Moms: Protect Your Young Girls From Chemical Overexposure
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.