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Toxins In Cosmetics / Educational Video

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Uploaded on May 12, 2009

Toxins In Cosmetics / Educational Video. News Report of Toxic make up on the market. Creative Commons license: Public Domain

Recently, leading cosmetic companies including Avon, Estee Lauder, and Revlon embarked on a campaign to distribute pink ribbons, which are intended to highlight the need to support the fight against breast cancer. The response of leading activist organization Breast Cancer Action Network was swift and sure. They condemned the campaign as a marketing gimmick and the companies as hypocritical. Why? Because the very cosmetic and personal care products these and many other companies make are loaded with compounds believed to cause cancer. It is hard to believe, but its a fact that experts say is becoming increasingly clear: most mainstream cosmetic and personal care products contain at least one hazardous chemical compound, and many contain far more than that. By various estimates, there are between about 5,000 and 10,000 ingredients currently being used in everything from eyeliner and lipstick to shampoos and deodorants. While many are thought to be perfectly safe, many are not. The National Institute of Occupational Safety, for example, has identified almost 900 personal care chemicals that are toxic in one way or another. Some cause cancer. Others cause hormone disruption. Some are neurotoxins. And still others can cause organ damage. In Europe, some 400 of these dangerous materials have been banned from consumer products.

In the U.S., were not so protected. The presence of chemical ingredients in make-up and personal care products is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Unfortunately, under current law, the raw ingredients used in such products arent subject to any kind of safety review or approval process before theyre used, and manufacturers arent legally obligated to submit safety data on their product formulas. Only after injuries and problems are reported by the public will investigations begin, and even then its a long way from there to any governmental action that might ban or restrict the compound at fault.

Investigations of the primary hazards that the cosmetic ingredients represent rarely, if ever, occur. Thats because the conditions these ingredients are believed to cause are not immediately apparent. Instead, they take a long time to develop. Unlike a rash or irritation that appears soon after a product is used and disappears soon after that use is stopped, the most problematic illnesses and disorders believed to be caused by the ingredients in personal care products typically take years to manifest themselves. Things like cancer and hormonal disruption dont appear overnight, but only after many years. As such, though we may have excellent reason to strongly suspect cosmetic ingredients as the cause of such maladies, that link is difficult to prove because no clear cause and effect relationship between the products and the disease can be definitively shown to exist. Too much time has passed between the exposure and the end result, or, alternatively, too many years are needed for low doses of a given chemical to do their dirty work. Thus, the public and scientists have great difficulty in demonstrating a direct connection between personal care chemicals and serious long-term illness, and even greater difficulty getting the FDA to investigate. They may have solid lab results indicating that carcinogenic activity can be caused by a given chemical, but they have no real-world proof. Compounding this problem is the fact that manufacturers themselves are not required to report cosmetics-related problems to the government. In the case of cosmetics and personal care products, this is a particularly alarming state of affairs because the very nature of this family of products demands that they be used almost daily and applied directly to the skin.

Skin is the largest organ in the human body, and one of its most remarkable. A breathing layer of protection between ourselves and the world, it grows up and out in layers that replace themselves every 52 to 75 days. The average adult, in fact, sheds about 40 pounds of skin over the course of a lifetime, and typically carries around 21 square feet of it, weighing 7 pounds and containing 300 million individual cells. Each square inch of skin has roughly 10 hairs, 15 oil glands, 72 feet of nerve fiber, 100 sweat glands, and over 3 feet of blood vessels, which make our skin very absorbent and cause the things we put on it become quickly absorbed into our bodies. When it comes to traditional personal care and make-up products, this can be quite hazardous to our health. Parabens, for example, are chemical preservatives that have been found to mimic estrogen and alter the bodys delicate hormonal balance. Another class of compounds commonly found in such products is phthalates, which have been linked to breast cancer.

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