The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


April 21, 2009

Many common chemicals untested

DANVILLE -- Think about your daily routine.

How many cosmetic products do you use? Shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, make-up, lotion.

Consumers may use as many as 25 different products containing more than 200 different chemicals, said Brenda Afzal, MS, RN, with the Environmental Health Education Center at the University of Maryland School of Nursing.

And many of these products are not tested for human safety and are used in heavy manufacturing industries to grease gears, stabilize pesticides and soften plastics.

More than 80 people attended a seminar at the Henry Hood Center for Health Research at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville on April 7 to discuss toxin risks healthcare providers should know at home and work.

Renee Smith, RN, of nursing services at Geisinger, helped coordinate the event and said several speakers throughout the day were touching on lead exposure, pesticides and personal care products, among others.

"We want people to be educated on the topic," she said. "A lot don't know about this."

Afzal told the crowded room of men and women that the Food and Drug Administration lets cosmetic companies put unlimited amounts of chemicals into their personal care products with no requires testing, no monitoring of health effects and inadequate labels.

"Since World War II, more than 80,000 synthetic chemicals have been introduced into our environment," she said. "Amazingly, industry and the federal government have failed to test more than 90 percent of these chemicals for potential links to health impacts."

Pollutants and man-made chemicals, she said, are linked to cancer, declining sperm counts and birth defects.

Pat McLaine, RN, of Johns Hopkins University, spoke to the crowd in the morning on a different toxin: lead.

"The biggest message people are surprised to hear is the older housing is at risk," she said. "... It's something we need to be much more aware of."

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