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Moms: Protect Your Young Girls From Chemical Overexposure

By Britta Aragon on August 23, 2010 | 11 Comments

In one of our former posts, we talked about the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) survey that found 16 chemicals in the blood and urine samples of 20 teen girls, ages 14–19 years. Phthalates, triclosan and parabens—linked with breast cancer and reproductive damage—were discovered, all of which are present in beauty, makeup, and personal-care products. We urged you to help your daughters find organic and chemical-free products that will help reduce their exposure.

We want to go a step further and ask you to take an overall look at the chemicals in your daughters’ worlds. The idea that chemicals in the environment and in the products we use can disrupt hormones and cause health problems is now an accepted fact. The question now is how much exposure translates to increased risk?

Until we know the answers, it’s wise to do everything we can to lower the amount of chemicals in our lives, to safeguard our health and the health of our children, who are at a higher risk because of their developing bodies. According to the EcoWaste Coalition, which earlier this year released the report “Girl, Disrupted: Hormone Disruptors and Women’s Reproductive Health,” manmade, hormone-like chemicals in the environment harm women’s reproductive systems, particularly when exposure occurs during prenatal and early-life development.

“I continue to be surprised by the number of doctors that come up to me at conferences and comment on what they are seeing in their patients that they have never seen before,” said Dr. Tracey Woodruff, Director of the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment at the University of California. “Girls entering puberty at extremely young ages, young women suffering from the inability to get pregnant and conditions normally associated with older ages such as very painful fibroids, endometriosis and breast cancer.”

Hormone disruptors are found not only in beauty and personal-care products, but in plastic bottles, sports bottles, canned foods, microwave containers, polyvinyl chloride (in some shower curtains), first- and second-hand smoke, detergents, herbicides, auto exhaust, and more. They can also come from agriculture, industry, and lawn-care products. Because they’re all around us, we can’t possibly eliminate all exposure, but we can certainly make choices that will reduce it. Stacy Malkan, cofounder of Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, suggests that beauty products, which are inhaled (perfumes and sprays), swallowed (lipsticks), and absorbed by the skin (makeup, cleansers, and lotions) are a great place to start, since the contact with the human body is so direct.

“While we may not be able to control the carcinogens we breathe from the air or drink from the water,” she says, “we don’t need to be putting these chemicals directly on our skin.”

Read our list of ingredients to avoid, visit EWG’s cosmetics database (Skin Deep), choose products with fewer ingredients and fewer chemicals, ditch the plastic water bottles, use glass to heat things in the microwave, and try to cut down on the number of products you use, or even the days you use them. For example, on the weekends, have a “makeup-free” day with your teen, where neither of you use makeup products. Make it fun to get educated, and you may just raise a more health-conscious teen with a lower risk of cancer and other hormone-related health problems later in life.

Have you started educating your teen on dangerous chemical ingredients? Please share your story!

Photo courtesy BrittneyBush via Flickr.com.

Posted in: Toxic Talk and Labels


11 Comments to “Moms: Protect Your Young Girls From Chemical Overexposure”

  1. mamaglee says:

    Before we took my step-daughter to college, we reviewed all of her body care products with the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep data base to find the safety of her products. Those that were not safe were tossed out. We used the data base to find alternative products that were safer, and she went to school with a good selection of safe products. What amazed me was the mouth wash her dentist said was imperative for her to use. It was one of the most toxic products she had. Since her dentist, and the ADA, sanctioned the product, she was afraid if she didn’t use it, she would get more cavities. Luckily, I have a bio-compatible dentist, and she agreed to go to one for her next dental visit. Thank you, Mamaglee in San Francisco

  2. Consuelo says:

    We are just finalizing our line of organic makeup for girls just for this very reason!

    Why does it need to be dangereous to have fun with makeup? Girls who need to wear makeup for dance and cheeleading competition are recommended to use Outside/In Cosmetics which like Roxz offer organic, preservative free and vegan friendly cosmetics. http://www.roxzgirlz.com and http://www.outsideincosmetics.com

  3. Karen Reilly says:

    This is scary and when I think of all the products I used growing up I wonder how many had an impact on a few of my health issues. If we can change the thinking of everyone buying products and actually reading what is in them, we could really have an impact on the health of our nation.

  4. Citrus Moon says:

    Its amazing how these chemicals get into and move through the system. 16 different chemicals including phthalates and parabens. I am the owner of Citrus Moon Bath & Body and we are making a conscious effort (and shift) to be phthalates and paraben-free. The shift is nearly complete with only 3 products left to rid of these chemicals. A major source of phthalates are fragrances. Up until recently, most fragrances contained DEP (phthalates) but there has been a recent movement of some fragrance manufacturers to make their product free of phthalates. Citrus Moon uses only fragrances that are DEP-free. Parabens are widely used in products today because the are so effective as a preservative (molds, yeast, bacteria, etc). Parabens are commonly used as food additives and methylparaben is naturally occurring in blueberries. Parabens are also used in toothpaste, shampoo, conditioners, lotions, pharmaceutical ointments, etc. Parabens are suspect as a causal agent for breast cancer, however, the link has not yet been proven. Steve from Citrus-Moon.com.

  5. Ann says:

    Do you have any suggestions on organic cleaning products? I’m a cancer survivor and each time I clean with these products, I notice slight bruising to my skin and low platelets. I know you basically talk about chemicals in beauty products. Any suggestion for organic cleaning products. Thank you.

    P.S Love your blog…thanks to you I am better informed.

  6. Cindy Jones says:

    Be careful also to warn your daughters against taking birth control pills. Not only do they cause cancer and life threatening thrombosis but they also build up in our waters
    http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/newscience/2007/2007-0905philbyetal.html

    causing feminization fish and infertility of males.

  7. Britta says:

    You are so welcome Ann! I’m so glad that you enjoy reading my blog.. There are several great cleaning products that are natural, nontoxic to our health and to our environment. Check out Seventh Generation, this is one brand I use available at WholeFoods. Please also check out my post on household cleaning products for more recommendations http://blog.cincovidas.com/are-these-5-housecleaning-products-poisoning-your-home. and http://blog.cincovidas.com/going-through-chemo-popular-detergents-may-be-too-toxic-for-sensitive-skin for more info. Thank you so much for commenting. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any other questions – Britta

  8. Britta says:

    Thank you Cindy for sharing this information and link with us. I did an earlier post on how our wildlife is full of toxins too from what we use on a daily basis http://blog.cincovidas.com/studies-show-all-of-us-including-our-wildlife-are-full-of-toxic-chemicals best to you, Britta

  9. Britta says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! It’s really a shame how unprotected we are from products that can encompass a number of chemicals but only use one word like ‘fragrance’ on their ingredient list. Hopefully we will be able to get some regulation in the industry in the near future. Please continue to comment and share with us! – Britta

  10. Kay says:

    I am so happy that you have written about this topic. I have counseled many young girls and their mothers about the harms of chemical laden skin care and beauty products. This is really becoming a major issue. Between topical toxins and the food being eaten, girls are maturing much earlier and experiencing a host of problems girls in my age group never dealt with when we were young. This really needs to be an ongoing discussion.

  11. Britta says:

    Thanks so much Kay for reaching out and commenting! I’m so happy to hear that you are spreading the word to inform and protect young women and their mothers. Please continue to support the movement and good luck to you! – Britta


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