Hidden Chemicals in Consumer Products: What's Not on the Label

June 28, 2012
1:00 pm US Eastern Time

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Health-conscious consumers often pore over product labels trying to avoid certain ingredients. But those labels can be incomplete. A new Silent Spring Institute study  shows that everyday products contain a wide range of potentially harmful chemicals, including many that are not listed on product labels. The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives, marks the largest investigation that actually tested the products themselves for the presence of many suspect chemicals. All 50 different categories of conventional products contained some target chemicals. And the majority of the “alternative” products—marketed for having safer ingredients than their conventional counterparts—also contained chemicals of concern. Investigators tested products for the presence of hormone disruptors that raise concerns for breast cancer, growth, and reproduction, as well as chemicals associated with asthma. CHE-Alaska hosted Robin Dodson, ScD, lead author of the study, for a discussion of the study's findings and how you can reduce exposures.

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Robin Dodson, ScD, is a research scientist at Silent Spring Institute, a nonprofit scientific research organization that focuses on the environment and women’s health. Her research centers on developing novel residential exposure measurement methods for epidemiological studies and analyzing household exposure data. She currently oversees the Institute’s consumer product exposure research. She also holds an appointment at Harvard School of Public Health as a visiting scientist and as a lecturer at Brandeis University. Dr. Dodson received her doctorate in Environmental Health in 2007 and her master’s in Environmental Science and Risk Management in 2004 from Harvard School of Public Health.