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Take time to educate, train and learn about the chemicals you use everyday. You have a right to good health, but by using these chemicals and products you are compromising you own continued state of health.

Cosmetics Industry

Cosmetics and toiletries in everyday use contain chemicals that threaten human health and the environment. Most popular shampoos, shower gels, moisturisers and perfumes are complex mixtures of synthetic chemicals which pose a range of risks. Even products marketed as 'organic', 'herbal' or 'natural' may contain only a trace of a natural essence added to a synthetic formula.

The industry fuels people's insecurities about their appearance and body odour to sell products that are at best unnecessary and at worst linked to allergies, skin irritation, cancer and hormone disruption. In fact we wash gallons of these chemicals down the drain every day, polluting the environment and poisoning wildlife. Nobody has tested the effects of repeated, long-term exposure to a mixture of chemicals from our daily routines of cleansing, moisturising, deodorising and applying make-up

What can you do reduce your exposures?
Educate yourself on environmental risks
Clear you indoor environment of synthetic chemicals
Don’t be taken in by advertising
Avoid products containing risky ingredients
Avoid over packaged goods
Use alternatives
Consider less toxic cleaning products e.g. vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda and old fashioned elbow power
Make your own products
Don’t put on your body anything you wouldn’t put into it
Write to manufacturers and complain

Perfumes and fragrances
No legal restrictions on quantities or combinations of chemicals in cosmetics.
Ingredients of perfumes do have to be listed - 95% are synthetic compounds derived from petroleum.
Fragrance chemicals are aka ‘parfum and ‘fragrance’ - some cosmetics contain anything from 5 to 100 fragrances.

The most worrying types of chemicals are those which are hormone disrupters and/or which can build up inside in the human body.
Hormone disrupters interfere with our body's hormones; and when they build up in our bodies it is known as bio-accumulation. The risk with these chemicals is that it's not known what the long term effects of some of them might be.

There is a vast and ever increasing quantity of chemical safety legislation. In the first three months of 1999, for example, a new set of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations and two sets of the Chemicals (Hazardous Information and Packaging for Supply) (CHIP) Regulations came into force along with new legislation on asbestos and major accidents.

All this legislation offers a measure of protection to workers and the public; safety representatives need to be informed about its scope. Reps also need to understand the limits of the law and realise it does not provide enough protection on its own, not least because it is badly enforced.

A note on safety data sheets
Safety data sheets must be provided with all dangerous chemicals and must contain information under the following headings:
• identification of the substance / preparation and company
• composition / information on ingredients
• hazards identification
• first aid measures
• fire fighting measures
• accidental release measures
• handling and storage
•exposure controls / personal protection
• physical and chemical properties
• stability and reactivity
• toxicological data
• ecological data
• disposal
• transport information
• regulatory information
• other information
Safety data sheets vary widely in quality and should never be treated as an authoritative source of information. Their compilation by the end users of chemicals does not in itself constitute a COSHH assessment.

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Found: in hair sprays, perfume, nail polishes
aka: any chemical name ending in phthalate including Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP or BzBP)
Use: It’s used for plasticizers to soften skin, skin moisturisers and skin penetration enhancers in cosmetics.
Facts: DBP DEHP and BBP known to cause reproductive and developmental effects in lab animals.
Linked to premature breast development in girls and damage to reproductive development in male foetuses.
Are hormone disrupters.
Contribute to allergic disease (including asthma).
US banned them from children’s toys fearing future fertility problems.

Found: in toiletries, deodorants, moisturisers, food stuffs e.g., pie fillings, beers and jam.
aka: Alkyl parahydroxy benzoates – butyl / methyl / ethyl / propyl / isobutyl paraben
Use: preservative
Are oestrogen mimics
Penetrate the skin
Effects of low level daily exposure unknown

Found: in deodorants, toothpaste, vaginal washes, clothing, liquid soaps, mouthwashes
aka: 5-chloro-2- (2,4-dichlorophenoxy) – phenol. Often not marked as is used in trade mark mixtures.
Use: antibacterial
Found in human breast milk and fish
Forms dioxins (cancer causing) when is manufactured or incinerated.

Found: in lacquers, nail polishes
aka: toluol, methylbenzene
Risk of spontaneous abortion if exposed
Skin irritant
Causes liver damage
Narcotic in high doses
Is volatile and flammable
Attacks Central nervous system, eyes blood, liver, kidneys and skin

Found: in lacquers, nail polishes
Aka: xylol or dimethylbenzene
Skin and respiratory irritant
Causes liver damage
Narcotic in high doses

Used: in disinfectant, germicide, fungicide, defoamer, preservative.
Found: in deodorants, nail varnish
aka: formalin, formal, methyl aldehyde
Human carcinogen
Triggers asthma symptoms
Irritant to eyes and upper respiratory tract and mucous membrane
People are sensitised after repeated exposure
Can damage DNA

Alkylphenol ethoxylates
Used: in surfactants (allows liquids to foam or penetrate solids)
Found: shampoos, hair colours, shaving gels
Aka: nonylphenol, octylphenol
Hormone disrupters
Toxic to fish
Bio-accumulative (they build up in body fat faster than they can be broken down)
Several are on the international list to be phased out

Used: in nail polish remover, perfumes
Toxic if ingested
Irritates lungs
Causes brittle nails

Ethyl Acetate
Found: nail varnish
Irritates the eyes and respiratory tract
Effects central nervous system
Irritate eyes, nose and throat
Anaesthetics effects


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