Just as it’s critical to be a conscious consumer as you note what food products you’re buying and what’s in those products, the same case rests with household and personal care goods. While conscious consumerism should be encouraged anywhere globally, in the US it’s particularly important: for example, the EU has banned more than 1,300 chemicals from personal care products, yet the United States, by comparison, has banned only 11 ingredients, including mercury and chloroform.
In 2013 Wal-Mart had stated that it would be announcing select dangerous chemicals that it would be asking its suppliers to remove from their products. This action comes as a result of consumers demanding more transparency about the ingredients that are included in the products they buy but are not disclosed on packaging.
At long last, eight chemicals in household and personal care products have been announced on Wal-Mart’s removal list. They have been identified as harmful to human health and/or environment, and suppliers are also encouraged to find “greener” alternatives.
Anticipated to be included on this list, triclosan is indeed included, commonly found in many toothpastes, mouthwashes, soaps, and cosmetics, amongst other personal care and cleaning products. Studies have shown that triclosan causes disruptive hormonal changes, allergies, cancer, and environmental hazards. It also comes in many names (see infographic for more information).
Triclosan is meant to fight the spread of germs, however in an increasingly world of antibiotic resistance, this chemical causes much more harm than good, disrupting the overall microbiome with our bodies. Dr. Axe reports that “superbugs are now a major problem, which are a direct result of triclosan usage.”
The other seven chemicals in household and personal care products that are on Wal-Mart’s list include:
- Formaldehyde – carcinogen found in resins for wood products, building materials, paints and some consumer products like cosmetics
- Toluene – a colorless liquid that is used in paint thinners, nail polish and fragrances
- Diethyl phthalate – used to make plastic more flexible and in cosmetics, insecticides and aspirin
- Nonylphenol exthoxylates – surfactants used in industrial applications and consumer products such as laundry detergent
- Butylparaben – solvent
- Propylparaben – preservative
Wal-Mart has asked their supplies to reduce and remove these chemicals by 2018. If they are still included in products then they must be disclosed on a label.
“This is an important milestone, but the company shouldn’t stop there,” said Mike Schade, who heads the retail campaign at Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. Wal-Mart should expand its list of high-priority chemicals, he said, given its power “to transform the marketplace and bring safer products into the hands of consumers across the world.” [Bloomberg]