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Get involved in local, state, and national efforts to modernize chemical safety testing to keep harmful chemicals out of products in the first place. Let your elected leaders know that you value modernized chemical regulations. To learn about national initiatives, visit Silent Spring Institute’s Take National Action and the Safer States website.
Lobby for better labeling of personal care products and cleaning products. To learn more, consult the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website.
Results from Silent Spring Institute’s Household Products Study show that current testing and labeling requirements neither prevent the use of endocrine disrupting compounds in commercial products nor provide enough information for consumers to consistently avoid them. Endocrine disrupting compounds are chemicals that can alter hormonal signaling and are being studied to see how they affect child development, reproduction, and hormonal cancers, including breast and prostate cancer.
Sunscreens, antiperspirant deodorants, and antibacterial hand soaps are regulated as over-the-counter drugs by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; their labels are required to list only “active” ingredients. For cosmetics, the agency requires the listing of ingredients in order of predominance. Chemical constituents of fragrances and “incidental ingredients” do not need to be listed. And the labeling terms “natural,” “nontoxic,” and “green” are unregulated and require no standardized ingredient information.
The Silent Spring Institute findings bolster advocates’ call for full disclosure of product ingredients to allow consumers to make more informed choices. This information would also help researchers and policy makers seeking to evaluate health risks.