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April 21, 2018

Everyday household cleaners and personal care products have the potential of bringing harmful chemicals into your home.

The EWG tested 21 commonly used cleaning products (including air fresheners and cleaning sprays) and discovered that they emitted more than 450 chemicals into the air, causing the air inside our homes to become more polluted than the air outside. These harmful chemicals contain a number of compounds linked to cancer, developmental and reproductive harm, and asthma. Constant exposure to these compounds is greatly affecting the health of our families and the environment. To make matters worse, babies in the womb and children are found to be more vulnerable than adults to the effects of these chemicals. So why are we still putting ourselves and our families at risk?

Knowing this, the idea of “going natural” becomes much more appealing. Unfortunately, product labels can be deceiving. Just because a product is in the natural aisle at the store doesn’t mean that it’s free of nasty chemicals and synthetic fragrances. It’s not that they’re lying, it’s just that the average consumer is not educated on the endless jungle of harmful ingredients. Some of the most widely used natural products still contain artificial dyes, fragrance, and things like methylisothiazolinone and dihydrogenated palmoylethyl hydroxyethylmonium methosulfate. That’s why we researched each and every one of our products and made sure they had clean ingredient lists and some the lowest ratings possible on EWG.

The EWG (Environmental Working Group) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization backed by scientists, policy experts, and lawyers fighting for our public health and the environment when the government and industry won’t. They work tirelessly to educate and empower consumers to make more informed decisions about the products and companies they support through their reports, online databases, mobile apps, and communications campaigns. Using online resources like EWG’s Skin Deep database, consumers are able to research all sorts of products and ingredients and learn what they mean in a language we can understand.

Below is a list of ingredients you won’t find in our products. If a product is hazardous to your health, you won’t find it in our kits. Simple as that.

 

Fragrance

Made up of chemicals that have been linked to breathing difficulties, allergic reactions, and asthma.

When “fragrance” is listed in the ingredient list, it really means that there are a plethora of unnamed and potentially hazardous chemicals bundled together to make it smell good. Manufacturers aren’t required to list all of the chemicals in their mixtures, so they hide behind the word “fragrance”. These chemicals may disrupt hormones and cause asthma, allergies and irritation, and cancer.

Found in:

Personal care and baby products, laundry detergents, hand soaps, dishwashing soaps, household cleaners, perfumes, hair care products

Purpose:

To make things smell “good”

How to avoid:

Make sure to check ingredient labels for “fragrance”
Always purchase products that are fragrance free

 

Quaternary Ammonium Compounds, or “QUATS”

Possible skin irritant and respiratory irritant. Can cause asthma.

Besides causing irritation when in contact with skin, inhalation of the vapors (especially when enhanced with warm water) can be troublesome. People with asthma or respiratory conditions should take extra precaution to avoid products containing quats because of their effect on the airways. It may also cause asthma in those who don’t already have it.

Found in:

Antibacterial spray cleaners, fabric softeners, anti-static agents, hair products, deodorant, baby wipes, sunscreen, acne treatments, body washes, bubble bath, and liquid hand soap

Purpose:

Conditioning agents to give skin and hair a smooth feel

How to avoid: 

Check ingredient labels for distearyldimonium chloride, diethyl ester dimethyl ammonium chloride, or variants of hydroxyethyl methyl ammonium methyl sulfate

Avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets all together and opt for alternatives like these wool dryer balls

 

Ammonia

Can cause bronchitis and asthma, irritation to nose and throat, eye and skin irritation.

Although ammonia is found naturally in our bodies and in nature, when it is produced and used in high concentrations, it can be a powerful irritant. Direct contact with high concentrations of ammonia can cause serious skin burns, eye damage, or even blindness. Many housekeepers or people with extended exposure often develop chronic bronchitis and asthma.

Found in:

Polishing agents, glass cleaner, oven and drain cleaner, all purpose cleaners, and toilet bowl cleaners

Purpose:

Powerful cleaner, evaporates and doesn’t leave streaks on glass

How to avoid:

Choose glass cleaners and surface cleaners without ammonia like Aunt Fannie’s Cleaning Vinegars

Create your own all purpose cleaner with castile soap and water

 

Chlorine

Can cause thyroid disruption, lung and respiratory irritation. Dangerous for people with heart conditions or chronic respiratory problems.

Chlorine can be pretty complex. As it reacts with water, chemicals, and organic substances, it can create a variety of harmful, even poisonous byproducts including chloroform (a possible carcinogen) and trihalomethanes (linked to bladder cancer). Depending on exposure, it can range from acute respiratory issues to circulatory system damage and thyroid disruption.

Found in:

Laundry whiteners and bleach, dishwashing detergents, mildew removers, toilet bowl cleaners, scouring powders, and tap water

Purpose:

Sanitize drinking water and bleach textiles

How to avoid:

Avoid chlorine bleach and choose products like this Oxygen Whitener

Create your own natural laundry whitener with hydrogen peroxide, washing soda, and lemon juice

 

Methylisothiazolinone

Preservative associated with allergic reactions. Causes skin, eye, and lung irritation.

Methylisothiazolinone is commonly used as a preservative in cosmetic and personal care products. It is one of the most common causes of irritation and contact allergy. Upon exposure, it can be associated with allergic reactions causing skin, eye, and lung irritation. Studies show that methylisothiazolinone may also be neurotoxic.

Found in:

Personal care products, body wash, lotion, sunscreen, hair products, liquid soaps and detergents

Purpose:

Preservative in liquid products

How to avoid:

Search ingredient labels and avoid products with Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) or Methylchloroisothiazolinone (CMIT), especially avoid products with a mixture of CMIT and MIT

 

Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives

Preservatives may harm the brain, and interfere with growth and development. Associated with allergic reactions.

Although cosmetic companies aren’t adding formaldehyde directly into their products, they’ve found a roundabout way of producing it by adding other chemicals considered “formaldehyde releasers” which slowly release formaldehyde when combined with water. Formaldehyde is considered a possible carcinogen with links to cancer. The “releasers” and the formaldehyde they generate can also cause skin rashes, allergies, and irritation.

Found in:

Baby and adult skin care products

Purpose:

Preservative

How to avoid:

Avoid products with preservatives all together

Search ingredient labels for formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives like quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, quaternium-15, hydroxymethylglyconate and bronopol (2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1-3-diol)

 

Oxybenzone

Can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions. May interfere with hormone activity.

Found in the bodies of nearly all Americans, oxybenzone is used as a chemical filter in sunscreen that may mimic hormone-like activity in the body. Exposure to oxybenzone may cause high rates of skin allergies, decrease of testosterone and other sex hormones in men, and may also affect birth weight in babies. Due to additional chemicals in sunscreen that promote quick absorption, oxybenzone is often found in blood, breast milk, and urine samples.

Found in:

Sunscreen

Purpose:

Ultraviolet light absorber

How to avoid:

Read ingredient labels first and opt for sunscreens that don’t contain oxybenzone

Choose a mineral sunscreen that uses physical blockers like zinc oxide to block harmful rays

 

Triclosan

Possible disruption of thyroid and reproductive hormones.

Triclosan works to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination in antimicrobial soaps and personal care products. Although it has been banned from soap in 2017 by the FDA, you may still find it in products like toothpaste or used on wood or children’s toys. It is considered to be very toxic to aquatic environment, and may disrupt thyroid function and reproductive hormones. Overuse of these antimicrobial products may promote the development of bacterial resistance.

Found in:

Antimicrobial soaps and body washes, toothpastes, and some cosmetics

Purpose:

Prevents bacterial contamination

How to avoid:

Read labels and choose products that don’t contain triclosan, or avoid products advertised as “antimicrobial”, “odor fighting”, “germ killing”, and “antibacterial”, choose soap and water for handwashing (researchers found it just as effective at killing disease causing germs as antimicrobial soaps), and use microfiber cloths to wipe away germs and bacteria

 

Parabens

May cause reproductive issues and hormone imbalance. Associated with developmental disorders in children.

Parabens are most commonly used in cosmetics to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold and are found in almost every American body. They are estrogen-mimicking preservatives that may disrupt the endocrine system and cause reproductive and developmental disorders. Researchers have discovered the presence of parabens in breast tumors, but still have not proven a relationship between the two.

Found in:

Hair and skin care products, cosmetics, food, and drugs

Purpose:

Preservative

How to avoid:

Read labels for ingredients ending with –paraben, like ethylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben

 

Phthalates

May damage men’s reproductive system, leading to reduced sperm counts. Associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

Exposure to phthalates is hard to avoid when they can be found in anything from food to personal care products, and most of the time can’t be found on labels because it hides behind the all-inclusive term “fragrance”. Studies indicate phthalates can cause endocrine disruption, damage the male reproductive system (the female reproductive system may be less sensitive to phthalates), may impact fetal development, and is a possible human carcinogen.

Found in:

“Fragrance” in personal care products, nail polish, children’s toys, plastic food containers, plastic wrap

Purpose:

Makes plastic more bendable and helps fragrance linger longer

How to avoid:

Avoid all personal care and household products that contain “fragrance”

Aways heat up food in glass containers

Search for plastics with recycling codes 1, 2, and 5, as those don’t contain phthalates

 

List of 10 Most Harmful Ingredients in Personal Care and Household Cleaning Products

 

For more information on potentially harmful ingredients and how to avoid them, we reccommend using databases and resources like madesafe.org, www.ewg.org and www.safecosmetics.org.