Oh, don’t worry, you’re just a mommy blogger & just a little bit of a carcinogen is okay

circle of kidsYes, I’m a “mommy blogger.” Yes, I try to practice a green lifestyle.  Yes, I choose to buy products without certain ingredients in an effort to provide a safer lifestyle for my kids.  I choose the alternatives.  I sort of think that it makes sense to be safe instead of sorry, especially when alternatives are available at pretty much the same price point.  And I’d rather give my money to a company doing the Earth some good.

That does not make me a hysterical mommy blogger.  That does not make me stupid. 

I understand the dose response relationship.  Yes, I’m well aware that traditional toxicology is founded on the principle the dose makes the poison, as I am also aware that the current school of toxicology thought is the dose and the timing make the poison.  Yes, I get it. 

A representative from the Formaldehyde Council has been making the rounds commenting on our various blog posts suggesting that we don’t know what we are talking about. There are also some twitterers who also respond to our tweets suggesting that we just don’t get the science. We are mommy bloggers. 

Hey, paid PR people (as we have discovered they are), do you get the science? And, by the way, do you understand that my children don’t use just one product?  That we have sources of formaldehyde and dioxane elsewhere in our lives?  That the cumulative exposure to certain chemicals, and how they may work together, might make the exposure and risk more significant?  

And, by the way, if you are bathing your child, and you have the option of a product with and one without 1,4 dioxane at the same price and the same effectiveness, are you really going to tell me you would pick the product with 1,4 dioxane in it? 

Or will you not drink the chromium tainted water either? (Reference to Erin Brokovich if you don’t get it.) 

What the heck am I talking about? 

green moms carnival logoThe Green Moms Carnival this month blogged about 1,4 dioxane, formaldehyde and other problemmatic ingredients in baby bath products.  You really should go check out Sommer at Green & Clean Mom who hosted this carnival. 

Why did we tackle this topic?  Because, a couple of weeks ago, the Environmental Working Group released a report (No More Toxic Tub) that looked at the concentrations of two carcinogens, 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde, in baby bath products.  The information that these compounds are present in personal care products isn’t new (I’ve posted before about their presence in so called natural personal care products and litigation in California), but the focus on concentrations in baby bath products was new.  At the same time, in a case of bad timing, at least to the members of the Green Moms Carnival, Johnson & Johnson announced a new social media campaign using mommy bloggers to talk about its baby bath products and launched a video campaign using children bathing, with the top video being awarded $10,000. 

I called out the spokesperson, Angie Harmon, and Johnson & Johnson for purporting to be green yet continuing to use petroleum based ingredients containing carcinogens in non recycled content bottles.  And the other Green Moms were upset too, each with a different take on the issue.  Let me be clear – we understand that the EWG’s report does not purport to assess whether exposure actually occurs or whether that exposure would result in a health effect. 

Some of the commenters, particularly a representative of The Formaldehyde Council, keep saying that it is just a little bit, nothing to worry about.  Okay, that may be true – but I really don’t care.  I worry about the cumulative risk of exposure.  My kid will not just get 1,4 dioxane from one product, but from several products, plus other sources.  In fact, my kids get exposed to all sorts of chemicals, manmade & naturally occuring.  (Yes, I understand that carcinogens naturally occur in certain foods. You don’t need to tell me.)  So, if I can, I will use my money to support the company that can make the product without those potentially harmful ingredients. 

And. to be frank, everybody said that lead in paint was safe for YEARS.  Think about it – the first reported health effects linked to lead paint were in 1904.  Yet, in the 1940’s, after France and England and even Cuba had banned lead in residential paint, the US paint industry was still telling us lead in paint was safe.  We didn’t even get around to limiting lead in consumer paints and painted products until the 1970s. 

Alice Hamilton was called hysterical, yet her work helped protect countless workers.    

Everybody said that lead in gasoline didn’t really contribute to children’s blood lead levels.  Yet, banning lead as a gasoline additive has resulted in a dramatic drop in children’s blood lead levels (along with the limit on lead in certain consumer paints). 

DES was supposed to be safe.  So were PCBs.  As was DDT.  Now we have flame retardants, phthalates, triclosan and more that are being called into question. 

Do you see a pattern here?  We don’t always know what is safe or not, sometimes hazards pop up long after a compound is deemed safe.  (DES anybody?) We don’t always know what will harm our environment or not.  Unintended consequences often happen.  Synthetic chemicals persist in the environment, or react with other compounds, causing problems down the road.  (Yes, we still find PCBs and DDT in our homes and our bodies, including newborn cord blood, 30 years after they were banned.)  

So for me – I pick the products without those potentially harmful or questionable ingredients when I have a choice. 

And what do we use?  I love Earth Mama Angel Baby products.  California Baby is great too.  We use a lot of inexpensive plain liquid castile soap too – cheaper than almost every single conventional product on the market.  There are lots of wonderful products out there without phthalates, 1,4 dioxane or formaldehyde.  And most of those companies use less packaging, use recycled content packaging, steer clear of using any non renewable resource, etc.  I’d rather use my money for those products because, well, my children deserve it.  And so does the Earth.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.