Cleaning and Personal Products Contain Dangerous Chemicals

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May 4, 2023 -- Dangerous chemicals are found in dozens of everyday consumer products, according to a new survey.

The chemicals were found in more than 100 products commonly used in homes and workplaces, says the study, which was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. They have been linked to cancer, and reproductive and developmental problems. 

These products include nail polish, shampoo, lotion, soap, all-purpose cleaners, laundry detergent, and dishwashing soap. “The largest group of products were those that might be used in workplace settings, such as factories or construction sites, and included adhesives, degreasers, lubricants and sealants,” The New York Times reported. 

Researchers cross-checked two databases maintained by the state of California. The first was a list of products containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are chemicals that turn to gas and go into the air easily. The second list was chemicals that cause cancer or reproductive and developmental problems. These were identified by Proposition 65, California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act.

Researchers found 33 VOCs on the Proposition 65 list in 105 product categories.

Some products contain multiple chemicals.

“These volatile organic compounds are there in almost every product that we use: the consumer products, personal care products, cosmetics,” says Kurunthachalam Kannan, a research professor at NYU Langone Health who was not involved in the study, in The New York Times.

Researchers said 11 chemicals and 30 product categories represent “immediate targets for regulatory restriction or manufacturer design.”

Consumers can limit their exposure by using fragrance-free products and making sure that they are getting fresh air.