WELLNESS Information and Resources

The issues of toxic ingredients in personal care products are vast and complex. This page contains some of the best sources we have found, including authors, organizations, and online resources. We encourage you to conduct your own research.

AVA ANDERSON NON TOXIC IS PROUD TO SUPPORT UNACCEPTABLE LEVELS

Unacceptable Levels is a social documentary examining the results of the chemical revolution of the 1940s and the impact it will have on our future through the eyes of filmmaker and father, Ed Brown.The film, made in consultation with experts in many fields, raises the question of whether we can prevent disease, caused by the constant exposure of chemicals, before it strikes us. The film challenges each of us, our companies, our government, and our society to take action and do something about these unseen threats knowing that small changes can generate a massive impact.

Ava Anderson Non Toxic is proud to support this film and partner to encourage its rental- the message is that important. Find out more at unacceptablelevels.com and order the film today. Twenty percent of all proceeds from purchases through the Ava Anderson Non Toxic site (below) will be donated to the Healthy Child Healthy World Organization.

*Ava Anderson Non Toxic does not benefit monetarily in any way by supporting this film.

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Unacceptable Levels

Unacceptable Levels examines the results of the chemical revolution of the 1940s through the eyes of affable filmmaker Ed Brown, a father seeking to understand the world in which he and his wife are raising their children. To create this debut documentary, one man and his camera traveled extensively to find and interview top minds in the fields of science, advocacy, and law. Weaving their testimonies into a compelling narrative, Brown presents us with the story of how the chemical revolution brought us to where we are, and of where, if we’re not vigilant, it may take us.

“For years scientists have struggled to explain the rising rates of some cancers and childhood brain disorders. Something about modern living has driven a steady rise in certain maladies, from breast and prostate cancer to autism and learning disabilities. One suspect is now drawing intense scrutiny: the prevalence in the environment of certain industrial chemicals at extremely low levels. A growing body of animal research suggests to some scientists that even minute traces of some chemicals, always assumed to be biologically insignificant, can affect such process and gene activation and brain development of newborns.”

— Wall Street Journal, Peter Waldman, “Common Industrial Chemicals in Tiny Doses Raise Health Issue”

The Body Burden — Europe prohibits 1,342 toxic chemicals in personal care products, the US prohibits only 9

“Thank you, Stacy Malkan, I owe an enormous debt to your work, as well as that of many other safe cosmetics pioneers.I appreciate you allowing me to share these powerful excerpts below from your book. I have learned so much about the dangers of chemicals in my products from you and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which you co-founded. When true change comes, it will be because of your efforts.” — Ava

THIS ISSUE CONCERNS EVERYONE

“Even if you never marked an eyelash with mascara… even if you are a Whole Foods shopping, careful consumer of all things “natural”… even if you are a man… this is your story… READ MORE

… It’s your story and mine because all of us today share something unshared by countless generations of humans who lived before us: we carry man-made pollutants in our bodies. We inhale these toxicants from the air, drink them in our water, eat them in our food, spray them around our homes, and rub them on our bodies. So it makes sense they’d also be in us. But only recently, with a scientific technique known as bio-monitoring, have scientists been able to measure the actual levels of some synthetic chemicals that are getting into people — our so called chemical body burden. For several years the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been researching the body burden of thousands of average Americans. Government and independent researchers have studied human blood, urine and breast milk form all regions of the world. The studies reveal that every single one of us is contaminated with scores of synthetic chemicals that are known to be toxic.”

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SELF-POLICING OF COSMETICS INDUSTRY

“Most people in the US believe the government makes sure personal care products are safe. However, this is not the case… READ MORE

…Unfortunately the FDA has little authority and few resources to oversee cosmetics safety. The US Food and Drug Administration does not have the authority to require companies to safety test personal care products before they go on the market and cannot even recall defective or possibly harmful cosmetics. Instead, the industry gets to “police itself” through a group called the Cosmetic Industry Review (CIR) panel. The CIR panel is funded by the cosmetics industry through its trade association, the Cosmetics, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association.”

“It may be impossible to live in a lead free world, but is really impossible to keep lead out of lipstick? Aren’t these the same companies with the glossy ads promising products that can bring balance, health and vitality to our lives? Shouldn’t they be at the front of the line offering to reduce their contributions to the toxic world? On the contrary, the world’s richest cosmetics companies take the position that small amounts of hazardous chemicals are safe to use in cosmetics. The cosmetic industry’s chief spokesperson, Dr. John Bailey, told the New York Times that the chemicals being singled out by the environmental groups are present in such small amounts in personal care products that they pose no threat to human health. He compared them to salt in cooking. “A little salt on your peas or tomatoes can be good.” Dr Bailey said. “But a lot of salt can have adverse health effects on your blood pressure, and too much can be fatal.”

Unfortunately, mixtures of chemicals with various toxic properties become more complicated than salt. A little bit of hormone—disrupting chemicals mixed with carcinogenic contaminants in the baby shampoo, the bubble bath, and the body wash add up — day in and day out. The cosmetics companies insist their products are safe, but what do those claims really mean? They typically mean the products has been tested to ensure it doesn’t cause short term obvious health effects, such as rashes, swelling and eye irritation. Most chemicals in cosmetics have not been tested for their potential to cause long-term health problems such as cancer or reproductive harm. The USDA has little authority to ensure the safety of cosmetics or to remove unsafe products from the market. The way the system works in the US is that the cosmetics company gets to decide for themselves what’s safe.”

Skin Deep (www.cosmeticsdatabase.com) findings in 2005:

  • 1/3 of personal care products contain at least one ingredient linked to cancer
  • 45% contain an ingredient that may be harmful to the reproductive system or to a baby’s development.
  • 60% of products contain chemicals that can act like estrogen or disrupt hormones in the body
  • 56% of products contain “penetration enhancer” chemicals, which help other chemicals penetrate faster and deeper into the body.

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HIDDEN PHTHALATES AND THE DE-MASCULINIZATION OF MALES

“Phthalates” is not the most convenient word to work with — weird to spell and hard to figure out how to pronounce (THA-lates)… READ MORE

… But the chemicals have an important story to tell about the science and politics of chemicals. You may be surprised to learn you are already intimately familiar with phthalates: think of the potent aroma of a vinyl shower curtain, or “new car smell.” Produced in the amount of one billion tons per year worldwide, phthalates are used to soften vinyl plastic and hold scent and color in a variety of consumer products. More than two decades ago scientists began building a body of evidence that phthalates can be powerful reproductive and developmental toxicants in laboratory animals, particularly for males exposed in the womb. For more on phtthalates read Body Burden: Phthalates

“For 25 years we’ve known that phthalates disrupt the production of testosterone critical for the masculinization of the male species,” said Earl Gray, a top phthalate researcher at the US Environmental Protection Agency. Hundreds of animal studies show that phthalates like dibutyl phthalate (DBP) can block male hormones called androgens, which are responsible for making a male into a male. The result of this anti-androgen effect is what scientists call the “de-masculinization” of male offspring: low sperm counts, testicular atrophy, undescended testicles and birth defects on the underside of the penis such as hypospadias, where the opening of the urethra occurs on the underside of the penis instead of the tip. The spectrum of health effects is so common in lab animals exposed to phthalates that scientists have come to call it “phthalate syndrome.”

In 2005, Shanna Swan, PhD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, at the University of Rochester, measured the levels of phthalates in the bodies of pregnant women, then studied their male infants after birth. The study found a “significant relationship” between the level of phthalates and changes in genitals of their baby boys. The pregnant women with the highest phthalate levels- equivalent to the levels currently found in a quarter of US women — were more likely to have baby sons with smaller penises and incompletely descended testicles. The boys were also most likely to have a shorter distance from their anus to their penis (called anogenital distance, or AGD), which is an indicator of masculinity.

In addition to Swan’s study, other human studies on phthalates had started to emerge. Harvard School of Public Health researchers, Dr. Russ Hauser and Susan Duty studied men in an infertility clinic and found that men who had higher levels of DBP in their bodies had lower sperm quality and lower sperm mobility. In a separate study, of 379 men from an infertility clinic, the Harvard researchers correlate diethyl phthalate (DEP) with DNA damage in men’s sperm, a condition that can lead to infertility or miscarriage. DEP is the phthalate used most widely in cosmetics. The chemical appears to be getting into people’s bodies from the products, according to another study conducted by Dr. Hauser’s team. Men who used cologne or aftershave within 48 hours before urine collection had more than twice the levels of DEP in their bodies as men who did not use cologne or aftershave, the study found. For each additional personal care product used, the DEP metabolite in their bodies increased by 38%.”

“Women’s Environmental Network in the UK and Health Care Without Harm Europe bought beauty products from stores in Britain and Sweden and sent them to a lab to test for phthalates. The European results were similar to the American: 79% of products contained phthalates, and more than half contained multiple phthalates. The story got more attention than anyone could remember.

As in the US, the European environmental groups could test only a small number of products (at $175 per product), leaving an open question as to which of the thousands of other products on store shelves contained phthalates. As in the US, it was legal for companies to put unlimited amounts of phthalates and other toxic chemicals into cosmetic products.

But, in Europe that was about to change. The EU was getting ready to pass a new amendment to the Cosmetics Directive that would ban animal testing, and ban chemicals that were known or highly suspected of causing cancer, birth defects or genetic mutation from use in cosmetics. Two phthalates, DHEP and DBP were put on the prohibited list, along with hundreds of other chemicals. The phthalates were classified as a Class 2 reproductive toxicant in the EU, meaning that they were highly suspected of causing reproductive damage.”

No such legislation exists in the US. Europe prohibits 1,110 chemicals, the US, just 9.

Manufacturers can legally hide up to 600 ingredients in the word FRAGRANCE.

“Major loopholes in federal law allow the $20 billion dollar-a-year cosmetics industry to put unlimited amounts of phthalates into many of personal care products with no required testing, no required monitoring of health effects, and no required labeling.”

“According to Skin Deep, (cosmeticsdatabase.com) up to 80% of products may contain one or more hidden hazards that are not even listed on the product labels.”

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DANGERS OF SODIUM LAUREL SULFATE AND DIOXANE 1,4

“David Steinman, explained in his book, Safe Trip to Eden,… this process– called ethoxylation — creates 1,4 dioxane, a known animal and probable human carcinogen according to the EPA… READ MORE

“David Steinman, explained in his book, Safe Trip to Eden, that companies replaced the harsh cleanser, sodium lauryl sufate with the much gentler sodium laureth sulfate. Laurel is converted to laureth by adding the petrochemical ethylene oxide. But this process– called ethoxylation — creates the petroleum-derived contaminant 1,4 dioxane, a known animal and probable human carcinogen according to the EPA.

In 2002 David started buying personal care products that contain ethoxylated ingredients and sending them to a lab to test for 1,4 dioxane. The lab found the cancer-causing chemical in 18 of two dozen products tested, including 15 popular brand baby shampoos and bath products. The contaminant was not listed on any of the labels.

The manufacturers claim the levels are too low to cause harm. However, low levels of exposure can add up. The same infant exposed to 1,4-dioxane from a baby shampoo could also be exposed to the carcinogen from the bubble bath and the body wash in a single bath — as well as from food, water and other household products in the same day. “It’s these multiple exposure to carcinogens that are cause for concern, especially for developing children,” said Janet Nudelman from the Breast Cancer Fund. We have to ask, is it necessary for baby shampoos to contain cancer-causing chemicals at all? The answer is no.”

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BREAST CANCER

“The increase in breast cancer also parallels the proliferation of man-made chemicals since World War II.… READ MORE

… Many of these chemicals persist in the environment, accumulate in body fat and can remain in breast tissue for decades. Some have been shown to induce mammary tumors in animals, while others disrupt the delicate hormonal balance in the body. Compelling scientific evidence points to some of the 100,000 synthetic chemicals in use today as contributing to the development of breast cancer, either by altering hormone function or gene expression,” according to the Sate of Evidence 2006: What is the Connection between the environment and Breast Cancer? a report that summarizes more than 350 studies on the environmental links to breast cancer.

Among chemicals of concern, suspicion focuses on substances that act like estrogen in the body. There is broad agreement in the scientific community that higher exposure to estrogens over a woman’s lifetime leads to a higher risk of developing breast cancer. For example, girls who menstruate before age 12, are 50% more likely to develop breast cancer that girls who menstruate after age 16, in part because of the increased lifetime exposure to estrogen. Early breast development is also clearly associated with an increase in breast cancer risk. Both these phenomena — earlier onset monarchy and earlier breast development — are occurring with disturbing regularity in US girls, and even more dramatically in African-American girls, according to a 2007 report by biologist Sandra Steinbgraber, PhD, distinguished visiting scholar at Ithaca College, in New York. Several factors may hasten the onset of puberty in girls, including low birth weight and premature birth, obesity and environmental exposure to endrocine disrupting chemicals, Dr. Steingraber reported.”

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DANGER - NANOPARTICLES, DRIVING TOXINS DEEPER, FASTER

“The FDA must act quickly to avoid past regulation failures such as asbestos, DDT and PCB’s. More environmental health studies are urgently needed… READ MORE

… “The gold rush for nanotechnology patents continues, with more than 4,000 US patents issued to date. More than $32 billion were sold in 2005, twice the amount as in 2004. There are now more than 200 self-identified nano-particles on US shelves, including paint, sporting goods, sunscreen, cosmetics, stain resistant clothing, cell phones and digital cameras. The personal care industry is leading the way as the largest single category. The FDA treats nano-material no differently than bulk material ingredients. The agency believes the existing battery of toxicity tests is adequate for most nanotechnology products. Particle size is not the issue according to the agency. This view is out of step with the entire scientific community. Size matters at nano-scale. Nano is best understood to mean “fundamentally different.” George Kimbrell, a lawyer with the International Center for Technology Assessment, feels strongly that the FDA must act quickly to avoid past regulation failures such as asbestos, DDT and PCB’s. More environmental health studies are urgently needed. Only 4% of the $9 billion dedicated to nanotechnology research in 2006 went to environmental and health research. “What we are left with are early studies that raise warning flags and no follow-up,” Kimbrell said.

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HOW CAN THIS HAPPEN?

“It may be impossible to live in a lead free world, but is it really impossible to keep lead out of lipstick? Aren’t these the same companies with the glossy ads promising products that can bring balance, health and vitality to our lives?… READ MORE

Shouldn’t they be at the front of the line offering to reduce their contributions to the toxic world? On the contrary, the world’s richest cosmetics companies take the position that small amounts of hazardous chemicals are safe to use in cosmetics. The cosmetic industry’s chief spokesperson, Dr. John Bailey, told the New York Times that the chemicals being singled out by the environmental groups are present in such small amounts in personal care products that they pose no threat to human health. He compared them to slat in cooking. “A little salt on your peas or tomatoes can be good.” Dr Bailey said. “But a lot of salt can have adverse health effects on your blood pressure, and too much can be fatal.”

Why not restrict in the US? — Most people on the US believe the government makes sure personal care products are safe. However, this is not the case. The US Food and Drug Administration does not have the authority to require companies to safety test personal care products before they go on the market and cannot even recall defective or possibly harmful cosmetics. Instead, the industry gets to “police itself” through a group called the Cosmetic Industry Review (CIR) panel. The CIR panel is funded by the cosmetics industry through its trade association, the Cosmetics, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association. The panel has seven voting members, with non-voting memberships for the trade association, the FDA and a consumer group.

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Ava Anderson products

EXCELLENT ARTICLES:

TEEN STUDY: Teen Girls' Body Burden of Hormone-Altering Cosmetics Chemicals… READ MORE

Cosmetics: Chemical Dumping Ground
READ MORE

FDA Regulations Permit Toxins in Cosmetics
READ MORE

Scientific American, How Safe are Cosmetics?
READ MORE

Reproductive Roulette… READ MORE

Fragrances Are Not Safe… READ MORE

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