The Hazardous 100+

Chemicals in consumer products

Organotins

Organotins have been widely used as pesticides and plastics additives. Some are highly toxic to aquatic life or known hormone disruptors.
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Organotins, Charge: Hormone Disruption

Avoid products made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl) plastic. Safer alternatives to vinyl building products can be found at the Healthy Building Network. PVC-free products for your school and home have been identified by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice.

Minimize your use of other plastic and foam products, when practicable.

NPEs

NPEs are still widely used in household paints, clothing and certain cleaners even though they have been phased out in laundry detergent.
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NPE, Charge: Hormone Disruption

NPEs are rarely listed as an ingredient on a product label. Since NPEs are widely used in large amounts in virtually all household paints, you should ask paint manufacturers to reformulate with safer alternatives.

Wash new clothes before you wear them to reduce exposure to NPEs in your home. (NPEs still need to be phased out of textile processing to protect the environment).

Avoid the specific cleaners and stain removers that contain NPEs, as reported to the State of Maine by consumer product manufacturers.

Reduce reliance on toys and games that use synthetic rubber, plastics and foams. Search the State of Washington database for specific children’s products that contain NPEs.

Urge Gap Inc. and other members of the footwear and apparel industry coalition to achieve their goal of zero discharge of hazardous chemicals, including NPEs, by 2020.

Don’t use pesticides inside your home. Avoid buying food packaged in plastics whenever practicable.

Triclosan

This pesticide is found in products like toothpaste, cutting boards, yoga mats, hand soap, and cosmetics. It is a hormone disruptor and encourages the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.
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Triclosan, Charge: hormone disruption

Check the label: avoid products with the words triclosan and triclocarban on the ingredient labels of personal care products, soaps and hand sanitizers. Triclosan may also marketed under the trade name Microban™ when used in plastics and clothing, and Biofresh™ when used in acrylic fibers.

Be wary of products like cutting boards that are labeled as "anti-microbial" or "anti-bacterial."

Stick to washing your hands with hot water and soap and alcohol based hand sanitizers when on the go.

PFCs

PFCs are a class of carcinogenic chemicals used to repel oil and water from clothing, carpeting, furniture, food packaging, and non-stick surfaces on cookware.
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PFCs, Charge: causing cancer

Avoid stain-resistance treatments. Choose furniture and carpets that aren’t marketed as “stain-resistant,” and don’t apply finishing treatments such as Stainmaster®.

Choose clothing that doesn’t carry Teflon™ or Scotchgard™ tags. This includes fabric labeled stain- or water-repellent. When possible, opt for untreated cotton and wool. Check out this guide to greener rain gear.

Replace your non-stick cookware with stainless steel. If you choose to continue using non-stick cookware, be very careful not to let it heat to above 450ºF. Discard products if non-stick coatings show signs of deterioration.

Stay away from greasy or oily packaged and fast foods, as the packages often contain grease-repellent coatings. Examples include microwave popcorn bags, french fry boxes, and pizza boxes.

PFCs can be found in dental floss and a variety of cosmetics, including nail polish, facial moisturizers, and eye make-up. Steer clear of personal care products made with Teflon™ or containing ingredients that include the words "fluoro" or "perfluoro."

Heavy Metals

Exposure to toxic metals in air, water, toys, electronics, jewelry, and other products have been linked to cancer, developmental disorders, and other health problems and diseases.
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Heavy Metals, Charge: causing cancer

Visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission Website and search for toys and other products that have been recalled because of lead and other safety reasons.

Get rid of cheap children's jewelry and avoid buying new pieces because so many items are loaded with toxic lead and cadmium.

Labeling laws in some states may aid you in identifying which products contain certain toxic metals like mercury.

Refer to Greenpeace's Guide to Greener Electronics, which evaluates companies on efforts to remove toxics from their products, as well as on climate impacts and recycling.

Ask retailers and toymakers how they ensure their manufacturers have adhered to high standards. Use your purchasing power to support companies or products that are moving in the right direction.

Styrene

This petroleum by-product is used to make Styrofoam™, plastics, rubber, and resins. It can put people at increased risk for cancer and other diseases.
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Styrene, Charge: neurotoxic effects

Avoid Styrofoam cups and containers, which are usually labeled with the number 6 recycling logo.

When shopping for groceries, select items that are unwrapped, or wrapped in non-polystyrene materials.

Phthalates

Chemicals linked to low testosterone, birth defects and cancer are used to soften vinyl plastic and can be found in products like school supplies and flooring.
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Phthalates, Charge: Birth defects

Phthalates are found in most soft vinyl (PVC) products. Unfortunately, you can't tell if there are phthalates in personal care products without laboratory testing. If the label says "fragrance," it may have phthalates. To learn whether there are phthalates in your flooring, shower curtains, childrens’ lunchboxes, or other products, ask the manufacturer.

Parabens

Parabens have been identified as endocrine disruptors by the EU, Maine and Washington. They mimic the hormones that control functions like growth and sexual development.
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Parabens, Charge: Hormone Disruption

To find products with parabens, look for any ingredient on the label that ends with "paraben"). Some products that may contain parabens include cosmetics, sunscreen, shampoo, conditioner and hair styling gel.

Flame retardants

Chemicals linked to cancer and damage to reproductive and nervous systems are lurking in couches, mattresses, electronics, appliances, and more.
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Flame Retardants, Charge: Reproductive Damage

Flame retardants are often added to foam cushions in couches, chairs and mats; to plastics used in electronics and other products; and in foam insulation. Ask manufacturers to learn whether flame retardants are present in a particular product.

BPA/BPS

These notorious hormone disrupting chemicals are found in polycarbonate plastics, garden hoses, food can linings, cash register receipts—and unfortunately—in our bodies.
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BPA/BPS, Charge: Hormone Disruption

Bisphenol A (BPA) is found in polycarbonate plastic—usually marked with recycling symbol No. 7 and “PC”. Not all No. 7 plastic contains BPA, so look for products specifically labeled as "BPA-free." Most canned foods and metal jar lids have BPA-based linings, unless the company has indicated otherwise, and are thought to be a major source of current BPA exposure.

Bisphenol S (BPS) is found in some thermal paper cash register receipts, and appears to have similar health risks as BPA.

Formaldehyde

This known cancer-causing chemical is still used to produce building materials, clothing, cosmetics, and many household products.
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Formaldehyde, Charge: Cancer-causing

Many products release formaldehyde. To find personal care products with formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, look for DMDM Hydantoin, Quaternium 15 or Bronopol on the ingredients label. Formaldehyde is also commonly released from resins used in building materials, and on wrinkle-free clothing and linens.

* The Hazardous 100+ list was updated on September 20, 2013 to reflect the European Union's naming of additional chemicals to the "Candidate List of Substances of Very High Concern for Authorisation." As a result, one chemical class was added to the Hazardous 100+ list, namely nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs).