Levels of suspected ‘hormone disruptors’ in teen girls dropped after they switched to products that didn’t contain them

A recent study found that after three days of not using personal-care products that contain “problematic substances,” the levels of chemicals that potentially disrupt hormones in the bodies of teenage girls dropped, Environmental Working Group Vice Preisdent Alex Formuzis writes for its Enviroblog.


The study, led by Kim Harley of the Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health at the University of California-Berkeley, asked 100 Latina girls between 14 and 18 years old to not use personal-care products such as cosmetics, shampoos and soaps, for three days and instead to only use products free of the suspected hormone disruptors: phthalates, parabens and triclosan. The girls, all volunteers, were given products that did not contain these chemicals.

After three days, the teens’ urine tests showed a 44 percent decrease in the levels of methyl and propyl parapen, preservatives widely used in cosmetics, shampoos and skin lotions; a 35 percent decrease in triclosan, a commonly used antibacterial chemical that has been linked to the disruption of thyroid and reproductive hormones; and a 27 percent decrease in mono-ethyl phthalates, a common industrial plasticizer found in some nail polishes and fragrances.

“Techniques available to consumers, such as choosing personal care products that are labeled to be free of phthalates, parabens, triclosan, and oxybenzone, can reduce personal exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals,” the study authors wrote. “Our study did not test for the presence of these chemicals, but simply used techniques available to the average consumer: reading labels and investigating product safety through web-based databases.”

The study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, notes that the study shows that “consumers may be able to reduce exposures to these chemicals by seeking out commercially available products with lower levels of these chemicals.”

However, Formuzis pointed out that the federal Food and Drug Administration has “virtually no authority” over this industry and notes that this study helps to, “underscores the need to regulate the personal care products industry.”

Legislation by U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), proposes to do just that.

“The Feinstein-Collins Personal Care Products Safety Act would give the FDA tools for ensuring the safety of personal care products as strong as those that regulate food and drugs,” Formuzis writes. The bill would require the FDA to investigate the safety of five cosmetics ingredients and contaminants yearly; cosmetic makers would have to register their manufacturing facilities,disclose their ingredients, report health incidents related to their products, and label their products with disclosures and warnings as needed; and it would allow the FDA the authority to recall dangerous products.

Formuzis reports that “some of the corporations backing the Feinstein-Collins bill include Revlon, Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, L’Oreal, California Baby and the industry trade organization, the Personal Care Products Council.”

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