Toxic Chemicals Found in Many Common Products
Feb. 25, 2005
Shelley Osterloh Reporting
There's a growing segment of the population who are shopping for natural, chemical-free products, out of concern that long term exposure to small traces of common chemicals, can be dangerous. The leader of an advocacy group says the problem is real and probably more dangerous than people think. These are products we all use every day to clean, wash, deodorize, and moisturize.
Just check out the ingredient list on any of the products and you'll see a whole slew of chemical substances for sudsing, softening, preserving, coloring, smell. Some of these active ingredients are known to be harmful, but manufacturers say they are there in very small trace amounts.
Linda Chae, Toxic Free Foundation: "The skin absorbs these toxins and poisons. And we rub them in every day. So if we just shampooed once, the trace amounts wouldn't be so bad, but the problem is we shampoo every day for how many years? We start as a baby."
Linda Chae is a researcher who lectures on what she believes are the harmful ingredients in common products. She says skin absorbs easily, doctors use transdermal patches to deliver medicine for pain, hormones, or motion sickness. She thinks we are poisoning ourselves with nice smelling products.
Linda Chae, Toxic Free Foundation: "If the word fragrance is listed, there’s probably up to 6,000 chemical synthetics including thalates, which are known to increase asthma, absolutely cause birth defects, and sterility in young men, and weight gain."
Chae has a list of chemicals to look out for and avoid. Among them is "propylene glycol, found in most deodorants.
Linda Chae, Toxic Free Foundation: "Propylene glycol is the strong enough or dissolve the barnacles off a boat. Thats pretty hard substance, the skin under our arm is pretty delicate."
Those same chemicals, called PEGS, are used in toothpaste for adults and children, and are said to cause brain, liver and kidney damage in high doses.
Chae says there are many ingredients that contain a dangerous by-product called Dioxin, which is linked to a long list of health problems, also in high doses. There is little government research on their effects as a result of small, but frequent exposure. Things like "Tryclosan," the ingredient that makes anti-bacterial soaps effective, is also a commonly used bactericide or pesticide. And don’t forget "Sodium laureate sulfate."
Linda Chae, Toxic Free Foundation: "In baby care products that is supposed to make it nice and mild, that’s sodium lareth sulfate, when in fact the government in 1994 found that it contained dioxin and dioxins are carcinogenic and hormone disruptive. "
The amounts of these ingredients are usually not listed on labels, and Chae says nearly all products contain what she calls dangerous ingredients, including those that say they are natural. So she and others have formed a non-profit group of researchers and scientists, which will independently test and certify if products are what they called Toxic free.
Other researchers disagree with Chae, saying that many of these chemicals are in small amounts and do not accumulate because the body breaks them down, detoxifies and eliminates them.