Women Apply an Average of 168 Chemicals on Their Bodies Every Day
Is it any surprise that the lotions, soaps and other products we use to make ourselves look younger or "better" might contain a nasty slew of chemicals?
If you're unsure or want to understand what these chemicals can do to your health, a recent report in The Guardian would be a good place to start. The report says that although many of these chemicals might be harmless, others might be endocrine disruptors, carcinogens and neurotoxins. Women are particularly at risk since they use more personal products—such as makeup, anti-aging creams and hair products—compared to men.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock
The report was based off research from the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The nonprofit survived about 2,300 people in the U.S., and found that the average woman uses 12 products containing 168 unique ingredients every day. The average man uses six products daily with 85 unique ingredients. By using these products, we might negatively impact our health.
The organization also reported the following:
- 12.2 million adults—one of every 13 women and one of every 23 men—are exposed to ingredients that are known or probable human carcinogens every day through their use of personal care products.
- One of every 24 women, 4.3 million women altogether, are exposed daily to personal care product ingredients that are known or probable reproductive and developmental toxins, linked to impaired fertility or developmental harm for a baby in the womb or a child.
- These statistics do not account for exposures to phthalates that testing shows appear in an estimated three quarters of all personal care products but that, as components of fragrance, are not listed on product ingredient labels.
- One of every five adults are potentially exposed every day to all of the top seven carcinogenic impurities common to personal care product ingredients—hydroquinone, ethylene dioxide, 1,4-dioxane, formaldehyde, nitrosamines, PAHs and acrylamide. The top most common impurity ranked by number of people exposed is hydroquinone, which is a potential contaminant in products used daily by 94 percent of all women and 69 percent of all men.
You'd think that these products would be thoroughly evaluated for safety before they hit the market. However, no premarket safety testing is required for the industrial chemicals that go into personal care products or the chemical industry as a whole, the EWG said.
"With the exception of color additives and a few prohibited ingredients, a cosmetic manufacturer may use almost any raw material as a cosmetic ingredient and market the product without an approval from FDA," according to the federal Food and Drug Administration.
So what's the safest skincare regime to follow? According to the EWG, here are some chemicals you want to pay attention to the next time you shop.
- Soap: Avoid triclosan and triclocarban
- Skin moisturizer and lip products: Avoid retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinoic acid and retinol in daytime products
- Hand sanitizers: Pick ethanol or ethyl alcohol in at least 60 percent alcohol
- Sunscreen: Just say no to SPF above 50, retinyl palmitate, aerosol spray and powder sunscreen, oxybenzone, added insect repellent. Say yes to hats and shade in mid-day sun, zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as active ingredients, otherwise Avobenzone (at 3 percent), SPF 15 to 50, depending on your own skin coloration, time outside, shade and cloud cover. Use a lot and reapply frequently.
- Hair Care: Avoid or limit dark permanent hair dyes, chemical hair straighteners
- Toothpaste: Avoid triclosan
- Nails: Avoid formaldehyde or formalin in polish, hardeners or other nail products. Toluene and Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) in polish. Pregnant? Skip polish
Here are some tips the EWG esspecially came up for women:
And for teens and tweens:
For more recommendations on what not to buy and chemicals to look out for at the store, consult their "Top tips for safer products" webpage.
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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