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Ingredients To Avoid

Personal Care Products



Methyl-, propyl-, butyl-, and ethyl-paraben Most commonly created from petroleum. Used as inhibitors of microbial growth and to extend shelf life of products. Widely used even though they are known to be toxic and linked to cancer. Have caused many allergic reactions and skin rashes. Methyl paraben combines benzoic acid with the methyl group of chemicals. Parabens are highly toxic.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Chemcially derived from coconut, thus altering it from its original natural state, this synthetic substance is used in shampoos for its detergent and foam-building abilities. It causes eye irritations, skin rashes, hair loss, scalp scurf similar to dandruff, and allergic reactions. It is frequently disguised in pseudo-natural cosmetics with the parenthetic explanation "comes from coconut."
Pthalates (frequently hide in "fragrance")

These plasticizer chemicals endocrine disruptors which can cause damage to male sex organs and sperm, feminization of baby boys, or infertility.  Avoid dibutyl phthalate in nail polish.
1,4-dioxane and other Petroleum Byproducts

These ingredients include carcinogens in baby shampoo (see new research on 1,4-dioxane) and petrochemical waste called coal tar in scalp treatment shampoos.



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Mercury has been linked to birth defects and is beleived to be linked to increased rates of autism in children according to new studies.



Particles smaller than 100nm (nanometers) which can be easily absorbed by the skin to enter the blood stream and pass through cell membranes. Most commonly used in sunblocks to make zinc and titanium dioxide transparent, to avoid the whitening effect. Titanium dioxide should not be absorbed into the blood stream because of risk of damaging brain cells. Zinc should not be absorbed in high doses by the body because the risk of weakening immune system. Micronized particles, which are larger in size, are not the same as Nanoparticles.


From Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS):


Poison! Danger! Harmful or fatal if swallowed. Harmful if inhaled or absorbed through skin.

Vapor harmful. Flammable liquid and vapor. May affect liver, kidneys, blood system, or central nervous system. Causes irritation to skin, eyes and respiratory tract.


Inhalation: inhalation may cause irritation of the upper respiratory tract. Symptoms of overexposure may include fatigue, confusion, headache, dizziness and drowsiness. Peculiar skin sensations (e. G. Pins and needles) or numbness may be produced. Very high concentrations may cause unconsciousness and death.


Ingestion: swallowing may cause abdominal spasms and other symptoms that parallel over-exposure from inhalation. Aspiration of material into the lungs can cause chemical pneumonitis, which may be fatal. Skin contact: causes irritation. May be absorbed through skin.


Eye contact: causes severe eye irritation with redness and pain. Chronic exposure: reports of chronic poisoning describe anemia, decreased blood cell count and bone marrow hypoplasia. Liver and kidney damage may occur. Repeated or prolonged contact has a defatting action, causing drying, redness, and dermatitis.


Exposure to toluene may affect the developing foetus.

Palm Oil Harvesting palm oil is highly destructive to the environment- it leads to deforestation, extremely high levels of carbon emissions being released into the atmosphere, and endangers several species, including the orangutan.  Learn more on the palm oil wiki.




Cleaning Products



2-butoxyethanol Also known as ethylene glycol butyl ether, this is one of many glycol ethers used as a solvent in carpet cleaners and specialty cleaners. It can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin and may cause blood disorders, as well as liver and kidney damage. According to the fact sheet issued by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, it may also cause reproductive damage on long term exposure.
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Ethoxylated nonyl phenols (NPEs)

Ethoxylated surfactants are widely used in cosmetics as foaming agents, emulsifiers and humectants. As part of the manufacturing process the toxic chemical 1,4-dioxane, a potent carcinogen, is generated.

On the label, they are identified by the prefix "PEG", "polyethylene", "polyethylene glycol", "polyoxyethylene", "-eth-", or "-oxynol-".




Food Packaging



PFCs, including PFOS and PFOA  

PFCs are used in wrappers for fast-food sandwiches, french fries, pizza, baked goods, beverages, and candies because it allows the packaging to resist staining and grease spots.  These chemicals may leech into food, especially if the food is heated.  These chemicals suspected carcinogens, linked to pregnancy complications, and have caused breast tumors and developmental problems in laboratory animals.


Bisphenol A (BPA)


This chemical is why everyone is dumping their nalgene bottle- but it's also used in the linings of most tin cans.  BPA is linked to hormone imbalances, breast and prostate cancer, early puberty and changes in brain structure.  The Environmental Working Group tested BPA levels in canned food and found BPA in over half of the cans.  Chicken soup, infant formula, and tomato based products were the worst canned offenders. 

PVC Contains the phthalate DEHP (Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate) which has banned the use of DEHP as well as other phthalates in PVC toys.


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Green Options › Articles › Ingredients To Avoid