Chemicals in shampoos neither tested nor proven safe

Investigative journalist Ian Urbina writes for the New York Times that “Many people assume” mistakenly that chemical additives in their personal care products have been tested and found to be safe.

It turns out that regulations for chemical additives have not been updated since the Toxic Substance Control Act was passed in the 1970’s, according to Urbina.

He states that although, “Regulators, doctors, environmentalists and the chemical industry agree,” that the outdated law, “Needs fixing.

Of course, these groups do not agree on, “Who should have to prove that a chemical is safe.”

According to the article, the burden of proof as to the safety of chemicals added to “shampoos, detergents and other chemical products” lies with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Urbina writes:

Companies have to alert the Environmental Protection Agency before manufacturing or importing new chemicals. But then it is the E.P.A.’s job to review academic or industry data, or use computer modeling, to determine whether a new chemical poses risks. Companies are not required to provide any safety data when they notify the agency about a new chemical, and they rarely do it voluntarily, although the E.P.A. can later request data if it can show there is a potential risk. If the E.P.A. does not take steps to block the new chemical within 90 days or suspend review until a company provides any requested data, the chemical is by default given a green light.

So, many of the chemical additives in beauty care products, etcetera have not been “independently tested” to see whether they are safe.

“The EPA has mandated safety testing for only a small percentage of the 85,000 industrial chemicals available for use today,” he reveals.

To date, only four chemicals have been banned or restricted, polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxin, hexavalent chromium, asbestos and chlorofluorocarbons.

Urbina continues:

Part of the growing pressure to update federal rules on chemical safety comes from advances in the science of biomonitoring, which tells us more about the chemicals to which we are exposed daily, like the bisphenol A (BPA) in can linings and hard plastics, the flame retardants in couches, the stain-resistant coatings on textiles and the nonylphenols in detergents, shampoos and paints. Hazardous chemicals have become so ubiquitous that scientists now talk about babies being born pre-polluted, sometimes with hundreds of synthetic chemicals showing up in their blood.

The author notes that the chemical dispersants used to clean up the BP Gulf Oil Spill of 2010 had not been adequately tested for safety.  Therefore, the federal government didn’t know if dumping a couple of million gallons of these chemicals would cause harm, or not.

The pharmaceutical and pesticide companies must, “Generate extensive data demonstrating the safety of pharmaceuticals and pesticides before they are sold,” he writes.

Meanwhile, skin care products and cleansers are presumed “safe until proven otherwise”.

Read the full 2 page article published in the NYT Sunday Review, click here.

The first chemical ingredient that I would test is sodium laureth sulfate(SLES), a “foaming agent” that is widely used in soaps and shampoos and even some in toothpaste.   Natural-health-information has published on the dangers of SLES.

I am reminded that in fact, the skin is the largest organ in the human body and the skin must be allowed to “breathe”, in order to excrete toxins from the liver.   SLES clogs the pores so that the skin may no longer breathe.

The Natural-health-information article states:

Both Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and its close relative Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) arecommonly used in many soaps, shampoos, detergents, toothpastes and other products that we expect to “foam up”. Both chemicals are very effective foaming agents, chemically known as surfactants.

Unfortunately, both sodium laureth sulfate and its cousin are also very dangerous, highly irritating chemicals. Far from giving “healthy shining hair” and “beautiful skin”, soaps and shampoos containing sodium laureth sulfate can lead to direct damage to the hair follicle, skin damage, permanent eye damage in children and even liver toxicity.

Although sodium laureth sulfate is somewhat less irritating than SLS, it cannot be metabolised by the liver and its effects are therefore much longer-lasting. This not only means it stays in the body tissues for longer, but much more precious energy is used getting rid of it.

report published in the Journal of The American College of Toxicology in 1983 showed that concentrations of SLS as low as 0.5% could cause irritation and concentrations of 10-30% caused skin corrosion and severe irritation. National Institutes of Health “Household Products Directory” of chemical ingredients lists over 80 products that contain SLS and SLES. Some soaps have concentrations of up to 30%, which the ACT report called “highly irritating and dangerous“.


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