Now this always warms my heart…(can you sense the sarcasm?) And as much as I enjoy studies that prove companies to be trying to greenwash the public, this really does hurt as we have used a lot of these products over the last couple of years. Seems that the Organic Consumers Association did a little study on some of our favorite bath and household products and found them to contain the carcinogenic contaminant 1,4-Dioxane. Yummy!
Ethoxylation, a cheap short-cut companies use to provide mildness to harsh ingredients, requires the use of the cancer-causing petrochemical Ethylene Oxide, which generates 1,4-Dioxane as a by-product. 1,4-Dioxane is considered a chemical “known to the State of California to cause cancer” under proposition 65, and has no place in “natural” or “organic” branded personal care products. 1,4-dioxane is also suspected as a kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant and respiratory toxicant, among others, according to the California EPA, and is a leading groundwater contaminant. Although previous studies have revealed 1,4-Dioxane is often present in conventional personal care products, this new study indicates the toxin is also present in leading “natural” and “organic” branded products, none of which are certified under the USDA National Organic Program.
This last sentence is probably the most important line of this entire study. See, all the products that were deemed “unsafe” are not actually certified organic by the USDA; rather, they have a certain percentage of ingredients that allows them to call themselves “organic”…without actually being certified organic. I wrote about the difference before. So what companies made this list of products with carcinogenic ingredients?
Well, the Organic Consumers Association tested 100 so-called “green” products, ranging from dish soap to shampoo, and they found this carcinogen in products from:
Ouch. Here is a full list in PDF form. Granted, not every product from those companies has 1,4-Dioxane in it, but still…since they are marketed as safe, natural and organic, you would think that none of their products would have 1,4-Dioxane in it, right? And I know what you are thinking now…who does that leave that actually makes a product without this carcinogen inside? The OCA says:
Well, that certainly is good news, because right now we have a giant bottle of Dr. Bronner’s in the shower that I use for both shampoo and body wash, and my moisturizer is from Aubrey Organics. However, I see some things on the “bad” list that my wife uses…will have to go through everything now.
Whatever you do, please do not take this as a sign to go back to using crappy products in your house. As the list proves, there are products available that actually are natural and safe…the difficult part sometimes can be picking out the good ones from the bad ones. The OCA suggests that when you are shopping for home and body care products, you search ingredient lists for the following indications of ethoxylation (which requires the use of the cancer-causing petrochemical Ethylene Oxide, which generates 1,4-Dioxane as a by-product):
“myreth,” “oleth,” “laureth,” “ceteareth,” any other “eth,” “PEG,” “polyethylene,” “polyethylene glycol,” “polyoxyethylene,” or “oxynol,” in ingredient names. In general, the OCA urges consumers to avoid products with unpronounceable ingredients.
Time to go look through our medicine cabinet. And time for these companies to either change their formulas or stop marketing themselves as being natural and organic. I hate this kind of thing.
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