Monday, October 22, 2007

Disturbing: Body Burden

Okay, it's not disturbing that body burden testing is being conducted, but the results of such testing are disturbing. Body burden is the amount of a harmful substance that is present in a person's body.

I heard about this issue for the first time today through a report on I'm sure many people will be disturbed by it. The first thing I thought was, "Okay, what health implications are there for me, my future (yet to be conceived) children and my partner?" With autism and other ailments in children reaching staggering rates, I'm particularly interested in avoiding assaults to my biology that could be passed on to my children.

I tried to find places where I might be able to get such testing completed. Unfortunately, it appears this is a general impossibility short of seeking out physicians conducting research on the matter.

My next thought turned to the things I have in my home. Plastic containers, pots & pans, cleaners, cosmetics, etc etc etc. Poking around on the web resulted in some interesting finds. This tool, Skin Deep's Cosmetic Safety Database let's you search by the cosmetics you have to find out what kind of chemicals they contain. Sadly, I found that the product line I've been using for at least 10 years, Clinique, received a generally mediocre to poor score. I learned about this Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and was very disappointed to find that, even though the Compact has been signed by 600 companies, Estee Lauder (manufacturer of Clinique) has not signed the Compact. The compact can be signed by companies who meet or exceed current EU formulation standards. "Why EU standards," I asked? "What of US standards?" Well, my assumption here is that the US standards are lower. (Still working on the proof for that assumption but this reminds of me of another one of my favorite topics, the myth of the American Dream. How is it that this is still perpetuated by the way?).

Apparently, in 2003, the European Union passed an amendment prohibiting the use of carcinogens, mutagens and reproductive toxins from cosmetics. Signatories of the Compact "pledge not to use chemicals that are known or strongly suspected of causing cancer, mutation or birth defects in their products and to implement substitution plans that replace hazardous materials with safer alternatives in every market they serve." Who hasn't signed? OPI, Avon, Estee Lauder, L'Oreal, Revlon, Proctor & Gamble and Unilever.

I did discover that the Body Shop scored alright on these charts and that they signed the Compact in 2004. Serendipitously they are located a few short blocks from my apartment. Looks like I'll be ditching my beloved Clinique Stay Ivory oil-free formula in favor something a little more face friendly.

Now, about the rest of the toxins in my environment ...

More reading:
Oct 11, 2007 Boston Globe: Lead tests raise red flag for lipsticks

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