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Harmful Chemicals to Avoid in Everyday Products

Did you know that there are toxic trespassers lurking in some of the products we use every day? Some of these chemicals are getting into our bodies and may be causing health problems. The following chemicals are of concern, particularly to women’s health.

 

Chemical

Where It’s Found

Potential Health Problems

Avoiding It

1,4-dioxane

No More Toxic Tub

Products that create suds, like

shampoo, soap, bubble bath, hair relaxers

Cancer, birth defects

Read labels to avoid chemicals that may signal the

presence of 1,4-dioxane, like sodium laureth sulfate,

PEG, “ceteareth”, and “oleth”.

2-butoxyethanol

Household Hazards

Glass cleaners, all-purpose spray cleaners

reduced fertility, low birth weight

Make your own non-toxic cleaners with WVE’s

recipes, or buy from the few companies that disclose

all ingredients on the label and look to avoid it.

Alkyl phenol ethoxylates

(APEs)

Household Hazards

Laundry detergents, stain removers, and all-purpose cleaners

reproductive harm

Make your own non-toxic cleaners with WVE’s

recipes, or buy from the few companies that disclose

all ingredients on the label and look to avoid it.

Ammonium quaternary

compounds

Disinfectant Overkill

Some disinfectant sprays, toilet

cleaners, alcohol-free hand sanitizers

occupational asthma, decreased fertility and birth defects

Reduce your use of disinfectant products; download

WVE’s Reduce Your Use of Disinfectants fact sheet

for ideas.

Bisphenol-A (BPA)

No Silver Lining

Plastics like baby bottles, sippy cups,

water bottles, and children's toys; can linings

breast cancer, early puberty, hormone disruption

Opt for fresh or frozen foods instead of canned, look

for plastics labeled “BPA-free” and never microwave plastic.

Formaldehyde Glossed Over

The Blowup on Blowouts

Some nail products, shampoos, body

washes, chemical hair straighteners

Cancer, skin and respiratory diseases.

Look for nail polishes and hardeners labeled “threefree”

or “formaldehyde-free” and avoid chemical hair straighteners.

Hydroquinone

Toxic Products Marketed to

Black Women

Skin lighteners

Cancer, immune system damage, reproductive/developmental harm

 

Avoid skin lighteners with hydroquinone listed on the label.

potential increased risk of breast cancer

Lead A Poison Kiss & Pretty Scary

 

Some lipsticks and other cosmetics,

sunscreens, whitening toothpastes,

children’s face paint

reproductive /developmental harm, nerve, joint, and muscle disorders, heart, bone, and kidney problems

Contact the company and ask if lead is a contaminant in the

product.

Monoethanolamine (MEA)

Household Hazards

Some laundry detergents, all-purpose

cleaners and floor cleaners

occupational asthma

Make your own cleaners with WVE’s recipes or buy from

the few companies that disclose all ingredients on the label

and look to avoid it.

PBDEs (Flame retardants) Flame Retardants in Baby Products

Polyurethane foam padding in furniture,

children’s products

reproductive /developmental harm thyroid hormone disruption

Avoid products containing polyurethane foam which

indicate “TB117 compliant” on the label.

Look for products stu‑ed with cotton, polyester or wool

instead of foam.

Phthalates

Glossed Over

What’s That Smell?

Not So Sexy

Fragrances in cleaning products,

personal care products, cosmetics & nail

polish

reduced fertility, increased risk of breast cancer, genital malformations in baby boys, increased allergic symptoms and asthma

in children

Avoid products with synthetic fragrance; look for fragrance

with essential oils or products labeled “fragrance-free.”

Look for nail polishes labeled “three-free” or “phthalatefree.”

Sodium laureth sulfate

No More Toxic Tub

Soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, and

products that create suds

Products containing these chemicals may

contain 1,4-dioxane

Read labels to avoid products containing sodium laureth

sulfate.

Synthetic musks: galaxolide

and tonalide

What’s That Smell?

Fragrances, such as in cleaning products

and personal care products

Hormone disruption, breakdown of the body’s defenses against

other toxic exposures, increased risk of breast cancer

Avoid products with synthetic fragrance; look for fragrance

with essential oils or products labeled “fragrance-free.”

Toluene Glossed Over

Nail salon products

headache, dizziness, fatigue, eyes, nose & throat irritation, reproductive/developmental harm

Look for nail polishes labeled “three-free” or “toluene-free.”

Triclosan- Disinfectant Overkill

Antibacterial hand & dish soaps, some

disinfectant products, tartar-control

toothpastes, fragrance

Hormone disruption, potential increased risk of breast cancer

Avoid antibacterial hand soap, and read labels to avoid

products containing triclosan as an active ingredient.

Reference: www.womensvoices.org

Look through our Personal Care category to find alternative products without these harmful chemicals.