from the world's big
You’ll Never Guess How Many Chemicals Are Inside Your Body Right Now
A piece of legislation to address the problem is getting widespread support. Yet, it’s stalled.
The average person uses about nine personal care products per day and never thinks twice about them. Many use more. These are your shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, lotions, creams, cologne or perfume, and cosmetics. Let’s just say you use nine products. That equals 129 unique chemicals you’re exposed to daily. Yet, few of their ingredients are proven safe for human health.
It’s gotten so bad, scientists are now starting to talk about our “chemical body burden.” This is the amount of chemical buildup in human systems, which could increase the chances of cancer or fertility problems. Toxins in the environment, say smog, you can’t do very much about, except move. What products you choose to put in your bathroom is another matter. You might be shocked to find out there’s little oversight as to what chemicals can be included in personal care products.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), federal law regulating such products hasn’t changed much since 1938. The FDA doesn’t test the ingredients of these products for efficacy or safety. Only colored additives require the agency’s approval. The agency can’t issue recalls on cosmetics or hygiene products either.
The average woman uses 12 such products daily, exposing her to 168 unique chemicals per day. According to the EWG, one of every 13 women are exposed to a known or suspected carcinogen, every day, while one out of every 23 men are. Taken together, that’s 12.2 million adults. What’s even more concerning is that manufacturers aren’t required by law to put all of their ingredients on the label.
Those who use more cosmetics than average are likely to increase their exposure to carcinogens. Getty Images.
Another problem is how these chemicals may be affecting our reproductive systems. Human fertility has declined significantly over the last two decades. Sperm counts in particular have taken a nosedive. Exposure to endocrine disruptors in hygiene products is one theory. These are chemicals that mimic sex hormones, throwing off our body’s equilibrium. Parabens and phthalates are two of the most commonly mentioned.
In a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers combed through every adverse effect from a personal care product reported to the FDA between 2004 and 2016. These complaints came through the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition’s Adverse Event Reporting System (CFSAN). What they found was that in 2015-2016 period, reports of adverse effects increased significantly. While the average is 396 annually, in that year 1,591 were reported.
One particular product, WEN by Jaz Dean cleansing conditioners, received a record 127 complaints, more than any other hair care product in history. Investigating further, the agency found 21,000 other negative claims targeted at the manufacturer or distributor, rather than the product itself. Some of the reported side effects include itching, rashes, hair loss, hair breakage, and baldness. Yet, despite all this, the conditioner is still on the market, while the FDA is examining “additional consumer reports.”
The $40 billion dollar cosmetic and personal care product industry gets little oversight. Getty Images.
Fortunately, a piece of legislation looks to address this, the Personal Care Products Safety Act. It’s an amendment to the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Put forth by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine), the bill has widespread support from legislators, the industry, and even consumer watchdog groups. Over a dozen companies support it including Unilever, L’Oreal, Revlon, and Johnson & Johnson.
And why would these companies so readily sign on to a bill that’ll likely increase their financial and regulatory burden? The answer may lie in the record $110.5 million settlement, paid out recently by Johnson & Johnson. It turns out, baby powder used consistently over years causes ovarian cancer. Or perhaps the reason is that the burden will likely impact small and mid-level competitors more, which could give corporate giants an edge.
Some of the new powers the FDA would have include recalling questionable products, creating and enforcing best practices, enforcing the requirement of special labels on products not suitable for children, inspecting facilities and company records, and enforcing a requirement that companies print all of a product’s ingredients on its label and online.
The FDA would also evaluate at least five ingredients per year. Some of the first chemicals on the list are lead acetate, propyl paraben, methylene glycol/formaldehyde, diazolidinyl urea, and quaternium-15.
The bill was introduced to the floor on of the Senate in 2015. Last September the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions held a hearing. Then, last May, the bill was read twice and referred back to the same committee. Controversy’s surrounding in the White House and differences between the legislative and executive branches, have caused Congress to move at a sloth-like pace this year, part of a trend taking hold in recent years. Despite widespread support, the bill doesn’t seem likely to cross the president’s desk anytime soon.
To read the bill for yourself, click here.
For a list of products and ingredients to avoid, try here.
If you want to know what chemicals are in your personal care products, go here.
Finally, to find out more about the chemicals inside our bodies, click here:
Join multiple Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Judith Light live on Big Think at 2 pm ET on Monday.
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.