Pledge to be Toxic-Free

PLEDGE TO BE TOXIC-FREE — We should be able to trust that the products we buy are safe — especially ones our families use every day, directly on our bodies. That’s why we’re calling on major personal care product companies to pledge to go toxic-free.

We should be able to trust that the products we buy are safe — especially ones our families use every day, directly on our bodies. 

We’ve looked into it, however, and discovered that when we shampoo our hair or wash our hands, we’re likely dosing our bodies with chemicals that can disrupt our hormones, cause developmental problems, and even cause cancer.

Daily exposure to chemicals of concern

Companies are allowed to put nearly any chemical they want into the products we use every day, despite the fact that the government doesn’t test those chemicals for safety or require any pre-market approval.  As a result, we’ve seen formaldehyde in baby shampoo, phthalates in cosmetics, and more, as small amounts of chemicals of concern have become far too common in many products. 

Exposure to chemicals is especially a concern when it comes to personal care products — things like hand soap, shampoo, lotion, baby wipes, shaving gel, and toothpaste — because we put them directly on our skin on a regular basis, where they can be absorbed or breathed in. On average, women use about a dozen of these products every day, and men use about six.  In fact, the average person in the U.S. is exposed to more than 100 different chemicals from personal care products before they leave the house every morning.  

Manufacturers also don't have to disclose what chemicals make up a product's "fragrance." This means consumers are left not knowing whether a product contains any of hundreds of chemicals of concern, like phthalates and styrene, because it’s typically claimed as a trade secret. 


Photos by Shutterstock users Lukas Gojda & Monticello. 

These exposures, even in very small amounts, can add up over time, and doctors warn of serious health risks as a result. That’s both dangerous and unnecessary. And this problem is especially urgent for the most vulnerable among us—babies and children—whose bodies are much more susceptible to the doses of chemicals coming from products all around us. There’s no reason we should have to risk our health or that of our children every time we brush our teeth or put on deodorant.

That’s why we’re calling on major personal care product companies to pledge to be toxic-free.

Safe alternatives are possible and profitable

Just about everyone uses personal care products, and no one wants to get cancer—or any of the other negative health effects linked to chemicals in many of these products. So why let companies profit by exposing you to chemicals that aren’t proven safe, when they could make your favorite products without them? 

Consumer demand has already started to move some companies to go toxic-free, and has helped contribute to the growth of an $11 billion safe cosmetics industry. For example, Johnson & Johnson has begun to remove certain chemicals from their products, showing that this is possible and profitable. And The Honest Company, founded on a commitment to make healthy products that don’t contain chemicals of concern, has skyrocketed to a valuation of $1.7 billion within its first three years.  

If enough of us raise our voices, the rest of the industry will follow their lead. Pressure from consumers, public calls for change in the media, and shareholder demands will create the right conditions for major personal care product manufacturers such as Unilever, L’Oreal, and Procter & Gamble to respond by removing toxics from their products and disclosing all ingredients in their fragrances.

We can't afford to wait to take action

Cancer kills. Developmental problems needlessly make lives more difficult. Reproductive dysfunction brings pain and heartbreak. The list goes on. We are all exposed to the invisible threat of toxic chemicals from products in our daily lives, increasing our risk for these devastating illnesses. 

We can immediately reduce the amount of chemicals we carry in our bodies by shopping for products that don’t contain toxic chemicals, but we can only solve the larger problem by getting these chemicals out of the supply chain — and that’s where personal care product manufacturers are in the best place to protect us.

When manufacturers pledge to be toxic-free, we can all rest assured that our favorite products aren’t increasing our risk of cancer, or a host of other life-altering health problems. We will be able to bathe our children and protect them from the sun with the peace of mind that we can trust what’s in our products — and without having to research a laundry list of 7-syllable ingredients. We can eliminate toxic chemicals in personal care products — and have one less thing to worry about when we get ready for the day.

We’re Calling On L’ORÉAL To Go Toxic-Free

U.S. PIRG, along with other Consumer, public health, and environmental groups across the country are urging L’Oréal to disclose all of its fragrance ingredients, as well as remove carcinogens and other chemicals linked to health problems from its cosmetic products.

Together, we can make personal care products without dangerous chemicals the industry standard. Thanks to our previous work earlier this year, popular personal care product maker Unilever, which owns brands like Dove and Caress, made a bold move to announce that it would disclose most of its fragrance ingredients by 2018.

Join more than 150,000 Americans in calling on L’Oréal to pledge to be toxic-free.

Issue updates

News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

Johnson & Johnson commits to disclose fragrance ingredients in baby products by August 1

J&J said it intends to disclose 100 percent of the ingredients in its babycare products next month.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

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Congress Should Reject Pesticide-Laden Farm Bill

Today, Congress again considers a dirty Farm Bill that would undermine protections for clean water, sustainable farming, and our health.

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Toxic triclosan in toothpaste? | Dev Gowda

A recent article in the LA Times revealed that a new study found that the toxic compound triclosan, which is commonly found in toothpaste as well as other consumer products such as cosmetics, children’s toys, and yoga mats, “could cause adverse effects on colonic inflammation and colon cancer.”

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

L'Oréal commits to disclose fragrance ingredients

We applaud L'Oréal, the manufacturer behind popular brands like Garnier, Maybelline, and numerous perfumes and colognes, for its commitment today to tell customers the ingredients in its product line. But L'Oréal needs to set a timeline to disclose its ingredients. Customers deserve to know what ingredients we are using, because "we’re worth it."

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Grieving parents & health advocates urge Lowe’s to pull deadly paint strippers from store shelves

U.S. PIRG Education Fund joins Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, and the Natural Resources Defense Council in calling on Lowe’s to stop selling paint strippers made with methylene chloride and the chemical NMP.

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More Info On Our Testing Methodology for Asbestos in Makeup

Claire’s Stores Inc. incorrectly claims that our testing methods are unsound. Its accusations are misinformed at best, and seem to be designed to distract from the bottom-line: that Claire’s is selling makeup that contains asbestos to preteens.

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2016 Shows First Decline In Antibiotics Sales For Livestock, Following Numerous Commitments From Restaurants And Food Companies

Today, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its annual report of antibiotics sales for livestock and poultry, showing the first decline in year-to-year sales since recording began. Overall, sales of medically important antibiotics to food animals decreased by 14 percent from 2015 through 2016.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Target Removes Lead-Laden Fidget Spinners from Store Shelves

Today, Target announced that it will be removing two fidget spinner models that contain well over the legal limit of lead for children’s toys from its store shelves. Target had initially balked at our request to do so, citing a Consumer Product Safety Commission rule stating that general use products directed at adults don’t need to follow the same lead guidelines as children’s products directed at children 12 and under. These two models of fidget spinners, the Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Brass and the Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Metal, were labeled for ages 14 and up.

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Progress in 2015 and hope for the new year | Anya Vanecek

This was a big year for the fight to save antibiotics. Now we’re looking to the future and looking forward to continuing our efforts to stop the overuse of antibiotics in factory farming.

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All I want for Christmas is responsibly-raised meat. | Anya Vanecek

I don't want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need...

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It keeps getting better | Steve Blackledge

By next summer, all of the chicken served on Papa John's pizzas and poppers will be raised without antibiotics. The pizza chain's announcement adds them to a growing list of restaurants that are helping to stop the overuse antibiotics on large industrial farms.

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Predictable Problems in the FDA Annual Report | Bill Wenzel

Not only did the FDA’s voluntary Guidance for Industry #213 not lower the sale and use of antibiotics for food-producing animals, these sales actually increased 4%.

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The Phantom, and Other Menaces | Anya Vanecek

In the midst of warnings that the post-antibiotic era is quickly approaching, we see evidence that it has already arrived.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Just seven weeks after Tyson Foods recalled chicken nuggets that could contain rubber, the poultry giant is recalling chicken strips that might contain metal. 

News Release | TexPIRG

Reacting to pervasive lead contamination in schools’ drinking water, Environment Texas and TexPIRG gave Texas an F grade today for addressing the problem, according to a new national report. The group announced support for legislation by Rep. James Talarico to ensure lead-free water in Texas schools and daycares.

“Schools should be safe places for our kids to learn and play, but Texas is still failing to protect our kids from lead in drinking water,” said Bay Scoggin, Director of the Texas Public Interest Research Group(TexPIRG). “We need policies that actually get the lead out of faucets and fountains in our schools and pre-schools.”

Report | TexPIRG

Over the past five years, the tragedy of Flint, Michigan has stunned the nation. We watched the drinking water of an entire city become contaminated with lead. And, we know now that this toxic threat extends well beyond Flint to communities across the country.

In fact, test results now show that lead is even contaminating drinking water in schools and pre-schools — flowing from thousands of fountains and faucets where our kids drink water every day.

In all likelihood, the confirmed cases of lead in schools’ water are just the tip of the iceberg. Most schools have at least some lead in their pipes, plumbing, or fixtures. And where there is lead, there is risk of contamination.1

The health threat of lead in schools’ water deserves immediate attention from state and local policymakers for two reasons. First, lead is highly toxic and especially damaging to children — impairing how they learn, grow, and behave. So, we ought to be particularly vigilant against this health threat at schools and pre-schools, where our children spend their days learning and playing.

Second, current regulations are too weak to protect our children from lead-laden water at school. Federal rules only apply to the roughly ten percent of schools and pre-schools that are considered to be their own Public Water Systems.2 At schools not considered to be a Public Water System, there is no federal rule protecting kids from exposure to lead in schools’ drinking water. While the latest edition of the EPA’s 3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools and Child Care Centers recommends that schools reduce lead to the “lowest possible concentration,” unless a state’s law directs schools to adhere to it, this guidance is not enforceable.3 Moreover, even when federal rules do apply to a school, they only require remediation when testing confirms lead concentrations in excess of 15 parts per billion at ten percent or more of taps sampled, even though medical and public health experts agree that there is no safe level of lead for our children.4 The error of this approach is compounded by the fact that testing, even when properly done, often fails to detect maximum lead levels in water coming out of the tap.

Unfortunately, so far, most states are failing to protect children from lead in schools’ drinking water. Our review of 32 states’ laws and regulations finds:

Several states, including Texas, have no requirements for schools and pre-schools to address the threat of lead in drinking water.

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