By Dan Shapley
On household and personal care products, "non-toxic" and "environmentally friendly" are virtually meaningless labels. Learning to decipher the meaning of the ingredients on those labels -- and some that aren't even listed -- is the key for consumers trying to avoid certain chemicals, especially those now under scientific scrutiny, but not regulated by the government, according to USA Today.
Here are some tips from the article:
- Avoid products that list "parabens" as an ingredient on shampoos, conditioners and other personal care products. Some studies suggest these chemicals affect the reproductive and hormonal systems in animal tests.
- Avoid products that list "sodium laurel/laureth sulfate" as an ingredient, because it contains a carcinogenic compound.
- Avoid anything with a "danger" or "warning" label, since it has stronger chemicals.
- Be wary of the term "fragrance," which is used to denote a combination of compounds, possibly including phthatates, which are a subject of recent concern because of studies showing they can mimic certain hormones.
- Choose sunscreens made with zinc or titanium.
- Choose plastics with the recycling code 1, 2 or 5. Recycling codes 3 and 7 are more likely to contain bisphenol A or phthalates, both suspected of disrupting the hormonal system.