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Most personal care products contain harmful ingredients

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 by: Melissa Makris
Tags: personal care products, chemicals, health news

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(NewsTarget) Many health-conscious consumers, who understand the value of organic food, might overlook the long list of chemicals found in personal care products. This is mainly because shoppers believe that the body care products they buy have been thoroughly tested for safety.

The truth is that the vast majority of personal care products on the market today have not been tested by any publicly accountable organization. The FDA loosely oversees the industry, but it allows individual companies to test their own products for safety. These companies are not even required to do any pre-market safety testing, even though they can use almost any ingredient they choose.

This total lack of regulation has led to companies using chemicals that have been linked to (or strongly suspected to cause) cancer, hormone imbalance, infertility, birth defects, learning disabilities, immune system toxicity, organ damage, asthma, skin irritations and other harmful effects.

Companies using such ingredients, like phthalates and parabens, state that they are safe because of the low levels used in their formulas. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), the U.S. cosmetic industry's self-policing safety panel, agrees. This panel has banned a total of only eight chemicals and placed restrictions on three others.

The CIR allows any ingredient to be used in cosmetic formulas unless it can be proven hazardous beyond a shadow of a doubt. By comparison, the European Union has much stricter consumer protection laws that focus on precautionary health measures. They believe that chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects simply do not belong in any body care product, no matter how little might be present. This philosophy has led the E.U. to ban 1,100 chemicals.

U.S. consumers can better protect themselves by only buying cosmetics with ingredients they recognize as safe, as well as products labeled with the USDA organic seal. Selecting products labeled "all natural" or "organic" provides no guarantee of safety, as these generic terms are not regulated in personal care items. Only the USDA seal guarantees that a product has gone through the same rigorous testing as organic foods.

It can be argued that using safe personal care products is even more important than eating organic food. This is because conventionally grown fruits and vegetables generally only have trace amounts of pesticide residues. Conventional body care products frequently contain many different hazardous chemicals that make up a significant part of their overall formula.


About the author

Melissa Makris is a researcher with a technical background in immunology. She is passionate about holistic and alternative methods of healing. Her website How to Boost Your Immune System shares information on how to improve immune system health using simple, natural methods.

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