PSR-LA Ambassador Dr. Robin E. Johnson was recently interviewed by NBC-LA to demonstrate the extremely difficult task of finding phthalates-free products for local mother, Juana Rosa Cavero, and her 10-month-old son, Joaquim. There is a growing body of evidence that shows exposure to toxic chemicals in our homes, workplaces, and communities is having a negative impact on our health.

While being an alert consumer can reduce exposure, it is often very difficult to know what chemicals are in our products. Not all consumers, however, have access to or can afford safer products, which means that better regulation and reform of our chemical laws are needed to protect our health.

In this news piece, Dr. Johnson talks with Juana Rosa , a first-time mother in Los Angeles about making safer choices for personal care products. The most significant challenge in this, however,  happens before the products even reach store shelves. For example, in order to protect “trade secrets”, companies use deceiving and vague title such as fragrance, which we know is a possible indicator of the phthalates.

While being an alert consumer can reduce exposure, many companies are permitted by law to safe guard their chemicals – essentially leaving the consumer with vague and incomplete ingredient lists. Additionally, once alert Not all consumers have access to or can afford safer products. The fair and necessary solution is that better regulation and reform of our chemical laws are needed to protect our health.

See the short video with Dr. Johnson and Juana Rosa below, and learn more about state efforts to require safer products with CHANGE (Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy) and national efforts to fix our broken chemical system with Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

Cross-posted from NBC-LA, “Commonly Used Chemical May Affect Child Development

Household and personal care products could harm the developing brain of babies, a recent study from Columbia University found.

The study found that the higher the levels of phthalates – a chemical added to plastics and lotions to soften the products — in pregnant women, the worse the motor skills and mental development was in the child.

Juana Rosa Cavero takes care to make sure her 10-month-old is safe.

“I try my best. I read up on what I can read, when I go to the store,” said the first-time mother. “I try to make decisions on getting stuff that doesn’t have that many chemicals.”

“The problem with [phthalates] is that it has what we call endocrine disrupting properties,” said obstetrician Dr. Robin Johnson. “It mimics estrogen in the body and so the body confuses it with estrogen.”

Johnson went to Cavero’s home to help her clear it of phthalates. Most of her baby products were fragrance free, so she thought she was in the clear.

However, Johnson suggested they look at her personal care products. It turned out that many of her shampoos, lotions and hair care products were not.

“I’ve done the best I can for him, but now I need to make sure that I do a good job with myself,” said Cavero. “As long as I’m breastfeeding, I have to be careful, especially if I’m going to have more children. I’m going to make better decisions on what I use on myself.”

Phthalates are banned in children’s toys but not in personal care products.

Johnson suggests buying products with simple ingredients or making your own with essential oils.

The Environmental Working Group has a database of cosmetics that they tested for phthalates.

Several groups are working to change chemical laws in California so that phthalates will be better regulated.

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