Teenage Girls Exposed to Hormone Altering Chemicals During Critical Development of Reproductive System
A new study on teenagers and toxic chemicals was released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), and it has some very disturbing implications. Laboratory tests revealed that adolescent girls across America are contaminated with chemicals commonly used in cosmetics and body care products. The study of 20 teens found an average of 13 different hormone-altering chemicals in their bodies.
The laboratory tests found 16 chemicals from 4 different chemical families – phthalates, triclosan, parabens, and musks – in the blood and urine samples of the girls. Studies have linked these chemicals to potential health effects, including cancer and hormone disruption. This work represents the first focused look at exposure data for parabens in teens, and indicates that young women are widely exposed to this common class of cosmetic preservatives, with methylparaben and propylparaben detected in every single girl tested.
Every single girl tested had detectable levels of toxic cosmetics chemicals in their blood or urine!
How is this possible?
- Federal statutes do not require companies to test products or ingredients for safety before they are sold. Nearly all personal care products contain ingredients that have not been assessed for safety by an accountable agency, and are not required to meet safety standards. Manufacturers can use almost any chemical they want in their products!
- Adolescent girls typically experiment with increasing numbers and varieties of body care products. The girls studied used an average of 17 personal care products each day, while the average adult woman uses an average of only 12 products daily, increasing their exposure to these chemicals.
- The Toxic Substances Control Act, which regulates all industrial chemicals in the United States, was created over 30 years ago, and it assumes chemicals in everyday products are innocent until proven guilty. The products we use every day can contain thousands of ingredients that have never been tested for safety.
- The personal care products industry polices itself through an industry panel called the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR). This is an industry-funded panel of scientists that has reviewed only 11% of all ingredients in cosmetics. An investigation found that the panel ignores serious health concerns such as cancer, birth defects, and hormone disruption, and finds more than 99% of ingredients reviewed safe as used. Companies are not bound by the panel’s restrictions or recommendations, so compliance is entirely voluntary.
“Hormone-altering chemicals shouldn’t be in cosmetics, especially in products used by millions of teenage girls. Their bodies are still developing and may be especially vulnerable to risks from these exposures. Most parents don’t know that the eyeliner, lipstick or shampoo they allow their daughters to use probably contains at least one chemical linked to a number of serious health concerns. Teenage girls are at a particularly vulnerable age and these exposures could trigger a subtle sequence of damaging effects that leads to health problems later in life.” – Rebecca Sutton, Ph.D, author of the report and Staff Scientist at EWG
The Environmental Working Group has put together a shoppers guide to safer cosmetics to print out and take shopping with you, and a searchable cosmetics safety database to help guide purchasing of clean personal care and cosmetics products.
EWG’s safer shopping tips:
- Use fewer, simpler products
- Don’t trust claims like “dermatologist-tested,” “natural,” or “organic.” Read the ingredient label instead
- Take label warnings seriously. They indicate hazardous chemicals.
Related posts about Environmental Working Group:
- New Study Finds High Levels of Toxic Fire Retardants in Children’s Blood
- News Round Up: Chemicals in Everyday Products (Triclosan, Sunscreens, and Greener Hospitals)
- 1000 Sunscreens Ranked – Check Yours. It May Be Hazardous to Your Health
- Canned Food and BPA
Image: frida27ponce on Flickr under Creative Commons License