Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sexy For Her . . . For baby, it could really be poison

Toxic chemicals linked to birth defects are being found at alarming levels in women of childbearing age.

And according to new laboratory tests (see chart at right), these same chemicals are being added to popular cosmetics and beauty aids, from Poison perfume to Arrid Extra Extra Dry deodorant.

Manufacturers use these chemicals, known as phthalates (tha-lates), to add flexibility and help dissolve other ingredients. They're also used in industrial adhesives, and in medical and consumer goods made with polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC).

But phthalates have been shown to damage the lungs, liver and kidneys, and to harm the developing testes of offspring.

These results come from animal tests which, according to government scientists, are relevant to predicting health impacts in humans.

Despite this, the Food and Drug Administration doesn't regulate phthalates in cosmetics. In most cases, phthalates aren't even listed on the label.

The FDA must act now. All cosmetics - as well as food-related and medical products containing phthalates - must be labeled. And manufacturers should publicly pledge to voluntarily remove phthalates as quickly as possible.

Phthalate-free alternatives are available in every product category. And some companies have already announced phase-out policies.

In the meantime, we believe that every consumer - indeed, anyone who cares about the health of future generations - should demand action from companies and the FDA. Learn more at

After all, Eternity is a long time.

The New York Times advertisement by CHE Partner David Fenton showed a young woman sniffing a bottle of perfume. "Sexy for her," said the text. "For baby, it could really be poison." In July, CHE Organizational Partners Health Care Without Harm and the Environmental Working Group, along with a national network that includes many CHE Partners concerned with chemicals as a risk factor for health called Coming Clean, released "Not Too Pretty," a groundbreaking report that describes the harmful effects of aggregate exposure to chemicals called phthalates that can damage the lungs, liver and kidneys, and can harm developing testes during fetal development. The report tested popular fragrances, hair sprays and deodorants purchased from four drug stores. The report was announced with a full-page ad in the New York Times that listed specific products that contained these toxins. Go to for a full report.

What Are You Wearing?

Off-the-shelf samples of hair products, body lotions, deodorants and fragrances, including those listed below, were analyzed by an independent testing lab for the presence of phthalates. Four were found: BBP, DBP, DEP and DEHP. The phthalate content of listed nail polishes comes from manufacturers' information and ingredients listings on labels.

Products listed below as "phthalate free" contained no detectable trace of the four compounds. Products listed as "contain phthalates" contained one of the four, while those noted with an asterisk contained more than one.

Total phthalate exposure comes from repeated small individual doses from cosmetics and a wide range of products containing PVC plastics, including shower curtains and window shades; some plastic food packaging; and medical devices such as IV fluid and blood bags. Other sources of phthalate exposure include paints, pesticides and printing inks.

Hair Sprays
Contain Phthalates
Aqua Net Professional Hair Spray* LA Looks Styling Gel: Extra Super Hold Suave Naturals Ocean Breeze Extra Control Spray Gel TRESemme European Freeze-Hold Hair Spray* VO5 Crystal Clear 14 Hour Hold
Phthalate Free Aussie Mega Styling Spray Finesse Touchables Silk Protein Enriched Mousse Helene Curtis Thermasilk Heat Activated Firm Hairspray L'Oreal Paris Studio Line: Springing Curls Mousse Suave Naturals Aloe Vera Extra Hold Hairspray

Contain Phthalates
Arrid Extra Extra Dry Ultra Clear Ultra Fresh Spray* Ban Delicate Powder Roll-On Degree Original Solid Anti-Perspirant & Deodorant Secret Sheer Dry Regular* Sure Clear Dry Anti-Perspirant & Deodorant
Phthalate Free Certain Dri Anti-Perspirant Roll-On Dove Powder Anti-Perspirant Deodorant Lady Speed Stick Soft Solid Anti-Perspirant Secret Anti-Perspirant & Deodorant Platinum Protection Ambition Scent Soft & Dri Anti-Perspirant Deodorant Clear Gel

Body Lotions
Contain Phthalates
Jergens Skincare Original Scent Lotion Nivea Cr´eme
Phthalate Free Lubriderm Skin Therapy Moisturizing Lotion Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Healing

Contain Phthalates
Calgon Hawaiian Ginger Body Mist Charlie Cologne Spray Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds Escape by Calvin Klein Eternity by Calvin Klein Fire & Ice* Freedom Lancome Paris Tresor Oscar* Poison by Christian Dior* The Healing Garden Pure Joy Body Treatment* Wind Song Perfume by Prince Matchabelli

Nail Polishes
Contain Phthalates
Christian Dior Nail Enamel Cover Girl Nail Slicks Express Finish Nutra Nail OPI Sally Hansen Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Wet'n'Wild
Phthalate Free Jet Set Revlon Nail Enamel Super Top Speed Urban Decay

*Contain multiple phthalates

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