Posts Tagged bioaccumulative

My Toxic Face Wash

Body Log Table –> Body Log Table

Products that I used during the Body Log

  1. Neutrogena Blackhead Scrub
  2. Dove Deodorant
  3. Neutrogena Oil-Free acne Wash
  4. Bare Minerals Powder Foundation
  5. Bad Gal Eye Mascara
  6. Neutrogena Eyeliner
  7. Giant Brand Nail Polish Remover
  8. Crest with Scope Whitening toothpaste
  9. Scope mouthwash
  10. Vaseline Petroleum Jelly
  11. Burt’s Bee’s Medicated Chapstick
  12. “Fresh” Perfume
  13. Aveeno Oil-free Face Moisturizer
  14. Neutrogena Makeup Removing Pads
  15. Vaseline Shea Butter Body Moisturizer
  16. Purell Active Hand Sanitzer
  17. Assorted Anti-Bacterial Hand Soaps (Bathrooms around campus)


I was personally not surprised at how consistently I used my products because I have used the same products for years now because of the sensitive nature of my skin and body to new products. So, going into the log I knew that I wouldn’t drift from my normal routine. However, the aspect that most surprised me was, after the log was finished, and I was reviewing how often I used each item, I found that a majority of the products were not “necessary” for my survival. For example, I could live without my “Bad Gal” eye mascara, but because I have grown up religiously reading magazines with beauty tips that have told me that my eyelashes aren’t lengthy or dark enough to look “beautiful” I have to manipulate them with makeup. This type of foolery within our society has made us, girls especially, believe that these “unnecessary” products to our survival have become essential. Guilty as charged. I cannot imagine what I would do without my powder foundation or my $15 bottle of shampoo. Reflecting back on this need for my products that I use the most, I have found that this sick addiction to our products have gotten in the way of what we most need for our survival, and not what society has placed upon us to think is necessary for acceptance.

Poison, ahem, “Product” of choice…

Neutrogena Blackhead Eliminating Scrub

Known carcinogens:

• Salicylic Acid

• Iron Oxides

• Polyethylene

All in all my product placed lower on the risk scale for the known carcinogens within the scrub. This was partially because of the neutrality of the salicylic acids and the oxides and their chemistry within the product. However… the

Development/ Reproductive toxicity was quite high because of the… Disodium EDTA or…

• EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) is a chelating agent, used to sequester and decrease the reactivity of metal ions that may be present in a product.


• Alfred Werner (1893) developed chelating agents, which in 1913, earned him a Nobel Prize

• ORIGIN: Starting in the 1920’s, many new materials such as paints were introduced, and in their manufacturing the elimination of heavy metal contamination was crucial. Citric acid was found to be helpful, but in the mid 1930’s Germany was motivated to develop its own chelating material and not be dependent on importing citric acid. The synthetic substance they invented was EDTA (Ethylene-diamine-tetra-acetate).


Environmental Concerns of Disodium EDTA

• Has emerged as a consistent organic pollutant

• It degrades to ethylenediaminetriacetic acid, which then cyclizes to the diketopiperizide, a cumulative, persistent, organic environmental pollutant.

• In the New Zealand dairy industry, EDTA has been used as an additive alongside caustic agents to improve cleaning efficiency within dairy processing plants and to minimize dairy wastewater discharge into the environment. There are two main disposal methods of dairy wastes; direct discharge into the local stream after treatment, and spray irrigation onto pasture land. (

Known Occupational Hazards

  • Exposure to Titanium Dioxide (in small doses in the workplace)

The titanium dioxide has been found to be a carcinogen through several studies with the use of lab rats between 1985 and 2004.

a Titanium Dioxide Chemical Factory in China


Resources I used:


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Toxicity Report 2012


Time Date Product Type Product Name Product Name
5:08 PM Tuesday Hygeine Chapstick Eucerin Aquaphor Advanced Therapy
6:34 PM Tuesday Hygeine Body wash Gud from Burt’s Bees
6:40 PM Tuesday Hygeine Shampoo Tea Tree Lavender Mint moisturizing Shampoo
6:45 PM Tuesday Hygeine Conditioner Tea Tree Lavender Mint moisturizing Conditioner
11:10 PM Tuesday Hygeine Toothpaste Crest Regular Toothpaste
12:05 AM Tuesday Hygeine Chapstick Eucerin Aquaphor Advanced Therapy
10:34 AM Wednesday Hygeine Toothpaste Crest Regular Toothpaste
10:45 AM Wednesday Hygeine Deoderant Dove antiperspirant & deoderant invisible solid original clean
5:06 PM Wednesday Hygeine Chapstick Eucerin Aquaphor Advanced Therapy
6:36 PM Wednesday Hygeine Chapstick Eucerin Aquaphor Advanced Therapy
8:35 PM Wednesday Beauty Body spray Gud from Burt’s Bees
12:06 AM Wednesday Hygeine Toothpaste Crest Regular Toothpaste
11:33 AM Thursday Hygeine Toothpaste Crest Regular Toothpaste
11:42 Thursday Hygeine Deoderant Dove antiperspirant & deoderant invisible solid original clean
12:36 PM Thursday Hygeine Chapstick Eucerin Aquaphor Advanced Therapy
7:45 PM Thursday Hygeine Shampoo Tea Tree Lavender Mint moisturizing Shampoo
7:55 PM Thursday Hygeine Conditioner Tea Tree Lavender Mint moisturizing Conditioner
8:05 Thursday Hygeine Body wash Gud from Burt’s Bees
1:30 AM Thursday Hygeine Toothpaste Crest Regular Toothpaste
11:05 AM Friday Hygeine Toothpaste Crest Regular Toothpaste
11:15 AM Friday Hygeine Deoderant Dove antiperspirant & deoderant invisible solid original clean
11:45 AM Friday Hygeine Chapstick Eucerin Aquaphor Advanced Therapy

A. Reflection on my body work products

I was happy with my list and wasn’t really very surprised because I’ve always been pretty simplistic in terms of body work. That isn’t to sound all high and mighty, because the somewhat minimal effects on my environment and my body due to my little product usage is not based on my awareness and education on the importance of maintaining a conscious lifestyle in this context. In other words I’d like to give a shout out to my sheer laziness, without which I might have otherwise become a complete product hound. Really though, if I am to be completely fair, my mother is very simplistic product-wise, so I think in that sense I had a good role model. Although both of my sisters use more products than I do (starting with make-up), they keep it fairly low-key as well.

A thought this image stirs: We may be personally applying our eyeliner daily (literally), but what got us to this point? Who is really (indirectly, figuratively) picking out the specific product for us and applying our eyeliner every day and driving us to the store when we use it all up every two months? What is our role in that entire process?This image is so common. My sisters and I definitely played with make-up as little girls. Things like this are instilled in women at a very young age. They become instinctual. It's not to say that wearing make-up is bad; my claim is instead that wearing makeup (or acting, in general) unconsciously, without considering the many implications and motivations of the action can be dangerous. It isn't the end (wearing make-up, in this case) that is the problem, it is the justification behind it (or lack thereof). The stronger claim that it is irresponsible on a personal and societal/environmental level to remain unaware regarding body work is something else to be considered.

My older sister is very into health and good habits, and she actually has an herbal doctor who she gets consultations from and talks to about her body work (although she doesn’t use this term) as well as the things she ingests (vitamins, diet, etc).  It is funny because I never really thought of her as being particularly aware of her body in this ‘body work’ context, but she has always been very careful about the products she uses. I think that she would be totally into this class. But although she does try to buy products that are ‘good’ for the environment, she is primarily concerned about how the product will affect her. She doesn’t think about how the production of the product has affected its workers, or how the location of the company has affected others, either. I am just realizing that there are so many elements to consider for each and every product. I am certainly interested in reevaluating all of the products that I use and running them through by the Skindeep site, but I have a feeling that something’s gotta give, as they say. What I mean is, I think that realistically, though not always, I am going to have to choose between buying from a company that tests its product on animals or one that is located near a school and emits toxins into the air through their production process. Maybe I will choose a product that is a moderate hazard overall on my body and does not test on animals; I know that my sister, although an animal lover, will probably always prioritize her own body first. Maybe that is the way it should be. This project has not taught me the “correct” way to prioritize which hazards are better than others, and for good reason: there is no such universally “correct” way. In buying a product, we are responsible for all of the effects it has because we are paying for this product to continue to exist; we are endorsing it with our money. I am going to have to prioritize what is most important to me in the products I use. Maybe it will change from product to product, or maybe I will have a strong ‘no testing on animals’ policy every time. But to get into these specifics right now would be to miss the point: we are responsible for being conscious of our impact on our environment (which of course includes other people) and ourselves. The first and most important step is to be aware. It is easy to check the skindeep site as a starting point and figure out if the product that I am thinking about buying is really good for me or made by a company that I want to support. This class educates me on the effects, this project informs me on ways in which I can become aware of the particular effects of the products I use, but the next step is entirely up to me. The next step, deciding how to prioritize its effects, what to do with this knowledge, will be up to me. I define ‘risk’ and I define ‘necessary’ regarding the products that I use, but this responsibility to be aware of the way in which my product usage affects the world must play a role in my decision. My point really is that, although I “did well” in using so few products (which were rated as moderately low concern), it is not actually “doing well” in the relevant sense because it was essentially by accident. With the privilege of education, this “by accident” cannot result in praise or excuse.

B. Talk about specific product: Dove antiperspirant & deoderant invisible solid original clean

Okay so let’s get down to business. The deodorant I use is of moderate concern. It is a 5 on the scale of 1 (minimal concern) to 10 (high concern). High concerns are persistence and bioaccumulation, irritation (Skin, eyes, or lungs), and contamination concerns. Moderate concerns are neurotoxicity and organ system toxicity (non-reproductive). The low concerns are endocrine disruption, ecotoxicology, data gaps and enhanced skin absorption. I chose a few that I found particularly interesting to explore in more depth, regarding the specific ingredients that are harmful. With respect to organ system toxicity Talc, Propylene glycol, Dimethicone and Cyclopentasiloxane are classified as “expected to be toxic or harmful”. In terms of allergies/immunotoxicity, the fragrance is a “known human immune system toxicant” and there is strong evidence that BHT is a human skin toxicant. But don’t worry; there is only limited evidence of skin and immune system toxicity in Propylene Glycol!

Major sidenote: I am going to throw this product away once I get back to my room. But then is that somehow worse to throw it away and “waste it”, since I’ve already bought it and therefore endorsed the company that is causing all of this other harm? After I’ve already bought the product, is it worse to throw it away, because then the harm was a complete waste. No matter how many people were affected in the making of this product, and how the rest of the environment was affected, I have already bought it. So now, I will continue to affect myself negatively with the continual use of this product so that something good can come of the whole thing, in this case smelling like ‘original clean’. Sorry, isn’t that what a shower is for? This logic reminds me of the whole scenario in which your parents guilt you into eating more (even though you have explained to them that you are full) because children are starving in (insert country of choice here). Finishing the food out of guilt is just adding another negative to a chain of unfortunate effects. I think that I have my answer. But this leads me to yet another question: how and where should I responsibly dispose of the product?

Anyway back to bringing you the facts: in terms of endocrine disruption, one or more animal studies show endocrine disruption at high does in BHT and moderate doses in Cyclopentasiloxane. The fragrance has moderate evidence of human neurotoxicity and one or more animal studies show tumor formation at moderate doses in Cyclopentasiloxane, and at high doses in BHT. WOW, I have to take a moment to catch my breath. There is so much information to take in. Next I looked at the amount of exposure vs. level of risk analysis. Although this product is only considered an overall moderate hazard, being that it is deodorant makes a difference. What I mean by this is that it is something that I use at least once daily. Deodorant is also the kind of product that you just continue to replace once it is used up, without thinking twice about it. You may want to try a different body spray scent or a shampoo that “fights frizz”; but once you find a deodorant that you like you generally stick with it, like toothepaste. What I mean is, it is important to consider these concerns in the context of the product and how you use it. A high concern of persistence and bioaccumulation in deodorant is a big problem for the long term because the dose is a key factor in play. Skin and eye irritation is also a high concern and that would be a factor not only long term, but specifically an example of a short term effect as well. That is one of the considerations I made when thinking about the product and myself. Even just considering the way in which the product affects me, I have come to the conclusion that I do not want to use it anymore. I will have to search for a better alternative.

Now I should talk about the impacts the existence of this deodorant has on the environment. I want to talk about the bioaccumulation and persistence aspect. If it is a bioaccumulative and persistent toxin, it means that even when I decide to throw it away and stop using it, the negative effects do not stop there. This seems to be an overall pattern in ecofeminism. In particular, the ingredient Cyclopentasiloxane is persistent and bioaccumulative (although it has not been deemed ‘dangerous’ by the powers that be since the bar is so ridiculously high in the United States), and so it will continue to be a problem for the environment. Generations after mine will be affected by my uninformed choice to endorse this product by buying it. To give an overview of the ecotoxicology report, there were two ingredients which were “expected to be an environmental toxin and persistent or bioaccumulative”. These were Dimethicone and Cyclopentasiloxane. There were four ingredients that were “suspected to be an environmental toxin”, being Steareth-100, Stearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl oleate and C12-15 alkyl benzoate. It is so frustrating that this is not information that the companies are compelled to disclose.

Okay, so now I am going to look at where the product was produced and the impacts in terms of the workers and the surrounding community. Dove toiletries are produced in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Ireland, Netherlands, Thailand, Turkey and the United States and both the trademark and brand name is owned by Unilever. This is the part of my research that became even more complex. I looked into Unilever and they seemed to be really sustainable. I looked at many different sites, but I was particularly struck by their official website, which includes information about the environment and specific links to “investing in our employees” and “local communities”. In terms of investing in its employees, Unilever discusses in detail “employee safety, health and well-being, promoting diversity, sustainable living plan targets and respecting rights” (Unilever Global; all further quotations unless otherwise specified are from the same source). I chose to concentrate on “employee safety, health and well-being” for this report because I think that it best speaks to the effects of the company on its workers in the context of toxicity, although they are all important elements. Unilever purports to be “committed to providing a safe workplace for [its] employees and improving their health through better diets, work practices and lifestyles”. In this section, the site explains how the company has improved conditions in terms of workplace fatalities and accidents, trying to ensure safe travel and transport, etc. I was confused… where was the mention of the chemicals used?

I thought that I found what I was looking for finally under the title, “Process safety”, defined here as “concern[ing] the safety of manufacturing processes which can be potentially hazardous”. Aerosol spray is used as an example due to its flammable nature. Unilever’s aim is to “prevent any incident which would result in fatalities, serious occupational injuries or a threat to the local community, such as a major fire, explosion or leakage”. That sounds really good. Now I don’t want to be too cynical, because they do mention, for example, that they have developed “new methods of the handling of the enzymes in their laundry products manufacture and ammonia refrigeration” which again, sounds promising. It is tough to believe that the company is genuine when it could be just as likely that they are greenwashing; what I mean by this is that they could easily be playing up through advertisement their great environmentally friendly initiatives all for show. In this specific case I am talking about workers rights, but the concept still holds. What I mean is, they could be all-talk in a superficial kind of way.

Regardless of their intentions though, the results are what is important. The company seems very intent on stopping obvious injustices, like “fatal accidents”, but they overlook the fact that toxins are fatal. These toxins are silent and invisible killers from the general societal perspective, and therefore ignored. The fact is that these toxins are dangerous to me, because they are in the product that I use daily; the level of risk is high enough for me. But the level of risk is substantially higher for these workers due to their heightened exposure.

However after doing further research, I think that the company is on the right track. They specifically outline “aerosol manufacture, sulphonation and the handling of enzymes”; this is hopeful because these are things that I found out were problematic from the SkinDeep website. At least the company is admitting some of the major dangers involved for the workers. However, I would have liked to see more on their website about how they work towards combating these potential dangers and keep the workers safe. They give a very vague answer, citing that their approach to “process safety informs the way [they] design, develop, construct and operate [their] manufacturing sites.” It also ensures any modifications to sites are “managed correctly”. Once again, that sounds really good. But as long as the employees are dealing with these toxins for at least eight hours everyday, then I need to see specific statutes in place, protecting the workers. It is even worse when the employee lives nearby the worksite, because then even when she leaves work, the toxins are in the community, bioaccumulating and persistent, and silently harming and killing her even when she leaves work, along with the surrounding community.  Unilever explains how the company contributes to its local communities (89 million Euros in 2009 and 91 million Euros in 2008). This doesn’t really sit well with me because after noticing the blatant vagueness or total emission of important information on their site, this “contribution” felt eerily like a concession of guilt (misunderstood to all except those who have done a lot of research).

If instead of discussing the ways in which the toxins from the production of Unilever’s products affect the community, the company talks about how much money it provides to the community, it is as if the company asserts that the question of toxicity and its effects on the community does not matter because the community is being compensated. But the communities do not know what this money is “for”; they are not given the choice to reject the money and instead live and raise their children in a toxin-free environment. The website asserts that the company “seeks to make positive contributions to the communities where [they] operate”, however if it were being honest, it would include in this section the not-so-positive dangers and threats that they are contributing to the communities.

Who are the modern-day actors? Being clubbed over the head with "contributions to the community" can be a great distraction.

To give an example as to the dangers that Unilever puts on the workers and surrounding community, I will use Cyclopentasiloxane. At moderate doses, animal studies have shown endocrine disruption (McKim JM Jr, Choudhuri S, Wilga PC, Madan A, Burns-Naas LA, Gallavan RH, Mast RW, Naas DJ, Parkinson A, Meeks RG, 1999). By the Environment Canada Domestic Substance List, it is classified as expected to be toxic or harmful. We already know that it is persistent and bioaccumulative in wildlife based on Canada’s 2006 Accelerated Reduction/Elimination of Toxics. Six years after Canada has officially considered it a PBT, Unilever (and many other United States companies) allow their workers and the surrounding community to be subjected to it. It causes organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), neurotoxicity, and endocrine disruption and has ecotoxicological ramifications. This is all very interesting, because the product was given only a 5 for overall concern! That is only moderate concern. This made me realize that, especially in the United States, it is important to keep in mind that this scale is weighted. “Moderate” does not mean that you are doing great. It is actually quite bad even after just looking at it from a few of the different angles. This again speaks to what we talked about with Professor Howard. Many of these problems would be avoided if the U.S. had a precautionary approach to toxicity. I could go on for a lot longer, but I guess I should wrap this report up. It was very informational and has left me with more questions than answers, but at least now I have an understanding of how to approach this process of informing myself about these things, and will have this to draw on as a template from now on when investigating exactly what I am doing when I put my deodorant on in the morning.

C. What else to do besides feeling angry and ranting about it

So now I guess I will talk a little able the way to move beyond these injustices. First, I think that every company should have to be honest with their workers and inform them about what the effects of the job are. I think this type of educational orientation should be enforced. It is not the company’s right to tell a worker where she should or should not work, but it is its responsibility to inform them in an accessible way regarding the dangers of their jobs. This is the first of the kinds of incentives that will create this necessary shift. This kind of social shift that would need to take place (a valuing of the worker over the product!!) would involve a huge amount of work in a country like the United States. Commodifying human beings is deeply entrenched in our culture. This needs to change and there isn’t a simple solution. The Unilever sight explained a little about the “behavioral changes” that the company was encouraging as part of a new, more sustainable movement. I think that this is a good starting point. The company should be intent upon hiring executives who understand the importance of sustainability and safety. The only way that this can be the case is if the powers that be in the company itself decide to shift their priorities. In order for this to happen, there would need to be an incentive. A policy change on the federal level, like a tax or other monetary incentive of some sort, would encourage this shift. On a federal level, there could also be mandated educational conferences for the executives so that they not only have a monetary incentive, but are actually able to understand why the change is of ethical importance. With both monetary and ethical incentives, a genuine behavioral shift can take place. From this behavioral shift from the top, the social shift can more easily take place as the effects of the policy changes trickle all the way down the chain. Also, there should be a surging from the bottom-up as grassroots movements educate people regarding these issues.

This might only work in an ideal world. I realize from this class that it is important to focus on the small victories while also keeping the larger goal in view as well. I respect that. But the problem is, other countries have deemed a lot of these chemicals blatantly unsafe. They are chemicals that are not prohibited in products because of all the negative affects they can have. So I just can’t aim any lower than focusing on getting a precautionary principle implemented in the United States. This is a solid first step. In order to do so, there will need to be widespread education on these issues, so that could be considered the “smaller goal,” but I am aware that this is a colossal goal in itself. I realize that for the United States to take on a precautionary approach is a nearly unimaginable goal in itself, but I really do think that the kinds of changes, which need to take place, are firmly rooted within the foundation of our system. I am really not trying to be too idealistic and as a result too abstract, but I genuinely think that the small changes, which can be made in order to make the work environment and the surrounding community “more safe,” should take place only in conjunction with these larger initiatives. They are necessary to the cause, but certainly not sufficient. With that said, here are two specific modifications that would create some progress: more research on the long-term effects of these chemicals being used and handled and the development of safer alternative resources. These two examples are important and essential to reaching the overall goal, but the bigger ideological picture is what will drive all of this home, and create motivation and pressure to change.

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