Looks like Old Spice Guy could have some explaining to do. The Environmental Working Group’s searchable consumer product review database has information for over 90 Old Spice products. I randomly selected one product called Old Spice Deodorant Stick, Fresh. It is rated 4 on a scale of 1 to 10, which indicates a moderate hazard level on their scale. (A 10 rating is the the most hazardous). Why would a deodorant be considered moderately hazardous? Researchers for the online database say studies have shown possible health effects for the ingredients in the product. Their Old Spice Deodorant Stick, Fresh product profile says ingredients in the deodorant could have a connection to cancer, developmental/reproductive toxicity, allergies/immunotoxicity organ system toxicity, endocrine disruption, and irritation to eyes, lungs and skin. The ingredients listed for the product are Triclosan, SD Alcohol 40, Propylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol, Tetrasodium EDTA, D&C Green 5, Sodium Stearate, and water.
Triclosan has a rating on their scale of 7/10. The US Food and Drug Administration is currently reviewing the safety of the chemical, “We are engaged in an ongoing scientific and regulatory review of the safety of Triclosan in FDA-regulated products.” Last year the European Union’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Products stated, “the continued use of Triclosan as a preservative at the current concentration limit of maximum 0.3 percent in all cosmetic products is not safe for the consumer because of the magnitude of the aggregate exposure.” They also said the use of the chemical in toothpaste, soap, deodorant, and face powder is safe, which sounds quite contradictory. If a chemical accumulates in the body significantly why take the risk of using it, when it not known to be safe or unsafe?
The Environmental Working Group’s analysis is less ambiguous, “Triclosan persists in the environment, breaks down into substances highly toxic to wildlife, pollutes the human body, and poses health risks that are barely studied and poorly understood.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency first registered Triclosan as a pesticide in 1969. It is also used on “conveyor belts, fire hoses, dye bath vats, and ice-making equipment.” Other products it is used in are adhesives, fabrics, vinyl, plastics, floor wax emulsions, caulking compounds, sealants, rubber, and carpeting.
The American Medical Association commented about Triclosan, “Considering the available data and the critical nature of the antibiotic resistance problem, it may be prudent to avoid the use of antimicrobial agents in consumer products.”
An Australian government report commented about the potential harm Triclosan can cause to the environment, “The widespread use of triclosan provides a number of pathways for the chemical to enter the environment, and laboratory tests have shown it to be toxic to aquatic species, with algae being the most sensitive species.”
In the U.S., researchers in Minnesota analyzed sediment samples containing Triclosan from an area of the Mississippi River known to be impacted by wastewater. (Triclosan as noted above can enter the environment a number of ways; one is municipal water systems.) The reason they were studying the river sediment was to see if Triclosan persists in the environment after it is released there. They observed the already confirmed tendency for Triclosan to transform to a type of dioxin when it is in aquatic environments and in the prescence of sunlight, “2,8-DCDD was detected at levels that trended with the historical use of Triclosan since its introduction in the 1960s.”
Triclosan is just one of the ingredients in one of the Old Spice products listed. What happens when the human body absorbs all the chemicals in one deodorant over a period of time is unknown. Old Spice is not even the most toxic deodorant listed on the site. After Hours, another type of deodorant, has a rating of 7/10. This product is reported to contain Diethyl Phalate, which EWG says is a “known human immune system toxicant” and there is strong evidence it is a human endocrine disruptor.
Heavy marketing by companies such as Old Spice, do a good job of convincing us that we need their deodorant and body wash products. However many of these products actually disrupt our body’s natural ability to clean itself. Care2 recently published some information about alternatives to common deodorants.
So, Old Spice Guy, I am not buying your products, and I am not including your viral marketing videos in my article. I don’t care if viral marketing campaigns, or TV ads are entertaining. Common sense, science and a little Internet research are far better for assisting with consumer decision-making.
Image Credit: SMercury