Wednesday, March 19, 2008

OCA Discovers Carcinogen In "Green" Products

Bad and Good news...
The Bad : Half the "green" care products tested by the Organic Consumers Association came up positive for a known carcinogen called 1,4 Dioxane, which caused cancer in laboratory rats and is declared hazardous to humans by the EPA. The tricky part has been that labeling laws for natural products really aren't that strict- neither for the claim to be "natural" and "green" or for the ingredients involved if they are present in low enough amounts. Sadly some of these companies being ratted out are huge well respected Green Companies that have literally spear headed the organic care products industry. Seventh Generation (GASP!), JASON (no!), Kiss My Face (OMG!), Nature's Gate (tears), Method (go figure) and Alba (suck!) are among some of the companies who had products containing the chemical, which those who conducted the testing said is "barbaric" to have done in this day and age. Now not every single product these companies make contains 1,4 dioxane but some of their products definitely do, so it may be safer to find those products who are truly certified organic.
The Good: You won't be lathering your head and dishes with 1,4 Dioxane anymore! And that is good news. I used Nature's Gate shampoo for nearly 10 years in a row so I know first hand how dedicated we are to our fav organic care product. It's best to be informed and glad the cat is out of the faux "green" bag. (Although I'm shedding major tears for Seventh Generation who may be sued by OCA and Dr Bronners.) There are still safe and certified organic care products out there, and you can search this data base to select the most safe care products. TerrEssentials, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, Nourish, Aubrey Organics, Burt's Bees, Desert Essence, Dr. Hauschka, EO, Zia Fresh, and Avalon Organics were all given two thumbs up on safety, since they are certified organic by the USDA under the same regulations as food. The OCA also gives this 3 step advice for choosing products that are chemical free :
1) Opt for products with the organic seal, 2) Avoid products with these suffixes or words in their ingredient list: myreth, oleth, laureth, ceteareth, any other eth, PEG, polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, polyoxyethylene, or oxynol, and 3) Avoid products with unpronounceable ingredients in general.
This advice is technically good, but probably you were already perusing the labels that way. If you are really hardcore (as I am) you can write out the list and bring it to your local Health Food Grocery to be certain which chemicals to avoid.
For more details (like what happened to the lab rats) on this study check out the LA Times Article here:,1,6535224.story?track=rss .


Nickcoelodeon said...

I'm going one step further. I'm going to bring my own box of lab rats to test on at the grocery before purchasing items!

Chrystie said...

Hi Leslie,

Seventh Generation is very concerned about ingredient disclosure and transparency, and we applaud the Organic Consumer Association’s (OCA) recent research efforts to educate consumers about the safety of personal care and home cleaning products. It is important for consumers to know that Seventh Generation’s dish liquid, which does contain a minute amount of the ethoxylate 1,4-dioxane, is deemed safe according to the FDA’s and our own strict guidelines.

We are committed to eliminating all harmful chemicals from household cleaning products. Consistent with our core mission, we have worked with surfactant manufacturers for many years to reduce levels of 1,4-dixoane in ethoxylated surfactants and it is our intent to completely eliminate 1,4-dioxane from all of our products.

We share the OCA’s concerns about the misuse of terms such as “organic” and “natural” and the lack of disclosure requirements. We have championed this cause and have led the market for twenty years. We also believe that the decision to stop using conventional synthetic chemical cleaners is one of the most important ones you’ll ever make for the health of your family and the safety of your home. While our products are not perfect today, we will continue to improve them and are confident that they are a much better and safer choice than traditional cleaning products.

For more information about Seventh Generation's commitment to consumers, please visit our 7th Gen blog!.

Again, thank you for keeping your audience informed.

Chrystie Heimert, Seventh Generation

The Oko Box said...

thank you to Seventh generation for making a comment about their products. I am a dedicated S.G. recycled paper product user, it's the only toilet paper i'll wipe with! :) I think that it is cool that consumers can learn about these concerns from the companies themselves & the OCA, and that Seventh Generation is willing to keep striving for more natural & efficient products. We all hope that the 1,4 Dioxane can be eliminated, even in it's tiny amounts.