Monday, August 06, 2007

The Skin Deep Database:
A Resource Every Family Should Know About

In my last post I discussed how INSANE it is that the government doesn't require cosmetics products like baby shampoo to be tested for safety before they are sold to the public. It makes me feel mad and helpless not to know for sure if the products my family is using will cause us cancer 10, 20 or 30 years down the line.

Many of you who commented agreed that this is scary and wrong. Luckily, as a few savvy commenters pointed out, there is an excellent online resource that can help families make somewhat educated decisions about how to find safe body care products.

It's called the Skin Deep Database.

I heard about it a few months ago and have been obsessed with it ever since. Obsessed in a good way. I didn't mention it in my last post because I didn't want it to get lost in my rantings. I wanted to dedicate an entire post to this awesomest of resources.

So what is the Skin Deep Database and why should you go visit it today?

The database is a resource of the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit health advocacy organization. Basically, what they've done is entered hazard data from 50 toxicity and regulatory databases and then entered the individual ingredients of thousands of personal care products in order to produce reports on the safety of the products. As far as I know, this database provides consumers with the only way to help assess the safety of cosmetics products.

Using the database is easy. Just go to the start page and enter in a product name in the search engine. The database will bring up a comprehensive report on the product, including a hazard score (1-10 with 10 being the most hazardous) and a data gap score. It will also provide a hazard score for every single ingredient in the product and tell you what type of hazards the ingredients may present (e.g., cancer, reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, etc.)

(Note that one the caveats in talking about this is that there are many ingredients for which no studies have been conducted. Therefore, we really don't know for sure whether they are safe. The hazard score does not take into account the data gaps, but the data gap percentage will give you a sense of how much of the safety of the product cannot be accurately assessed due to lack of scientific studies.)

Now, where did my aforementioned obsession with this database begin? Well, once I started searching the database for the products that I use regularly I realized that most of the commerical products out either not the safest or downright toxic. I also quickly realized that it's not enough to find a product that sells itself as "all natural" or even "organic" and feel completely safe buying it.

I now feel compelled to enter every single item that I plan to purchase in this database before I buy it. Even though EWG cannot guarantee the safety of any products (especially due to the large gaps in data) the database is a great tool to educate consumers about which products they might want to avoid.

Have I convinced you to check this out yet?

Go now!

And if you know of other resources like this for household products etc., let me know in the comments. I feel that we need to help each other by passing along this kind of information. Because, really, who else is going look out for us if we don't look out for each other?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

AWESOME site! Thanks for the link.

11:54 AM  
Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Holy friggin crap! My kids baby bath wash was a 5!!! Frack!

(Thanks for the site. Now off to find new soap....)

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent. Thanks for the info.

2:04 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I saw your last post and now I'm alarmed. Need to check out your link asap.

7:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes! I've blogged about this site a few times too. It's really great, and I don't buy a thing without checking this website first!

7:24 PM  
Blogger Debbie said...

holy damn. I know we should've explored this topic more on Friday at the Farmer's yumminess place, but -- there was just too much to say in so little time. this is a good post, tho, C. it's so damn important.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Momma of 2 said...

I think I'm gonna tear thru my house now and look up everything!
thanks for the info and love the site :)

12:23 PM  
Blogger Oh Baby Gifts said...

Great find you got there. Behold the power of the internet! :)

12:34 PM  
Blogger karengreeners said...

pretty scary huh? I like to joke that a good rule of thumb is just to stay away from anything that proctor & gamble or johnson & johnson make. That's half the list right there.

5:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow that is an amazing database.
Sometimes I wonder if ignorance is bliss. Not to say I want my kids to have cancer, however there is only so much information, so many choices, etc before we are living in constant fear. We definitely need to lobby the government to take more prudent action to prevent these products form containing cancer causing ingredients.

8:07 AM  
Blogger LTYM said...

This has been my latest concern, too, and I've thrown out most of our family's shampoo over the past few weeks. It's probably safer to wash your kids' hair with Dawn. Yikes.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Damselfly said...

Oh, I love that site! I have it bookmarked. I agree, we should all know what's in the stuff we're putting on and in our bodies.

2:14 PM  

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