How Can There be Toxic Chemicals in Certain Products?

How Can There be Toxic Chemicals in Certain Products?

People often look at me a bit confused when I start talking about toxic chemicals found in our consumer products. The first question most people ask is: “Isn’t someone checking these products for safety before they end up in the store?”

You would think so…



I am grateful for those in the business community, like The Honest Company, that are doing their best to make products free of questionable, toxic chemicals.  That is why Honest is a valued member of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition—together we’re working to pass stronger laws in Washington, D.C. to protect our families from toxic chemicals.

The Honest January theme is “New Year, New You!,” which I find particularly inspiring for kicking off 2013. I’d like to riff off of that theme and say that it’s a New Year and we need new laws!

Here’s the problem

Under current federal law chemicals used in the products in our homes and workplaces don’t have to be tested for their health and safety. The result?

Many of the products in our homes contain toxic (or untested) chemicals.

Just how broken are our laws?

Let’s look at the numbers:

  • Since 1976, more than 80,000 chemicals have been produced and used in the U.S.
  • In these 37 years, the EPA has required testing on just over 200 of the 62,000 chemicals that were “grandfathered” in under the law.
  • Only 5 chemicals have been restricted.
  • The EPA tried to regulate asbestos over 20 years ago and couldn’t under our existing laws.

If the United States can’t ban asbestos, our regulatory system is obviously broken.

What does this mean for our health?

It goes without saying that exposure to toxic chemicals isn’t good for our health. At Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families we work with some of the world’s leading scientists to help us understand what the link is between the rise in childhood cancer, learning and developmental disabilities, infertility, early puberty and toxic chemicals.

We recently published a report called Chemicals and our Health: Why science calls us to action. This is a great summary of what the best science says about the links between toxic chemicals and rising adverse health trends.

What kinds of chemicals are we talking about?

A class of chemicals you may have heard of, called phthalates, are commonly found in our homes and consumer products. The American Academy of Pediatrics found that many children are exposed to this class of toxic chemicals through shampoos, lotions, and other products. Exposure to these hormone-disrupting chemicals has been linked to various adverse health outcomes including: deformities to the male reproductive system, lower sperm count, and damage to the liver, kidney and other organs.

To put it simply, we have a huge opportunity to prevent some of these health problems, by simply ensuring chemicals are safe before they enter our homes and bodies. Make sense doesn’t it?

What can YOU do now?

By joining Jessica Alba,, and millions of other Americans, you can tell Congress we want protections from toxic chemicals. Take a moment to send a letter to your Senators here—it is quick, effective, and your voice matters!

And check out our tips to protect your family from toxic chemicals.

Follow Safer Chemicals on Twitter: @SaferChemicals.

~ Lindsay Dahl, Deputy Director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families

We aim to provide you with the most honest and credible information possible. This article was reviewed for accuracy by The Honest Team and was written based on trusted sources that are linked at the bottom of the article.