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‘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

May 22, 2014

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

May 7, 2014

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

April 23, 2014

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

April 22, 2014

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.


Teens Turning Green Takes Colleges By Storm

Posted April 1st, 2014

Women’s Voices Partners for “Conscious College” Road Trip Promotes Green Living Among Students

March 31, 2014


Judi Shils, judishils@earthlink.net, (415) 939-1232
Caitlin Copple, caitlin.j.copple@gmail.com, (406) 493-4281

MARIN COUNTY, Calif.— A youth-led non-profit Teens Turning Green has partnered with Women’s Voices for the Earth’s Detox the Box campaign to advocate for healthier feminine products during a tour about green living aimed at mobilizing college students across the U.S.

The goal is to excite college students about sustainability projects, including reducing toxic chemical exposure, on university campuses, educating students, faculty, staff and environmental leaders at colleges nationwide and then implementing one specific initiative on each campus.

“Research shows young women develop brand loyalty at an early age, and feminine care companies are increasingly marketing to young women,” explained Erin Switalski, Executive Director at WVE. “College age women have a great deal of of economic power to influence companies to make safer products.”

The six-week Conscious College tour began March 24 at Rice University in Houston and continues on to 14 universities (scroll down for full list), as well as speaking engagements at Greenfest in New York City and Sustaintopia in Miami.

Members of the traveling TTG team include founder/director Judi Shils, co-founder and spokesperson Erin Schrode, and key student leaders. Each campus stop lasts two days and includes a Conscious Information Station that features product sampling, hands-on demos, activities, and conversation, as well as a Town Hall Meeting where students, faculty, and campus leaders determine a sustainability project to be developed on campus with support from TTG. TTG will also interview women about their knowledge of the safety of feminine products and distribute WVE’s new “Detox the Box” wallet guide outlining the hazards of toxic chemicals in tampons.

“We are thrilled to be the first stop on TTG’s Conscious College Road Tour,” added Ashley Ugarte, a junior at Rice University and president of TTG’s Advisory Board. “Rice has been making huge strides in efforts toward a more sustainable campus, and this is a great opportunity for students to become empowered to transition their lives from conventional to conscious and to begin the conversation around greening Orientation Week for our incoming freshman.”

For more information or to get involved, visit TeensTurningGreen.org, email info@teensturninggreen.org or call 415.289.1001. Follow the journey and join us on Facebook, Twitter @TeensTurnGreen, Instagram @TeensTurningGreen and #ConsciousCollege.

Teens Turning Green is a student-led movement devoted to education and advocacy around environmentally sustainable and socially responsible choices for individuals, schools, and communities. TTG seeks to engage youth in the transition from conventional to conscious, empowering the next generation and mobilizing action to sustain a healthy, just, and thriving planet.

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.


Participating Schools

Rice University (Houston, TX), University of Louisville (Louisville, KY), Humboldt State University (Humboldt, CA), Chico State University (Chico, CA), Virginia Tech University (Blacksburg, VA), The Ohio State University (Columbus, OH), Oberlin College (Oberlin, OH), Kutztown State University (Kutztown, PA), Skidmore College (Saratoga Springs, NY), Columbia College , Barnard College (New York, NY) Georgetown University (Washington, DC), University of Delaware (Newark, DE), Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD) Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)

Road Tour Partners

The TTG Conscious College Road Tour is made possible through partnerships with like-minded champions of sustainability and the environment, including Platinum Sponsors: Acure Organics, Whole Foods Market, Suja Juice, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, the Lisa & Douglas Goldman Fund, Silver Sponsors: Aubrey Organics, Avis, Desert Essence, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, Guayaki Yerba Mate, JetBlue, Klean Kanteen, Natracare, Nutiva, Bronze Sponsors: Gaia Herbs, Under the Canopy, and Numi Tea, and Copper Sponsors; Ecojot, RW Garcia, and Vermont Soap


WVE Announces List of Safer Feminine Care Companies

Posted March 26th, 2014

Natracare, Seventh Generation Among Companies Committed to Ingredient Disclosure & Product Safety

March 26, 2014


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

DENVER—Chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive harm are found in some feminine care products used in one of the most absorptive parts of a woman’s body. That’s why Women’s Voices for the Earth, a national environmental health group, has announced a new campaign, “No Secrets,” with nine founding feminine care companies committed to full disclosure of ingredients in their products and eliminating those that may cause harm to women’s health.

The goal of the latest “No Secrets” campaign is to pressure the $3 billion industry to improve standards for transparency and safety, according to Erin Switalski, Executive Director of Women’s Voices for the Earth.

“By highlighting companies who are disclosing all ingredients and committed to making products free from toxic chemicals, we’re showing the industry as a whole that safer, transparent products can be made without hurting the bottom line,” explained Switalski. “We also want to point women toward safer alternatives for products that come into regular contact with extra sensitive and absorbent tissues.”

According to WVE’s landmark “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 can 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.

Currently, the FDA classifies tampons and pads as medical devices, a legal loophole that lets companies avoid ingredients disclosure. Douche, wipes, wash and sprays are regulated as cosmetics and must label their ingredients, but the umbrella ingredient “fragrance” is exempt.

The issue of undisclosed toxic chemicals in feminine care products is especially concerning because vulvar and vaginal tissues are some the most sensitive and absorptive tissues on women’s bodies, Switalski says, noting that chemicals absorbed through the vagina are easily and effectively distributed throughout the body, without being metabolized first. For example, when estrogenic drugs are administered vaginally, the resulting systemic levels of the drug in the body can be 10-80 times higher than when the very same dose is given orally.

To date, No Secrets participants who believe that women have a right to know what they’re using in and on their bodies include Natracare, Seventh Generation, Lunette, My True Moon, healthy hoohoo, LunaPads, Maxim HY, Orchidea Organic, and Veeda.

“Natracare has been the leader in full ingredient disclosure on packaging,” said Theresa White, Senior Executive Office at Natracare. “For us, it’s a mark of integrity, honesty and transparency—allowing women to really know what it is they are putting into and onto their bodies.”

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.

Quotes from No Secrets Members

Theresa White, Senior Executive Office, Natracare: “Conventional brands were unaffected by what women thought about the exposé of the damaging effects of their products on our health and environment, despite being challenged repeatedly by our founder, Susie Hewson, about the dioxin pollution they created, the lack of clarity about the ingredients used and the increasing incidence of toxic shock syndrome associated with their synthetic rayon tampons. Susie learned quickly that being angry was not going to bring about any changes so she decided to develop Natracare to take a stand against greenwashing. Our products are totally chlorine-free organic and natural, and the company is committed to educating women about the issues of toxins and environmental damage. In 25 years since our founding, Natracare has been the leader in full ingredient disclosure on packaging and sees this as a mark of integrity, honesty and transparency, allowing women to really know what it is they are putting into and onto their bodies with Natracare.”

Ashley Orgain Manager of Mission Advocacy and Outreach, Seventh Generation: “The goal of the No Secrets campaign directly aligns with our companies mission. We believe consumers have a right to know what’s in the products they buy, but more that that, we want to ignite a revolution that safeguards women and children’s health by ridding toxins from their lives.”

Shelli Wright, Founder, My True Moon: “Every girl and woman should have products that are healthy for her body and knowledge that’s healthy for her soul.

Rebecca Alvandi, Vice President, Maxim HY: “As a family run and woman-led company, we can’t help but be transparent about our product ingredients and commitment to our mission of providing a natural feminine hygiene solution for the growing population of health conscious women and those with sensitive skin.

Madeleine Shaw, Co-Founder, Lunapads: “Lunapads has been a pioneer champion of healthier and more sustainable menstrual products since 1993. We are proud supporters of the No Secrets campaign and invite anyone with an interest in justice, transparency and positive products and attitudes for menstruation to join us.”

Caron Rohman, Lune North America: “The uncomfortable reality is that you can’t detect risks in menstrual products — and you use them for 25% of your life. What goes in you or on you becomes a part of you and if it’s toxic, you are putting your health at risk. Team Lunette, is upfront with our ingredients — the highest quality medical grade silicone: free of phthalates, biphenyl A heavy metals, latex and BPA. With Lunette — the most trusted name in menstrual cups— you know what you’re getting. Knowledge brings peace of mind to our customers and retailers.”

Stacy Lyon, creator and owner, healthy hoohoo: “I created healthy hoohoo products for my college roommate, closest gal pals, mother, sister and myself. No way was I going to expose our most precious parts to toxic chemicals! From the beginning, I wanted to create a line of products that were simple, pure and effective. When it comes to feminine cleansing, “less is more,” so hoohoo’s formula liberates the body to do what it needs to do. The vagina, after all, is a self-cleaning oven.”

Adrian Forsyth, Director & Co-Founder of Veeda: “We founded Veeda on the principal that every woman should be able to choose, and afford, the purest, safest, most effective products for her body. We believe that disclosing all ingredients is a critical part of empowering women to make fully informed choices. Our goal is for all women—our mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends—to be confident that they are not compromising on their health for product performance or price. With Veeda, they get an affordable natural product that works.”

Jeannie Gallucci, Founder & CEO, Orchidea: “Orchidea believes every woman has the right to know what she is putting into her body. We put women and the planet first by offering a tampon that is 100 percent pure, organic cotton. We proudly list our ingredients because we don’t use chlorine bleach, rayon or plastic.”


33 Toxic Hair Straighteners Under International Recall Still Sold in U.S.

Posted March 17th, 2014

FDA lags in protecting stylists and customers from cancer-causing formaldehyde in products

March 13, 2014

Alexandra Scranton, alexs@womensvoices.org, (406) 396.1639(406) 396.1639, mobile
Caitlin Copple, caitlin.j.copple@gmail.com, (406) 493.4281(406) 493.4281, mobile
Natalija Josimov, Stylist, talia10021@aol.com
Jennifer Arce, Stylist, jenjenjen27@cox.net

NEW YORK —Thirty-three hair-straightening products contain high levels of the cancer-causing chemical formaldehyde causing them to be recalled in other countries, yet the products remain in the U.S. market, according to new research from the national nonprofit Women’s Voices for the Earth.

Straightening treatments release formaldehyde gas and can cause severe eye, nose, and throat irritation, as well as increased cancer risk. Several leading brands of hair straightening products have been found to contain high levels of formaldehyde (also called methylene glycol). The increased risks to salon workers who offer hair-straightening treatments merits further investigation, said Alex Scranton, Director of Science & Research at WVE.

“Based on sound science, other countries are taking strong measures to protect the health of salon workers and their customers from formaldehyde-containing products,” explained Scranton. “While U.S. government regulations continue to fall short, consumers deserve to know what’s in their products in order to make safer decisions about their hair care.”

Natalija Josimov used to swear by hair-straightening treatments for her own coarse, frizzy hair. When she became a hair stylist in 2009, she said she was thrilled to offer the service to her clients. But just nine months after launching her career, she experienced chronic sinus and respiratory infections, painful blisters in her nose, and heart palpitations—all caused by formaldehyde gas released during treatments.

“I think many stylists performing these treatments are under the mistaken impression that the FDA would not allow these products on the market if they were dangerous,” Josimov said. “It took me doing at least 100 treatments before I realized it was making me so ill, and I still have side effects from it. I can no longer work in salons, but many stylists who are put in the position to choose between their health and their career will choose to keep working, which is why we need to get these products off the market.”

Josimov is part of a growing number of stylists and consumers concerned about toxic chemicals in hair-straightening products and the double standard that allows formaldehyde-containing products to be sold in the U.S., despite being banned by other governments around the world. Stories like Josimov’s led WVE to release a new fact sheet alerting stylists and customers to the international recalls of hair-straightening products.

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), an industry-funded and operated panel that assesses the safety of cosmetic ingredients in the United States, declared that formaldehyde was unsafe to be used in hair straightening products in March 2011.  Click here to link to the CIR’s declaration: http://online.personalcarecouncil.org/ctfa-static/online/lists/cir-pdfs/PR582.pdf.

However no hair straightening products containing formaldehyde have been removed from the market as a result of the CIR’s announcement, even though health agencies in other countries have determined that hair straighteners containing formaldehyde are unsafe for use and removed them from the market.

The FDA lacks the authority to issue a mandatory recall of cosmetic products that have been found to cause health problems to consumers. In fact, the agency has yet to issue a voluntary recall of Brazilian Blowout, the first hair straightener found to contain high levels of formaldehyde.  The original formula of Brazilian Blowout was ordered off the market in California by the CA Attorney General in 2012 for violating California air pollution regulations.

Policy changes need to be made to give the FDA authority it needs to truly protect public health. In the meantime, WVE is calling on the FDA to issue a voluntary recall of Brazilian Blowout in the U.S.: http://www.womensvoices.org/issues/cosmetics-salons/brazilian-blowout/actions/.

See the full list of international recalls of hair straighteners.

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.


Cosmetics Companies File for ‘Trade Secret’ Status

Posted January 28th, 2014

Move skirts disclosure of toxic chemicals in new California database

January 28, 2014

Alexandra Scranton, alexs@womensvoices.org, (406) 396.1639(406) 396.1639, mobile
Caitlin Copple, caitlin.j.copple@gmail.com, (406) 493.4281(406) 493.4281, mobile

SACRAMENTO—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.

“Trade secret status should never be allowed to conceal harmful chemicals such as carcinogens or reproductive toxins from consumers,” said Erin Switalski, Executive Director of Women’s Voices for the Earth, a national nonprofit with a track record of convincing companies to disclose and remove toxic chemicals from products women use. “It’s reasonable and prudent for consumers to want to avoid exposure to carcinogens, just as women of reproductive age may well want to avoid exposure to reproductive toxins.”

“We understand and respect the need for companies to have trade secret protections for the few select chemicals needed to a product’s competitive advantage, but we do not believe that these business needs should ever trump public health,” she said.

One example is Shiseido, a manufacturer of skincare, make-up and fragrances sold at popular retailers like Macy’s and Sephora. The company filed for trade secret status on ingredients in nearly 400 products they reported to the state.

Switalski said it’s “highly unlikely” that nearly all 400 products Shiseido reported to the database would have chemicals in them that actually need trade secret protection.

“It appears that they are abusing the system to unnecessarily hide harmful chemicals in some of their products from their customers,” she said.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, of which Women’s Voices for the Earth is a co-founder, also called out the companies requesting trade secret status.

“It’s just plain wrong that companies are hiding chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects under the pretense of trade secrets,” said Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy and co-founder of the Campaign. “Consumers want and deserve full ingredient disclosure.”

Concerned consumers may call the 1-800 number listed on products made by these companies and ask them what ingredients they are hiding from their customers. They can also ask by tweeting the companies by following @women4earth and using the hashtag #nosecrets or tagging the companies in Facebook posts.

The 22 companies that requested trade secret status are:

Alberto Culver

Alberto Culver USA, Inc.

Chattem, Inc.

Colgate-Palmolive Company

Conopco, Inc.

Demeter Fragrance Library, Inc.

Farouk Systems, Inc.

Great Clips, Inc.

Jan Marini Skin Research, Inc.

Lumene Oy

Melaleuca, Inc.

Nars Cosmetics

Regis Corporation

Robell Research

rolland srl

Rowpar Pharmaceuticals, Inc

Schwartzkopf & Henkel

Shiseido America, Inc.

Shiseido Ltd.

Tammy Taylor Nails, Inc.

The Dial Corporation

See an expanded list with company brands.

The California Safe Cosmetics Program Product Database can be accessed at: http://www.safecosmeticsact.org/search/

Founded in 1995, Women’s Voices for the Earth amplifies women’s voices to eliminate toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. Learn more at www.womensvoices.org.


New Study: Toxic Phthalates Declining in Cosmetics Thanks to Consumer Demand

Posted January 22nd, 2014

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ Advocacy Campaigns Behind Changing Consumer and Industry Behavior

January 21, 2014

Margie Kelly, 541-222-9699, mkelly@breastcancerfund.org
Shannon Coughlin, 415-336-2246, scoughlin@breastcancerfund.org

San Francisco—Exposure to certain toxic phthalates has substantially decreased in the American population according to a study led by researchers at UC San Francisco and published today in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Study authors suggest that the decrease may be due to a federal ban on phthalates in toys, as well as cosmetics companies moving away from the use of these chemicals in response to advocacy efforts led by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Levels of some “regrettable substitution” phthalates are on the rise, however, including one that was recently added to California’s Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or reproductive toxicity.

“Kudos to the millions of conscientious consumers whose concerns about phthalates in kids’ toys and cosmetics are now being credited with helping to decrease the levels of phthalates in people,” said Janet Nudelman, policy director at the Breast Cancer Fund and co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which was established in 2004 out of concerns about the presence of phthalates in personal care products.

Phthalates are industrial chemicals, which soften plastics that are used to make common consumer products including fragrances, cosmetics, plastics, and building materials. Phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals; exposure has been linked to early puberty, a risk factor for later-life breast cancer; reproductive harm in males; DNA damage to sperm and decreased sperm counts; and asthma.

Due to their ubiquity in common consumer products and potential to harm reproduction, phthalates have long been a target of state and federal legislative and market-based advocacy campaigns. In 2008, the Breast Cancer Fund led a national campaign that resulted in a Congressional ban on six phthalates in children’s toys.

That law permanently banned three phthalates: DEHP, DnBP (also abbreviated as DBP) and BBzP. According to the study, the levels of all three have gone down in people. Three other phthalates—DnOP, DiDP, and DiNP—were provisionally banned pending further study. Exposures to these phthalates have increased. Of particular note is exposure to DiNP, which increased nearly 150 percent. DiNP, which was recently added to California’s Proposition 65 list of carcinogens, is widely used to replace DEHP in plastics.

“Trading one toxic chemical for another in an endless and costly parade of regrettable substitutions is unacceptable,” said Cindy Luppi of Clean Water Action, a co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. “It’s time for strong laws and corporate policies that make safe products the industry standard.”

Consumer pressure has led more than 1,000 cosmetics and personal care companies to remove some dangerous chemicals, including phthalates, from their products. A 2008 report by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found a marked decline in the use of DEHP and DnBP by the cosmetics industry, compared to the findings of a 2002 Campaign study, which reported 72 percent of shampoos, deodorants, fragrances and other products contained these and other phthalates. Not surprisingly, the study also found a drop in levels of DEHP and DnBP in people.

“Women have historically had higher levels of phthalates in their bodies than men, so the steep decline of certain toxic phthalates in women is a good sign,” said Alexandra Scranton, Director of Science and Research at Women’s Voices for the Earth. “However, we remain concerned that manufacturers may be swapping out high profile toxic phthalates for less well-known phthalates, meaning the potential for harm remains real and more research must be done to protect public health.”

The study, “Temporal Trends in Exposure to Phthalates: Findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2010,” published online today in Environmental Health Perspectives, reports on trends from 2001 to 2010, noting exposure to eight phthalates among 11,000 people who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducted by the U.S. Centers Disease Control and Prevention.

“We commend the researchers for this excellent study, which reinforces the important role policy and market decisions can have on reducing the levels of unsafe chemicals in people and protecting public health,” said Nudelman. “Our campaigns to encourage companies to make safer products and to convince the government to pass health-protective laws have clearly paid off.”


 The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a national coalition led by the Breast Cancer Fund, Women’s Voices for the Earth and Clean Water Action who, along with more than 175 nonprofit organizations, work to protect the health of consumers and workers by eliminating dangerous chemicals from cosmetics. Find out more at http://www.safecosmetics.org.

Informe de Chem Fatale Reporta Peligros en los productos de higiene femenina

Posted November 6th, 2013

Disruptores hormonales, sustancias cancerígenas, en los productos químicos tóxicos que se encuentran en los tampones, duchas, toallas y más

Noviembre 6, 2013

Ryann Nickerson, ryann@colorlatina.org,(303) 393-0382,
Alexandra Scranton, alexs@womensvoices.org, (406) 396.1639, mobile
Caitlin Copple, caitlin.j.copple@gmail.com, (406) 493.4281, mobile
**Abajo encontrara fuentes  adicionales

WASHINGTON, D.C.— “Chem Fatale,” un nuevo informe de Voces de las Mujeres para el Mundo (WAVE), detalla cómo la industria del cuidado femenino vende productos que contienen sustancias irregulares y potencialmente dañinas, incluyendo pesticidas, conservantes, fragancias y colorantes. El informe inicia una nueva campaña que se centrará en Proctor & Gamble, fabricante de Tampax y Always, este revela quw los ingredientes de tampones y toallas debe eliminar las sustancias químicas tóxicas, y alienta a los consumidores a exigir una mayor supervisión gubernamental de la industria $3000 millones en el cuidado femenino.

“Los productos para el cuidado femenino no son solo cosméticos porque se utilizan en una parte excepcionalmente sensible y absorbente del cuerpo de una mujer,” dijo Alexandra Scranton, director de ciencia e investigación y autora del informe “WVE. Es muy necesaria tener mayor control, vigilancia e investigación para garantizar la seguridad de sus ingredientes para la salud de las mujeres.”

Los tampones los usan casi un 85 por ciento de las mujeres que menstrúan, y pueden contener dioxinas y residuos de plaguicidas vinculados al cáncer, los disruptores hormonales, alérgenos e irritantes de fragrancelth. Toallitas femeninas, lavados femeninos y productos desodorantes femeninos contienen conservantes tóxicos como los parabenos, que pueden ser disruptores hormonales, o Quaternium-15 y DMDM hidantoína, que liberan formaldehído que causan cáncer.  La mayoría de los productos de cuidado femenino están perfumados y comúnmente contienen fragancia con alérgenos conocidos como productos contra la comezón.  Estos productos químicos a veces exacerban los mismos síntomas que una mujer usa con la intención de auto-tratamiento con estos productos.

Según el informe, las mujeres negras y las latinas pueden ser afectadas de manera desproporcionada por estas sustancias químicas, ya que son los mayores usuarios de productos tales como duchas vaginales y toallitas femeninas. Las mujeres negras tienen más probabilidades de utilizar aerosoles femeninos y polvos que mujeres de otras razas y etnias.

La normativa vigente sobre productos químicos utilizados en los productos de higiene femenina no son suficientes para proteger la salud pública, a menudo no requieren que se divulguen los ingredientes necesarios para evaluar la seguridad. Tampones y toallas están regulados como productos sanitarios, lo que significa que las empresas no están obligadas a divulgar los ingredientes de estos productos. Otros productos de higiene femenina, regulados como cosméticos, deben etiquetar sus ingredientes, pero los ingredientes de fragancias pueden ser mantenidos en secreto a los consumidores.

“Saber es Poder,” agrego Cristina Aguilar, Directora Interina de la Organización para la Justicia Reproductiva para las Latinas en Colorado. “Pero en este caso, sabemos que muchos de los productos más peligrosos que encontramos pueden causar enfermedades crónicas también y estos productos son dirigidos a mujeres de color. La realidad es que saber esto no es suficiente ya que las latinas tienen disparidades de salud, y también  enfrentan barreras financieras, económicas y geográficas para acceder a alternativas seguras.”

La Asociación Americana para la Salud Publica y el Colegio Americano de Obstetras y Ginecólogos (ACOG) recomendar específicamente esta en contra de la limpieza intravaginal (duchas) porque son asociado a resultados adversos para la salud como el aumento de las infecciones bacterianas. El ACOG tampoco recomienda el uso de tampones y toallas perfumadas, así como los aerosoles femeninos y los polvos, para ayudar a prevenir o resolver trastornos vulvares.

“Los productos químicos utilizados en estos productos son una verdadera preocupación ante la inevitable exposición al tejido vulvar y vaginal sensible a la absorción “, dijo el Dr. Ami Zota, profesor de salud ocupacional y ambiental de la Universidad George Washington. “” Hay una clara necesidad de más investigación sobre los efectos en la salud a la hora de exponer la salud de las mujeres.”

El informe también incluye un “Salón de la Vergüenza” apéndice que destaca ejemplos de productos de higiene femenina que contienen productos químicos tóxicos por marca.

Fundada en 1995, Voces de Mujeres para el Mundo amplifica las voces de mujeres para eliminar las sustancias químicas tóxicas que dañan nuestra salud y a las comunidades. Con miembros en todo Estados Unidos y Canadá, WAVE cambia las prácticas empresariales, teniendo un gobierno responsable, y trabaja para asegurar un futuro libre de tóxicos para todos. Obtenga más información en www.womensvoices.org.

Para entrevistas:

Ogonnaya Dotson-Newman, Director of Environmental Health, WE ACT for Environmental Justice
OGONNAYA@weact.org, (212) 961-1000, extension 310

Ryann Nickerson, Communications Director, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR)
ryann@colorlatina.org,(303) 393-0382

Dr. Ami Zota, Professor, George Washington University
azota@gwu.edu, (617) 512.6045

Andrea Donsky, Registered Holistic Nutritionist (R.H.N.), founder of NaturallySavvy.com, author of Label Lessons: Your Guide to a Healthy Shopping Cart, producer of viral “Pads on Fire” video.
andrea@naturallysavvy.com, (416) 315-2398