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Tag: Environmental Working Group

Embrace Your Curls, Don’t Chemically Straighten Them!

According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, chemical hair straighteners are some of the most toxic products that you can absorb through your hair and scalp.

With a pH of about 12, similar to that of household ammonia or soap, chemical relaxers are among the most caustic cosmetic products on the market, says the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit environmental organization that is behind the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Along with hair dyes, hair straighteners are the source of more complaints to the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors than almost any other product.

While I’ve never been one to use a chemical hair straightener, there have been many, many times when I’ve wished for a good solution to managing my wild tangle of curls and frizz. You should see the shelves of half-used hair products around my bathroom — if you’re not someone who has struggled to control their hair for decades, then you might think it was overkill.   🙂

Luckily, my sister introduced me to Ouidad products a few years ago, though it wasn’t until I made the trek into a Ouidad salon a few times that I got the right cut and the hang of how to style it. Now I can celebrate my curls instead of curse them. I’ve even entered the Ouidad curl contest — you can help me out by casting your vote below and passing it along.

Here’s to beautiful curls without toxic chemicals!

Toxins in Nailpolish

You may be surprised to learn this natural girl keeps her toenails prettily polished in fun magentas and reds. It’s a monthly ritual for my mother and I to steal an hour together at the nail salon while enjoying the decadent pleasure of a pedicure.

That’s why I was pleased to learn that OPI Products, the worlds’ largest nail polish manufacturer, responded to pressure brought on by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics by removing dibutyl phthalate and toluene from its nail polishes in 2006. These are petroleum byproducts (i.e., waste from refining) that are cancer-causing endocrine disruptors.

So when big companies whine that they couldn’t possibly find safer ingredients and still offer an effective product, we should remember the example of OPI and the millions of bottles of nail polish no longer emitting toxic fumes to sicken salon workers or leaching toxins through the nails of polish wearers.

Don’t be fooled by BPA mis-information

Last weekend the Washington Post reported on a closed-door meeting where canned beverage and food industry executives brainstormed a public relations and lobbying strategy to counteract growing awareness of the dangers of bisphenol-A (BPA).

Bisphenol A (BPA) is the chemical resin used in the linings of metal cans and lids as well as plastic bottles and food containers and hundreds of other household products. Manufacturers like it because it adds strength to plastics and shelf-life to canned foods. Aware consumers hate it because it leaches into the foods we eat and drink from these containers.

According to the Post’s crack reporting, the industry reps decided that they needed to target their mis-information campaign at young mothers who make purchasing decisions. “Their ‘holy grail’ spokesperson would be a ‘pregnant young mother who would be willing to speak around the country about the benefits of BPA,'” the notes from the meeting said.

As if we needed more confirmation that many corporations are more concerned about the state of their profits than the health and safety of their customers or the earth, here it is. Safer alternatives to BPA are already being used in Japan, but that is not a focus of the manufacturing industry here in this country, funnily enough. They claim it will cost too much. A sadly familiar refrain.

The North American Metal Packaging Alliance has budgeted one-half million dollars to spend crafting a message designed to fool the public into thinking BPA is actually good for you, instead of a toxic substance that disrupts the delicate hormonal balance in our bodies. More than 100 publications in the last decade have linked low-dose BPA toxicity to breast and prostate damage, early puberty, behavioral problems, and other effects at levels up to 25 times lower than EPA’s “safe” dose.

One reason for the industry is running scared is that the chemical industry lobbyists who convinced the FDA that the BPA was safe have been discovered, along with the exclusion from policy-making of scientific findings and scientists that disagreed with this assertion. In fact, California just banned BPA from products intended for children under three years old.

The anti-BPA wave is starting. Don’t let the chemical industry lobbyists fool you when they flood the media with their pro-BPA message delivered by their young, pregnant “holy grail.”

Would you bathe your baby in formaldehyde?

Last month the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and partner organizations released a report revealing that dozens of popular bath products for babies and kids contain at least two hazardous contaminants: 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde.

Both of these chemicals cause cancer in animals, and formaldehyde is also known to cause skin rashes in people who are sensitive to the chemical.

Parents around the world were particularly infuriated that Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, the iconic brand that many hospitals send home with new babies, contained both of these contaminants – neither of which is listed on ingredient labels.

The caustic baby shampoo story was covered across the United States, around the world and online. Concerned moms called Johnson & Johnson – and then blogged about the company’s dismissive response.

Of the report, J&J said, “The trace levels of certain compounds found by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics can result from processes that make our products gentle for babies and safe from bacteria growth,” and the Campaign should stop “alarming” parents.

The Campaign thinks parents have a right to know if the products they buy for their babies contain hazardous chemicals linked to cancer and skin rashes. Other companies are making safe and gentle baby products without hazardous chemicals. Instead of playing defense, J&J should live up to its promises of purity and be the safest, most responsible company it can be.

Whether you bathe your little ones using Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, you grew up with “No More Tears” in the tub, you’re a medical professional, or you’re just outraged that there are carcinogens in shampoo, you can take a minute to tell J&J that safe products are important to you by sending a letter to Johnson & Johnson from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics Web site.

Learn more in the whole report: “No More Toxic Tub”. Be aware and be safe.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

Do you know which fruits and vegetables you should really try to get organically grown, and which are ok to eat when conventionally grown?

Check out the 5th edition of the classic Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides from the Environmental Working Group, now with the latest government data. This handy guide shows you the fruits and veggies with the most and least pesticides, so you know which to always buy organic and which are pretty clean even when conventionally grown.

See the list of all 47 fruits and vegetables analyzed to find out where your favorites rank. Find out what changed about bananas, carrots, and spinach (among others), and get a printable version of the wallet-sized guide.