Harmful chemicals in personal care products and legally not on the label

Posted on 18 July 2011 in Blog by L. Schneider
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Most harmful chemicals in personal care products can be identified by reading the label on the pack. But what we don’t realise is that these products may also contain a range of harmful chemicals that are not listed.

These are typically compounds that occur in the product as a result of a reaction between two or more chemicals in the manufacturing process. Often referred to as an ‘impurity’, a discerning consumer might be better placed to call them carcinogenic, contaminating and toxic.

One example of this is 1,4-dioxane. You won’t find it listed on the label but it is often found as a contaminant in products that also contain ingredients or partial ingredient names including PEG, polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, polyoxyethylene, -eth- (such as sodium laureth sulfate), oxynol, ceteareth or oleth.

1,4-Dioxane is banned in several countries but the chances of it being in a typical personal care item you’ve used today is significant. Exposure to 1,4-dioxane is even more of a concern when we consider how many times per day an adult or child might be exposed to it: shampoo, conditioner, bath wash and so on. Look for its known cohorts (as above) on labels and avoid it whenever you can.

More information on 1,4-Dioxane

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Lindy Schneider is a writer and researcher with a keen interest in health, wellbeing and natural childcare. She is an advocator of a chemical-free lifestyle in the best interests of her family, the community and a sustainable world. She lives in the Yarra Valley with her partner and two young children.

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