14 november 2012

Toxic chemicals in men's grooming products


(courtesy Environmental Defence)
The NGO, Environmental Defence tested a variety of common men's grooming products for their toxic chemical content

November is a month in which thousands of men around the world raise awareness for men’s health issues.  Sponsored by family and friends, they grow moustaches for what has become known as Movember, and then shave them off with the funds raised going toward research into such things as protate cancer.

In recent years, men’s personal care products have become increasingly popular, from specialized shampoos, deodorants, hair gel and dye, to shaving creams and after-shave.  While their shaving gear has been temporarily set aside for “Movember”,  a group called Environmental Defence commissioned lab tests of men’s care products, including aftershave, deodorant, shampoo and others. Some 17 different products were tested, and results showed they often contained toxic chemicals which are linked to cancer, sperm damage, asthma and other chronic health concerns.The report is called "The Manscape: The Dirt on Toxic Ingredients in Men's Body Care Products (access through their website)
Environmental Defence is an Ontario-based charity concerned with environmental pollution and how pollution affects human health.   The non-governmental organization (NGO) founded some 20 years ago, deals with environmental legal defence issues along with climate change, pollution, and environmental issues affecting human health.

Their earlier research testing and campaign against BPA (Bisphenol A-which mimics estrogen) resulted in that chemical being banned from use in baby bottles.

For some time there have been awareness campaigns about toxic chemicals in some women’s grooming products, such as lead in lipstick, and dioxin in shampoo. In their latest campaign, Environmental Defence contacted 5 men in four provinces and asked them for samples of the products they had in their shaving kits.

(courtesy Environmental Defence) A quick glimpse of the results of chemical testing of 17 typical consumer products for men's grooming- from the report 'The Dirt on Toxic Ingredients in Men's Body Care Products' (more graphs and detailed information available in the report available on the Environmental Defence website

Some 17 very common men's consumer grooming products were tested.  These included shampoos, soaps, shaving cream, deodorants, and hair dye.  The report found chemicals of concern in most of the products, and while some were indicated on the label, others were not. 

The group says although the levels of the chemicals were small, the effects are cumulative along with long use and exposure to other similar chemicals in many other products.

(photo courtesy Environmental Defence) Adam Hodgins, one of the five volunteers for the research project submitted his hand soap, shaving cream, and moisturizer. He says “I think of myself as a health conscious person. I always read the labels and I’m  pretty strict about what I put into my body. But how am I supposed to do that when there are hidden ingredients?”.

Environmental Defence says, there’s really no good reason for either the harmful, or the potentially harmful chemicals to be included in the products, and are asking consumers to pressure the manufacturers and governments for stricter controls and more inclusive labeling. They have added a petition to their website to help exert pressure for more regulations on both these concerns.

Maggie MacDonald is the Manager of the Toxics Programme at Environmental Defence. To hear her conversation with Marc Montgomery click on 'listen'.
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