Photo courtesy Jessica Assaf.
by A.K. Streeter, Portland, Oregon
Consumers are usually the last to know the important information about the products we are using. Take cleaning supplies - many still don't clearly specify which exact ingredients are harmful and in what amounts they are used. And organic labels may be reassuring on food products, but sometimes they don''t tell the whole story about small amounts of "hidden" unorganic ingredients. And what about GMOs? Consumers have said they want labeling of GMO-containing products for years, to no avail. So one shopper took matters in to her own hands.
New York University student Jessica Assaf created stickers to educate consumers about the toxic ingredients found in many cosmetics and personal care products.
Assaf targetted Secret because it is one of the most popular deodorants used by young women in the United States today, she said. According to the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep, Secret has some not-so-savory secret ingredients, such as butane, associated with allergies and immunotoxicity, and aluminium chlorohydrate, linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity. And overall, Secret's rating (a "6" out of "10") is fairly high compared to the hundreds of other deodorants in the EWG database. (Salt crystal deodorants score best.)
So Assaf went around to some drugstores in her area and stuck toxic warning labels on 100 Secret bottles.
"I believe that consumers should know the truth about the ingredients in their everyday products. This is a completely unregulated industry, and most people do not know that cosmetic companies can put any chemical in their products and with no labeling requirements or safety testing, sell these toxic products to the public. I'm not going to wait for legislation to protect our health because we don't have any time to wait. These chemicals are accumulating in our bodies and no one is stepping up to stop it,"says Assaf.
Assaf said she will target personal care products with these stealth labels until the Federal Drug Administration begins to more closely regulated the personal care products industry. She is also working on a documentary about the issues called Body Burden.