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Your Environment. Your Health.

Chemicals in Personal Care Products

Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)

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Chemicals in Personal Care Products

September 14th, 2014

Experts: Kyla Taylor, Ruthann Rudel

The average American woman uses 12 personal care products a day and men average six products daily. But have you ever read the list of ingredients on your soap, toothpaste, hair products, or cosmetics? This podcast takes a look at some common chemicals found in personal care products and highlights new research about how they might affect our health. Plus, we discuss tips to limit exposure and find safer product alternatives.


Kyla Taylor

Kyla Taylor is a health scientist in the National Toxicology Program at NIEHS. She works on the NIEHS Sister Study to research exposure patterns of personal care product use and the association with breast cancer and associated risk factors. Taylor earned her M.S. in Population Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a student she worked as a research assistant at the Population Health Institute and was first author of the annual Wisconsin County Health Rankings in 2008 and a co-author in 2007. Taylor is currently a Ph.D. student in Epidemiology at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Ruthann Rudel

Ruthann Rudel is director of research at Silent Spring Institute, a community based breast cancer research organization funded in part by NIEHS. In this role, she directs exposure and toxicology research programs focusing on endocrine active chemicals and on mechanisms by which chemicals may influence breast cancer risk. She leads Silent Spring Institute’s Household Exposure Study, a comprehensive analysis of in home exposures. Major contributions of the study include identifying previously unrecognized sources of ongoing PCB exposures in homes and the discovery that PBDE exposures are higher in California due to unique furniture flammability standards. She has an appointment as a Research Associate in the Brown University Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and has served on the U.S. National Toxicology Program Board of Scientific Counselors and the Regulatory Affairs and Legislative Assistance Committee of the Society of Toxicology. She earned her M.S. in environmental management and policy from Tufts University.

For More Information

Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Cosmetics Database
Look up a product or ingredient to find health information about the chemicals in more than 69,000 personal care products.

Silent Spring Institute: In Your Personal Care
Get tips to reduce your exposure to chemicals in personal care products from this website maintained by the Silent Spring Institute.

Read about the HERMOSA Study, a community-based study to investigate and reduce exposure to chemicals in personal care products in a population of teenage girls. Or, see the HERMOSA Educational Materials to find safer alternatives to the cosmetic products you use.

The Sister Study
Learn about this NIEHS study that involves more than 50,000 women to investigate the causes of breast cancer.

Endocrine Disruptors
Learn more about endocrine disruptors and what NIEHS is doing to understand how these chemicals affect health.

Podcast: Environmental Health in the Nail Salon
Listen to this episode of Environmental Health Chat to learn about the potentially harmful exposures experienced by workers and customers in nail salons.

Beauty Products and Cancer: Know the Facts
Get health information about ingredients in common beauty products in this factsheet from the National Cancer Institute.

Legislation: California Enacts Safe Cosmetics Act
Read in Environmental Health Perspectives about the California Safe Cosmetics Act, which requires manufacturers to report the use of potentially hazardous ingredients in personal care products.

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