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Tests Find Toxics in Broad Array of Consumer Products

Center for Health, Environment & Justice

Toxic chemicals linked to the rising rates of endocrine disruption related disease were found in a broad array of consumer products and reported in a peer reviewed article in Environmental Health Perspectives on March 8. The Silent Spring Institute tested 213 consumer products, including cleaning products, cosmetics, sunscreens, shower curtains, air fresheners, drier sheets, and other household goods made by Colgate, Unilever, S.C. Johnson, Johnson and Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Seventh Generation, and Ecover among other manufacturers.

“These test results show that both conventional and so-called green products contain hidden toxic chemicals that are not on product labels—so consumers have no way of avoiding them,” says Alexandra Scranton from Women’s Voices for the Earth, who recently conducted their own tests for hidden toxic chemicals in 20 top brand-name cleaning products. “Companies need to phase out these harmful chemicals, and we need a policy that standardizes labeling guidelines for cleaning products, so companies can’t keep these toxic chemicals a secret.”

Environmental health advocates across the nation see this new study as confirmation that ubiquitous chemical exposure is playing a factor in adverse health impacts.

“Silent Spring used Battelle Labs in Ohio, and they found 55 chemicals associated with endocrine disruption or with asthma, including parabens, BPA, triclosan, Alkylphenols, cyclosiloxanes," said Martha Arguello, with Physicians for Social Responsibility—Los Angeles. "It is not good science to assume that cumulative exposure to these chemicals is safe."

“This new study found PVC products, including a pillow protector and shower curtain, contained high levels of the toxic phthalate DEHP,” said Mike Schade from the Center for Health, Environment & Justice. “Phthalates have been banned in toys, but are widespread in many PVC products children come in contact with in schools and even at home. Phthalates have been linked to asthma, adverse impacts on brain development, and reproductive health problems in baby boys. Thankfully, there are safer cost-effective alternatives to phthalate-laden PVC products for our schools and homes.”

“Many  products are targeted to women of color who suffer from high health disparities that can be linked directly to the endocrine disruptors found in these products. We can only hope that studies like this one inspire better policies and regulations of these dangerous chemicals,” said Janette Robinson-Flint from Black Women for Wellness. “Mother shouldn’t have to be a biochemist to protect themselves and their families from toxic chemicals in everyday products.”

“We know many folks have tested positive for BPA and Triclosan in our human biomonitoring studies,” said Sharyle Patton, director of the Biomonitoring Resource Center at Commonweal. "One has to wonder if rising rates of  associated health problems  are linked to these exposures.”

Caroline Cox, research director, Center for Environmental Health, said, “These unnecessary, untested and unlabeled chemicals in dozens of everyday products threaten our children’s and families’ health. It’s past time for federal action that calls for evaluating chemicals for safety before they end up contaminating our homes and our bodies.”

“This is another example of the failure of federal law to protect workers and consumers,” said Sarah Doll from SAFER States. “States have been acting to protect consumers from toxic chemicals in products for years now, and will continue to move on these issues in the absence of federal reform.”

The products were tested in 2008, and the study authors acknowledge that product samples can vary and that some formulations may have changed.

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