Triclosan, long-chain parabens, and phthalates — you find these chemicals in many common household products from soap, to shampoo, makeup, plastics and toothpaste.
Environmental groups are concerned.
“Some of them can be things that are sensitizers and skin irritants that people need to be aware of. Other ones can be endocrine disrupters, which means they have an ingredient that can mimic or interfere with estrogen in our body,” says Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis, executive director of Women For A Healthy Environment. “There has been a public outcry in recent years to look for safer ingredients.”
As part of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of advocacy groups are urging manufacturers to remove the worrisome chemicals.
In response to this pressure, Johnson & Johnson is going to reformulate its products over the next three years.
“I think it’s fabulous,” says Naccarati-Chapkis. “We look at them as a leader in the industry. We put a challenge out to the other companies as well now. Avon, Loreal, Estee Lauder, Proctor and Gamble, we’d like to see you step up to the plate as well.”
The levels of these chemicals in human beings has been found in higher amounts, and it’s not always easy to remove these products through water treatment. The issue is the possibility of disrupting hormones, muscle toxicity and cancer.
“A couple of the ingredients that we have identified have been shown to cause cancer in animals,” she explains.
The first step is eliminating unnecessary components such as the chemicals in question that act only as preservatives.
“There are already reformulation is other countries,” she adds. “We need to have safer practices in the United States as well.”
Other chemicals that will be phased out include dioxane, formaldehyde, diacetyl, polycyclic musks, and animal-derived ingredients. These aren’t always listed on labels, because they are actually used to react with listed ingredients, or they come about through heating or some other process.