The Hormone Disruptors in Your Cosmetics

Chemicals such as phthalates (phthalatic acid esters) and parabens are found in personal care products (PCPs), pharmaceuticals, toys and food packaging, but they are especially dangerous in cosmetics.  First, these chemicals are known to interfere with the production of hormones, including estrogen and testosterone. Second, agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration do not monitor or regulate cosmetics as they do pharmaceutical drugs.

An Agilent GC/MSD was used to determine phthalate levels in cosmetics and PCPs in Canada.  Five out of 18 investigated phthalates were detected in hair sprays, hair mousses, skin cleansers and baby shampoos, with the highest levels in fragrances and nail polish.

An Agilent HPLC was used to detect phthalates and parabens in PCPs in the U.S.  Nine phthalates and six parabens were determined in 170 PCPs, including 20 baby care products.  The daily exposure for infants and toddlers was calculated to be three times higher than for adult females.

An Agilent GC/MS and HPLC were used to measure phthalates and parabens in five categories of PCPs in China.  The highest concentrations were found in hand and body lotions.  Paraben exposure from PCPs was two orders of magnitude higher than phthalate exposure.  The study found that PCPs are the major sources of human exposure to two particular parabens.

There is good news in all of this research.  In a study just published by U.S. and Mexican researchers, 100 teenaged girls switched their cosmetics and other PCPs for alternatives that did not contain four hormone-disrupting chemicals (phthalates, parabens, triclosan and oxybenzone).  After only three days, their systems showed a 25-45 percent drop in the levels of those chemicals.

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