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Buyer Beware of Organic Labels

Buyer Beware of Organic Labels

A few years ago I was in Shanghai, and I bought my wife a “Louis Vuitton” purse from a street vendor for an incredibly low price. She loved it, and it disintegrated after about three uses. She and I weren’t too surprised or disappointed by this because we suspected it wasn’t an authentic Louis Vuitton purse.

We would both be surprised and upset if we found out products labeled as “organic” or “natural” contained carcinogens and petrochemicals, but this is exactly was a recent study commissioned by the Organic Consumers Association found.

The study found that many personal care products labeled as organic or natural including shampoos, body washes and lotions contain a chemical called 1,4-Dioxane. The 1,4-Dioxane is present as a byproduct of a petrochemical called Ethylene Oxide that is added to the products.

1,4-Dioxane is a bad actor. It is listed by the California Environmental Protection Agency as a carcinogen and is a suspected kidney toxin, neurotoxin and respiratory toxic. Nothing about 1,4-Dioxane or Ethylene Oxide is organic or natural for us.

Don’t assume that products labeled just as organic or natural are always healthier choices. You still need to check the ingredients on the product labels. As a rule of thumb, if you can’t pronounce the name of the ingredient, it’s probably not too organic or natural. According to OCA, you should avoid products with words including “myreth,” “oleth,” “laureth,” “ceteareth,” any other “eth,” “PEG,” “polyethylene,” “polyethylene glycol,” “polyoxyethylene,” or “oxynol.”

A much easier way is to look for products that have been certified organic under the USDA National Organic Program or the German Natural “BDIH” Program. None of the products tested in the OCA study with these certifications contained 1,4-Dioxane.

To get the full story and a list of products that did and did not contain 1,4-Dioxane, go here.

Despite this study, you shouldn’t assume that all personal care products labeled as organic or natural are not healthier choices either. Some of them are fine. On that same trip to Shanghai, I also bought a “Prada” purse for a great low price. It is still in great condition after nearly three years and lots of uses.

Read more: Blogs, Health & Safety, Holistic Beauty, Safe Sweet Home, , , , ,

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Andrew Peterson

Andrew Peterson is a Certified Industrial Hygienist with over 10 years of experience working in the environmental and occupational health field. In addition to writing, he is currently the Environment, Health and Safety Manager for a medium-sized company that has been voted one of Fortune Magazine’s Best Places to Work For and one of CRO Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens. He lives in California with his wife and adopted pound puppy.

28 comments

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12:27AM PST on Feb 6, 2013

Nice,thanks

1:36PM PDT on Oct 29, 2012

If the product is grown in an area where the air, soil and water are POLLUTEd, organic means NOTHING

12:49PM PDT on Sep 12, 2011

Thank you

3:25AM PDT on Sep 6, 2011

caveat emptor

3:15AM PDT on Sep 6, 2011

The only way that I trust a food is organic is if I grow it myself. Now I know not everyone can. (sad)

6:46AM PST on Mar 2, 2011

Forgive me ... I have so little time, so I am just here for points for the animals ...

3:09AM PDT on Jun 28, 2010

Thanks

2:36PM PDT on Aug 14, 2008

The best is sometimes to make your own with natural stuff. For example, my wife made some great tooth powder, with baking soda, sea salt and a few drops of (real) mint oil.

She also uses vinegar for cleaning, and baking soda for other things.

1:57AM PDT on Aug 6, 2008

I HAVE BECOME VERY WARY OF ALL THE CLAIMS
THAT STICK OUT ON LABELS, THESE DAYS. THERE
IS TOO MUCH "JUMPING ON THE BAND-WAGON" GOING. OH, ONE OTHER THING, THERE SHOULD BE A SCHOOL TO TEACH SHELF STOCKERS WHERE TO "STICK THEIR LABELS!" VIOLET y.

12:06AM PDT on Jul 27, 2008

The problem is that most of us scientist-fielded types CAN pronounce those words, so now what? LOL! The thing is, is that as the world evolves and technology increases we're just going to be learning more and more about products we've always used and/or consumed. The fact remains that we are individuals, what harms one person may have no effect on another. If we continue at this paranoid rate pretty soon we won't be using or doing anything with our lives. However, sitting and doing nothing is also bad for our health, so who knows how we'll survive!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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