Posts Tagged ‘Cosmetics Database’

What’s ‘Greenwashing’ and How Can I Tell if Something is Really Green, Natural or Non-Toxic?

Thursday, January 5th, 2012


It’s time for New Year’s resolutions! The perfect time to get started on going green and natural and providing a healthy environment for you and your family – an environment free of toxic, or potentially toxic, chemicals. But embarking on such a journey can be confusing; you may have already experienced the let down of buying something that is labeled ‘green’, ‘natural’, ‘eco’, or ‘non-toxic’, only to find out that there’s very little difference between that product and its toxic competitors. That kind of marketing is now known as ‘greenwashing.’

‘Greenwashing’ is a relatively new term. It’s an adaptation of ‘whitewashing’, which is defined in Encarta as a “cover-up: a coordinated attempt to hide unpleasant facts, especially in a political context.”

The same dictionary defines ‘greenwashing’ as “bogus environmentalism: public relations’ initiatives by a business or organization, e.g. advertising or public consultation, that purport to show concern for the environmental impact of its activities.”

Examples of ‘greenwashing’ aren’t hard to find:

• Cosmetics that add a little aloe vera or Vitamin E and label their products ‘natural’, even though they have made no changes in the rest of their ingredients.

• Laundry detergents or cleaning products that add baking soda or enzymes to their products and display in big, bold letters on the box that they ‘clean with natural enzyme action’, but they fail to mention that they also contain phthalates, sodium laurel sulphate, and so on.

• With crib mattresses, and mattresses for adults, you might see something labeled as ‘eco-…’ or ‘soy-based’, giving you the idea that the foam they use is made from soybeans – what could be more natural? In fact, the soybean content is minimal, and the rest of the materials are the same as they used to be.

We couldn’t possibly put all the examples of ‘greenwashing’ in this blog, nor can we give you all the information on each chemical and its level of toxicity. But we can give you some information on where to find out this kind of information relatively quickly and easily. Here are some of our favorites resources:

Healthy Child Healthy World – A wealth of data, and a good search engine. Just type in the chemical you’re concerned about, or another question, and you’ll find answers.

Environmental Working Group – This site really keeps you up to date with what’s going on in the world of toxics and creating a safe home and environment. It also has a great menu system and search engine.

Cosmetics Database – This is a wonderful tool for information on the toxicity of the ingredients for cosmetics and personal care products – everything from baby shampoo to anti-aging serums. Lots of detail. You can use this database to find out about the healthiest choices in these kinds of products.

Home Safe Home and Toxic Free – Two excellent books by Debra Lynn Dadd. What chemicals to watch out for in what products, healthy alternatives, and more. Informative, complete, well-organized, fun and easy to read – you’ll want to read them cover to cover and keep them for easy reference.

As for baby crib mattresses and crib mattress bedding, check our website pages “What’s In” and “What’s Not In” for lists of the materials we use and don’t use, and why.

Of course, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of other sources of information, but with the few listed above, you should be able to find out just about everything you need to know. And they will help you cut through the greenwashing propaganda like a pro!

We’re looking forward to a happy, healthy, 2012 and wish the same for you and your family. Let’s make all our resolutions a reality!

Keeping Your Baby Safe at Bath Time

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010


safe bath and personal care products for kidsHaving your baby sleep on a Naturepedic baby crib mattress prevents exposure to many harmful chemicals, but exposure doesn’t end there. Check out this information on bath and personal care products.

While not every personal care product for babies and children contains harmful ingredients, two notable carcinogens that are by-products of the manufacturing and storage process are showing up in a majority of products tested by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition with several notable founding and sponsor members, including the Environmental Working Group. Parents should be aware of what these products are and how to avoid them.

The chemicals of concern are 1,4-dioxane (aka dioxane) and formaldehyde. They are not listed on labels because they are by-products, not ingredients.

Here’s the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics explanation of how they contaminate the products:

“Formaldehyde contaminates personal care products when common preservatives release formaldehyde over time in the container. Common ingredients likely to contaminate products with formaldehyde include quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea.

“1,4-dioxane is a byproduct of a chemical processing technique called ethoxylation, in which cosmetic ingredients are processed with ethylene oxide. Manufacturers can easily remove the toxic byproduct, but are not required by law to do so. Common ingredients likely to be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane include PEG-100 stearate, sodium laureth sulfate, polyethylene and ceteareth-20.”

What Damage Can Be Caused by These Chemicals?

1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde are both known carcinogens.

1,4-dioxane has also been linked to damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys, and exposure has even been fatal to chemical workers. It readily absorbs into the bloodstream.

Formaldehyde can cause coughing, wheezing, watery eyes, itching, and skin irritations, has been linked to allergies and asthma in children, and to the development of leukemia as well as nose, lung, and brain cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Test Results

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics tested 48 commonly used baby products including baby shampoos, bubble baths and baby lotions. Here’s a brief summary of what they found:

* 17 out of 28 products tested – 61 percent – contained both formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane.
* 23 out of 28 products – 82 percent – contained formaldehyde at levels ranging from 54 to 610 parts per million (ppm).
* 32 out of 48 products – 67 percent – contained 1,4-dioxane at levels ranging from 0.27 to 35 ppm

The Campaign acknowledges that using just one of these products might not be a problem – but several of them are used several times a week for years. Add that to toxic chemical exposure from other sources, and that’s quite a load for a little, not as yet developed body.

More Information on the Tested Products and Safer Alternatives

Check out the report on the study, No More Toxic Tub, for a full list of the products tested, the results for each (including which ones tested as safe), more details on 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde, and additional data. It is an interesting and easy read.

If you’re looking for alternatives, check www.cosmeticsdatabase.com – a wonderful database that provides information on individual products. You can look for the safest products there as well seeing which ones you should avoid.

There are plenty of safe products out there for our kids, and you don’t have to be a chemist to find them. All it takes is a little education.