Health

Health

There are numerous chemicals we use to support our lifestyle that make their way into our body:

  1. Toxins / pollutants found in the body
  2. Plastic baby bottles
  3. Teflon cookware and scothgard anti-stain carpets
  4. Cosmetics

CBC Documentary: Doc Zone - The Disappearing Male (Part-1) (Part-2) (Part-3) (Part-4) (Part-5)

Toxins/Pollutants Found in the Body

  • In 11 volunteers investigated by the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), laboratory tests detected 60 of the 80 chemicals tested, including 18 heavy metals, 5 polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), 14 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), 1 perfluorinated chemical, 10 organochlorine pesticides, 5 organophosphate insecticide metabolites and 7 volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
  • On average, 44 chemicals were detected in each volunteer, including 41 carcinogens, 27 hormone disruptors, 21 respiratory toxins and 53 reproductive/developmental toxins.


Plastic baby bottles - Bisphenol A (BPA)

  • Bisphenol A (BPA), a petrochemical derivative, is used in polycarbonate baby bottles and the epoxy linings of cans and can leach into their contents
  • BPA can mimic estrogen it can lead to sex hormone imbalances, such as prostate and breast cancer
  • BPA is linked to obesity, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, brain damage, immune suppression, lower sperm counts and early puberty


Teflon cookware and Scothgard anti-stain carpets - Perfluorochemcials

  • Substances known as perfluorochemcials are used in Teflon and Scothgard
  • Two perfluorochemcials of particular concern are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanyl sulfonate (PFOS)
  • High levels of PFOS have been detected in animals like polar bears, which have been found at amounts exceeding 4,000 parts per billion in their livers
  • PFOS and PFOA have been found to have an extreme affinity to stick to living things
  • PFOA has been found in nearly all umbilical cord blood samples


Cosmetics

The Ottawa Citizen Sat 16 Apr 2005

Face Facts: What you need to know about chemicals you use every day

SERIES NAME What Price Beauty?

Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Where they're found

In hundreds of products, ranging from anti-aging creams, skin moisturizers, acne and eye treatments and even lip balms. Also known as glycolic acid, fruit acids, lactic acid.

Purpose: Strips upper layer of skin to expose new skin.

Research indicates

Increases sun sensitivity leading to sunburn and sun damage. U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said it has "serious safety questions" about the chemicals.

Status

The European Union says it can only be sold in concentrations of four per cent. In Canada and the U.S., can be sold in concentrations up to 10 per cent. Health Canada hot list requires a label on products warning that sunscreens must be used but almost no manufacturer obeys this rule. Health Canada says it is not aware of the violations.

 

Carrageenan

Where it's found

Toothpaste, mouthwash, some facial moisturizers, conditioners, lip balm.

Purpose

A stabilizer, binding agent and emulsifier said to nourish the skin.

Research indicates

Possible human carcinogen, based on limited data.

Status

Not yet assessed for safety by the U.S. cosmetics industry's Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel (CIR). Health Canada says dermal application is not a concern.

 

Coal Tar

Where it's found: Dandruff and psoriasis shampoos.

Purpose

Softens and promotes the dissolution of hard, scaly, rough skin. This is actual coal tar, which is different from the coal tar derivatives used as hair dyes.

Research indicates

International Agency for Research on Cancer says there is sufficient evidence that coal tars are carcinogenic in humans.

Status

The EU banned coal tar from cosmetics in 2004. It's considered a drug in Canada; but is contained in therapeutic shampoos. Will be included on the next Health Canada "hot list" of restricted chemicals in mid-2005. Following settlement of a lawsuit in California that pitted the state against coal-tar product manufacturers, most companies that make coal-tar products will place the following statement on their products: "Warning: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer."

 

Formaldehyde

Where it's found

Deodorants, nail polish and hardeners, soap, shampoo, shaving cream.

Purpose

Disinfectant, germicide, fungicide, defoamer and preservative.

Also known as: formalin, formal, methyl aldehyde.

Research indicates

Suspected human carcinogen. Neurotoxic. May trigger asthma. Irritant to eyes, upper respiratory tract and mucous membranes. People can become sensitized after repeated exposure. Can damage DNA.

Status

FDA allows its use in limited concentrations. Banned by the EU for use in cosmetics. In Canada, formaldehyde is on Health Canada's hot list, permitted in limited concentrations and with restrictions in non-aerosol cosmetics and nail hardeners.

 

Hydroquinone

Where it's found: Skin-bleaching creams.

Purpose: Skin lightener.

Research indicates

Effective only when used long term, but safe only when used briefly and discontinuously in products rinsed off thoroughly after use. Limited data suggests it may cause cancer in humans. Can cause an allergic response that can include itching, burning, scaling, hives and blistering.

Status

Banned in the EU, unless proven safe. Sold in one-per-cent to two-per-cent concentrations as a cosmetic in the U.S. On the Health Canada cosmetic hot list but can be sold as an over-the-counter drug in creams.

 

Lead Acetate

Where it's found: Progressive hair dyes.

Purpose: Used primarily by men to gradually dye grey hair.

Research indicates

Suspected to damage the reproductive system in humans. Also a suspected human carcinogen, based on studies of human populations or laboratory animals. State of California says it causes cancer. Disposal or excretion of chemicals poses potential risks to wildlife and the environment.

Status

Banned from cosmetics in the EU, unless a risk assessment shows it is safe. CIR has yet to assess for safety. The Health Canada hot list restricts the amount that can be used in hair dyes and companies must warn consumers not to use it around the eyes.

 

Nitrosamines

Where they're found

Estimated to be found in half of all cosmetic products in the U.S. Formed when amines -- diethanolamine (DEA), triethanolamine (TEA) and monoethanolamine (MEA) -- combine with a formaldehyde-releasing preservative (Quaternium-15, for example).

Purpose: None. An impurity formed during manufacturing.

Research indicates

A study in 2000 found it is readily absorbed through the skin and accumulates in organs where it induces chronic toxic effects. The International Agency for Research on Cancer found that nitrosamines are carcinogenic in all animal species studied, including primates. One U.K. government study found that nitrosamine levels in some products more than doubled four months after the product was opened, and increased by more than four-fold over 17 months.

Status

Once found in very high levels in cosmetics, but dramatically reduced in response to enforcement efforts in Europe, the U.S. and Canada. The FDA has urged cosmetic manufacturers to voluntarily remove any ingredient that may combine to form nitrosamines. Health Canada recently put them on hot list as banned ingredients; however the government doesn't perform spot checks to see if they have been removed.

 

Parabens

Where they're found

Skin and hair products, makeup, baby-care lines, deodorants, bath washes, nail polish. Also known as: Butyl/methyl/ethyl/proply/isobutyl paraben.

Purpose: Most widely used preservatives in cosmetics.

Research indicates

Parabens mimic estrogen and can penetrate the skin. Effect of daily and multiple low-level exposures is not known. EWG scientists say parabens "may alter hormone levels, possibly increasing risks for certain types of cancer, impaired fertility, or alteration of the development of a fetus or young child."

Status

CIR has yet to assess for safety. The FDA is conducting its own research. Health Canada is closely monitoring scientific data.

 

Petrolatum (Petroleum Jelly)

Where it's found

In one of every 14 personal-care products, according to the EWG, including 15 per cent of all lipstick and 40 per cent of all baby lotions and oils.

Purpose: A petrochemical that forms a barrier on the skin.

Research indicates

Impurities created during the manufacturing process of some petrolatum are linked to breast cancer: Benzo-A-Pyrene and Benzo-B-Fluroanthene. PAHs, or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, are also common contaminants.

Status

Banned from cosmetics in the EU unless manufacturer proves safety. In the U.S., the National Toxicology Program finds that some PAHs are reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens. The State of California lists a number of PAHs as carcinogens. The FDA restricts the level of petrolatum in food packaging and drugs but does not police its use in personal-care products, many of which are applied directly to the lips and inadvertently swallowed. Health Canada says the onus is on the company to ensure its product is free of impurities.

 

Phenol

Where it's found: Medicated lip moisturizers.

Purpose: Disinfectant.

Research indicates

Limited data suggests it causes cancer in humans. Fatal poisonings have occurred when large quantities absorbed through skin.

Status

The EU has ruled this ingredient "toxic in contact with skin and if swallowed." Not yet assessed for safety by the CIR panel. Health Canada says it will be reviewing its use in cosmetics.

 

Phenylenediamine

Where it's found: Permanent hair dyes frequently used by women.

Purpose: A dark dye that has been derived from coal tars.

Research indicates

A probable human carcinogen. Highly allergenic, it can cause eczema, bronchial asthma, gastritis, skin irritation and even death.

Status

Since 1938 it has been exempt from FDA bans. The FDA unsuccessfully proposed that products containing the   ingredient carry the following label

"Warning: Contains an ingredient that can penetrate your skin and has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals." Manufacturers must warn users that the product can cause skin irritation in certain allergic individuals and that using it to dye lashes or brows could cause blindness. The Safe Shopper's Bible says to avoid any product carrying such a disclaimer since it may contain carcinogenic dyes. Health Canada hot list says it's not permitted in products intended for use on skin and product must contain warning to do a patch test. No allergy warning necessary.

 

Phthalates

Where they're found: Hair sprays, nail polishes and fragrances.

Purpose

The chemicals are used to prevent nail polish from chipping, to extend the life of perfumes and to enhance the penetration of skin lotions.

Research indicates

Suspected estrogen mimic. Known to cause serious reproductive and developmental effects in lab animals. One phthalate, DEHP, has been linked to premature breast development in girls. Growing evidence suggests they contribute to allergic disease, including asthma.

Status

In 2002, the CIR panel found DBP, the most common phthalate in cosmetics, safe when used at restricted concentrations. In July of that year, the FDA noted that "lack of evidence can hardly be used as evidence of safety." Health Canada says it's monitoring phthalates closely and reviewing data.

 

Resorcinol

Where it's found

Hair dyes, dandruff shampoos and some acne and rash creams.

Purpose

Helps remove hard, scaly, rough skin. Used as a coupling agent in dyes. Has antiseptic properties.

Research indicates

Limited data suggests possible link to cancer in humans. Can cause methemoglobinemia, a blood disease, if it enters a wound. Irritating to the eyes. A suspected endocrine disruptor. Toxic to marine life.

Status

CIR has yet to assess for safety. Health Canada reports that it is "not a concern at this point because of protective oils on the scalp."

 

Silica (Crystalline)

Where it's found

Hundreds of products, including eye makeup, foundation, lip makeup, powder, blush, toothpaste, mascara, hair dye, shampoo.

Purpose

Anti-caking agent, thickener, suspending agent and non-surfactant.

Research indicates

Some silica used in cosmetics may be contaminated with crystalline quartz, which is carcinogenic. Linked to cancer when inhaled, a concern for those using powder and loose blush. The Safe Shopper's Bible assigns products containing silica a minimal risk rating. An eye, skin and lung irritant.

Status

Not yet assessed for safety by CIR. Classified in 2004 as a known human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Health Canada says it is not a concern at the present time as the likelihood of inhalation is very low.

 

Synthetic Fragrance

Where they're found

The most common ingredient in personal-care products. The word "fragrance" can indicate any one of 4,000 separate ingredients, most or all of them synthetic and derived from petroleum. A typical fragrance can contain hundreds of chemicals, which the cosmetics industry says are too many to be easily listed.

Purpose: Adds scent.

Research indicates

Symptoms reported to the FDA include skin irritation, headaches, dizziness, rashes, skin discolouration, violent coughing and vomiting. Known to trigger asthma. Phthalates are a common ingredient in fragrance.

Status

Very few of the synthetic ingredients have been tested for safety. The Safe Shopper's Bible says that since there's no way to know if a brand contains carcinogens, the wise consumer will stay clear of them all. In 1989, the U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health evaluated 2,983 fragrance chemicals for health effects and determined 884 were toxic. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that 100 per cent of perfumes contain toluene, which can cause liver, kidney and brain damage, as well as damage to a developing fetus. Health Canada is reviewing synthetic fragrance and is likely to add a few to the next round of additions to the hot list in mid-2005.

Talc

Where it's found

Hundreds of products including baby powder, face powder, blush, foundation.

Purpose: A dusting or drying powder.

Research indicates

A 1993 report by the National Toxicology Program in the U.S. found that cosmetic-grade talc caused tumours in animal subjects. Limited data suggests it causes cancer in humans. The Safe Shopper's Bible says that prolonged use of powder in the genital area is associated with increased use for ovarian cancer, although a meta-analysis of existing studies disputes this link.

Status

In 1973, the FDA drafted a resolution that would limit the amount of asbestos-like fibres in cosmetic-grade talc, however it remains unregulated in the U.S. The CIR panel has yet to assess talc. Health Canada says it is currently reviewing available data.

Sources

FDA. International Association for Research on Cancer. Health Canada. Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Report. The European Union Cosmetics Directive. Paula Begoun, www.cosmeticscop.com. The Safe Shopper's Bible by Samuel Epstein and David Steinman. Beauty to Die For by Judi Vance. Drop-Dead Gorgeous by Kim Erickson. The Less Toxic Guide by the Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia.



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