Teenage girls across America are contaminated with hormone-altering chemicals found in cosmetics and body care products, confirms a new study released today by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
The first-of-its kind study found 16 toxic chemicals in blood and urine samples from 20 teenage girls from eight states and the District of Columbia, aged 14-19, including preservatives, fragrance and antimicrobial compounds. Many of these are linked to serious health risks in lab animals, even at low-dose levels.
“Hormone-altering chemicals shouldn’t be in cosmetics, especially in products used by millions of teenage girls,” said Rebecca Sutton, Ph.D, author of the report and Staff Scientist at EWG. “Their bodies are still developing and may be especially vulnerable to risks from these exposures,” added Sutton.
The young women participating in this study were recruited from locations across the U.S. and represent diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. They used an average of nearly 17 personal care products per day that contain a total of 174 unique cosmetic ingredients.
The study provides the first data available from teens on levels of synthetic chemical musks, common fragrance ingredients that accumulate in people and act like estrogen in the body, and preservatives called parabens that also mimic estrogen.
“The Teen Body Burden Study is proof that something needs to be done. My results serve as permanent motivation to fight the chemical battle and win,” said Jessica Assaf, one of the teens tested.
Federal health statutes do not require companies to test products or ingredients for safety before they are sold. As a result, nearly all body care products contain ingredients that have not been assessed for safety by any federal agency, and are not required to meet any uniform safety standards.
“Most parents don’t know that the eyeliner, lipstick or shampoo they allow their daughters to use probably contains at least one chemical linked to a number of serious health concerns,” said Sutton. “Teenage girls are at a particularly vulnerable age and these exposures could trigger a subtle sequence of damaging effects that leads to health problems later in life.”
Teenagers and their parents can consult EWG’s Skin Deep online database to help them make informed decisions about their products.