin Timberlake’s 2009 Saturday Night Live “Dick in a Box” skit, and the organization hopes to raise $15,000 through a Crowdrise campaign to fund post-production costs. The full Detox the Box video will be released on May 22.

“We’re well on our way to making a hilarious video we hope will go viral because too many women still don’t know about hidden toxic chemicals in feminine products,” said Erin Switalski. “It’s going to take all of us to convince companies to disclose and remove harmful ingredients in their products.”

The Detox the Box video comes on the heels of WVE’s groundbreaking “Chem Fatale” report about the hidden toxic chemicals lurking in feminine care products, including pads and tampons. These unregulated toxic chemicals are linked to some serious health problems, including increased risk of breast cancer, reproductive problems, asthma, and allergic reactions, Switalski said.

“With your financial help, we can release a video that will knock your socks off—and scare the pants off of any corporation that thinks it can hide toxic chemicals in products that affect our most sensitive body parts,” Switalski said.

Here are three easy ways to help:

  • Sign up to be part of the WVE team via Crowdrise. Simply visit our page and click on FUNDRAISE FOR THIS CAMPAIGN and you’ll instantly have your own fundraising page as a part of our Team.

Founded in 1995, Women’s Voices for the Earth amplifies women’s voices to eliminate the toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. With thousands of members across the United States, WVE changes corporate practices, holds government accountable, and works to ensure a toxic-free future for all. Learn more at www.womensvoices.org.

###