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23 Toxic Chemicals You Can Find in Everyday Items

There are so many products that we use on a regular basis — beauty products, household cleaners, food items, cookware, stuff for babies, and more. It’s stressful enough to find time in the day to purchase these items and get them home, so it’s safe to say that a lot of us aren’t spending extra time investigating what’s in each product. We trust that if an item is on a store shelf, it must be safe to use. Well, that is just plain wrong.

After seeing the documentary Stink!, about dangerous chemicals in American products, we learned that very little is regulated. A lot of the items that are making us sick are the same items we are buying and using every day. People are making the connection between these products and negative changes in their health. The trail of guilt goes back to greedy corporations who cut corners to save money and make money. All the while, they are playing with our safety and that of our families. The best way to fight back is to inform yourself, demand more transparency, vote for those who feel the same, and refuse to buy toxic products. Here are 23 unhealthy ingredients in everyday items that you’ll want to avoid.


What is it? Who knows? In an effort to protect their special formulas, perfume companies don’t have to disclose the ingredients in their fragrances. This has spread to anything containing a “fragrance,” which can contain any number of hazardous chemicals.

Where is it found? Perfume, air fresheners, scented candles, dryer sheets, body wash, hand wash, etc.

What does it cause? Allergic reactions (including anaphylaxis), cancer, hormone disruption, weight gain, etc.


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Did you know? 🤷‍♀️🤷🏽‍♀️ . . . . . . . . @Regran_ed from @queens_be_like – (Repost via @dopeblackness) 🗣Let that #CreamyCrack go!!! ☠💇🏾 "Nearly 80 percent of #hairproducts aimed at #blackwomen contain chemicals linked to #cancer, infertility and obesity, new research suggests. Up to 78 percent of #relaxers, which are used to permanently straighten hair, contain hormone-disrupting chemicals, known as #parabens, a US study found. Past studies suggest parabens, which are used as preservatives, mimic oestrogen and may cause cancer, weight gain and reduced muscle mass. Up to 78 percent of hair products, including leave-in conditioners, also contain #phthalates, the research adds. Phthalates are added to prolong products' shelf lives and have been linked to breast and ovarian cancer, as well as early menopause. Out of the 18 products analysed, 11 contain chemicals that are banned under the EU cosmetic regulations due to their links to cancer and female infertility. Previous research suggests black women are more likely to use straightening and moisturising hair products to try and meet social beauty norms. Results further suggest that hair products aimed at black women contain up to 45 hormone-disrupting chemicals, which are not generally listed on their labels. The worst offenders were found in hair lotions, root stimulators and relaxers. Lead author Dr Jessica Helm, from the Silent Spring Institute, Massachusetts, said: 'Chemicals in hair products, and beauty products in general, are mostly untested and largely unregulated. Janette Robinson Flint, from the nonprofit organisation #BlackWomenforWellness, added: 'Black women are over-exposed and under-protected from toxic chemicals.' 'This study is evidence that hair products are an important source of toxic chemicals and that we need to remove these risks to protect black women's lives and prevent harm.' Use natural, organic products! 🥑🍋🥝🍅 They encourage hair-product manufacturers to make safer cosmetics. In the meantime, the scientists advise people reduce their chemical exposure by looking for products that are paraben and fragrance free. People should also choose #plantbased or #organic produ

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What is it? Phthalates are the esters of phthalic acid. They are used to make plastic and vinyl softer, more flexible, more transparent, and more durable.

Where are they found? Chemical hair relaxers, deodorant/antiperspirant, nail polish, fragrances, vinyl shower curtains, vinyl flooring, children’s toys, etc.

What do they cause? Weight gain, hormone issues (in men and women)/hormone damage, increased risk of breast cancer, linked to childhood language delays, cell damage, harm to thyroid function, etc.


What are they? Parabens (look for any ingredient that ends in this word) are preservatives and are used to prevent bacteria growth in products.

Where are they found? Facial cleansers, shampoo, conditioner, lotions, deodorant/antiperspirant, 85% of cosmetics, beer, sodas, sauces, jams, and other beverages and foods, etc.

What do they cause? Breast cancer (99% of breast cancer tissue contains parabens), endocrine disruption, infertility in men, etc.



What is it? Triclosan is an antimicrobial and antifungal chemical, which is also used as a preservative.

Where is it found? Colgate toothpaste, hand sanitizers, hand soap, clothing, makeup, cleaning products, children’s toys, plastic kitchen tools, bedding and other fabrics, deodorant/antiperspirant, body wash, aftershave, etc.

What does it cause? Increased risk of breast cancer (including for pregnant women); increased chance of children developing asthma, skin allergies, and eczema; weakening of the immune system, uncontrolled cell growth, etc.

1, 4-Dioxane

What is it? 1,4-Dioxane is a synthetic petrochemical, and contaminant (a.k.a. these names).

Where is it found? Cosmetics, shampoo, children’s bath products, face wash, bubble bath, body wash, drinking water, mouthwash, chemical hair relaxer, some pharmaceuticals, etc.

What does it cause? Cancer, linked to organ toxicity; vertigo; drowsiness; irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat; nausea; headache; etc.

Food Dyes


What are they? Food dyes are petroleum or crude oil derived chemicals used to add color to what we eat, and other items.

Where are they found? Pharmaceuticals such as Tylenol, cereals, baked goods, sodas, Jell-O, cake mix, waffles, crackers, Kool-Aid, cosmetics, candy, etc.

What do they cause? Hyperactivity in children, ADHD, behavioral issues in children, cancer, tumors, chromosomal damage, hypersensitivity, asthma, allergic reactions, eczema, hives, learning disabilities, insomnia, inability to concentrate, chromosomal damage, etc.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

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Screenshot from Facebook. Today I was watching a man trying to sell a yoga studio and coffee shop industrial sized hand wash and other liquid cleaners from their product line in Sri Lanka. I interrupted and asked what were the ingredients, since none were noted…secret recipe madam he jokes. I shared with him that ingredient lists are mandatory and that #triclosan and #sodiumlaurelsulfate are being banned in Canada and other countries. He jotted it down and promised to ask the owner 🤔 In India and Sri Lanka Lifebuoy soap and even skin creams contain triclosan which contributes to antibiotic resistance as well as pollutes our water systems 🐊🐋🐟🐙 Use soap and water. Also check out the #nopoo movement . #srilanka #sustainability #recycle #reduce #reuse #savetheplanet #ecofriendly #plasticfree #zerowaste #urbanplanning #wastemanagement #kitchenwaste #compost #sea #beach #environment #ecosystem #climatechange #beachcleanup #island #islandlife #ocean

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What is it? Sodium lauryl sulfate (a.k.a. sodium laureth sulfate and other ingredients featuring the word sodium) is a surfactant, emulsifier, and cleansing agent that makes products foam up or lather.

Where is it found? Shampoo, toothpaste, antibacterial soap, foaming cleanser, Cetaphil, soap, etc.

What does it cause? Hair loss, cancer (as it contains 1,4-Dioxane), skin irritation, dry skin, a triggering of allergies, etc.


What is it? Aluminum is a light silvery-grey heavy metal that is used in some everyday products we use.

Where is it found? Deodorant, aluminum foil, table salt, soy milk, soda cans, antacids, kitchenware, baking soda/baking powder, processed cheese, cake mix, canned foods, certain vaccines, cosmetics, cookware, certain baby formulas, etc.

What does it cause? Linked to Alzheimer’s, pulmonary fibrosis, other respiratory issues, constipation, heavy metal toxicity, linked to autism, breast cancer, etc.

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)


What is it? Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is a petroleum-based compound, used to thicken, soften, carry moisture, and more in products.

Where is it found? Shampoo, ibuprofen, cream-based cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, laxatives, etc.

What does it cause? Scalp irritation, severe diarrhea, rectal bleeding, contact dermatitis, skin rashes, dry skin, linked to cancer, etc.

Sodium Fluoride

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Did you know that during WWII both the Germans and the Russians added sodium fluoride to the drinking water of prisoners of war to make them stupid and docile? So the next time somebody tries to tell you that there is no scientific evidence proving that fluoride chemicals are harmful to human health, simply point them to the historical record as well as more recent research. A new study review recently published in the Institute of Environmental Health Sciences journal Environmental Health Perspectives that shows, for something like the 25th time now, that fluoride damages brain development and leads to significantly lower IQ levels in humans. In addition, researchers from both Harvard University‘s School of Public health and China Medical University in Shenyang jointly studied the effects of fluoride on children by evaluating 27 different fluoride studies. Upon review, the team found “strong indications” that fluoride exposure, particularly among developing children, is highly problematic for proper cognitive development and brain formation. Don't fall for the argument that adding flouride to your drinking water and toothpaste is good for your teeth. The truth is, research has uncovered the truth about Fluoride. Not only can it make you fat and stupid, but also can make your kids hyperactive with cognitive difficulties. Fluoride causes increased uptake of aluminum in the brain, thereby contributing to Alzheimer’s disease. Beyond that, fluoride causes bones to become brittle so they break easily. #knowledgeispower #toxicchemical #health #braindamage #organic #nourish #wellness #nourishyourself #fitness #wellnessjourney #goodhealth #wellnessadvocate greenlifestyle #healthyhappylife #fitforme #justbreathe

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What is it? Sodium fluoride is a pharmaceutical and is often an umbrella term for various toxic chemicals.

Where is it found? Tap water, toothpaste, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, etc.

What does it cause? Cancer, collagen to break down, internal bleeding (in fluoride poisoning), lowered IQ, brain damage, thyroid issues, etc.

Mineral Oil

What is it? Mineral oil is a byproduct from distilling petroleum to make gasoline.

Where is it found? Used as a laxative, cosmetics, baby lotion, cold creams, baby oil, hair products, Swedish fish candy, ointments, etc.

What does it cause? Increased risk of cancer (for untreated or mildly treated mineral oil), clogged pores, contamination of the body, etc.


What is it? Formaldehyde is a naturally occurring organic chemical compound.

Where is it found? Adhesives and glues, pressed-wood products, permanent-press fabrics, cigarettes, nail polish, baby care products, chemical hair straightener, nail polish remover, some pillows, and bedding, etc.

What does it cause? Eye, nose, and throat irritation; cancer; nausea; wheezing; asthma attacks; bronchitis; etc.

Butyl Cellosolve


What is it? Butyl cellosolve is a chemical solvent that is added to several items, including cleaners.

Where is it found? 409, Goo Gone, Windex, simple green, Pledge, Easy Off, and other cleaning products.

What does it cause? Depression, mood swings, depression of the central nervous system, memory loss, blood disorders, linked to cancer, headaches, linked to reproductive issues, harmful if absorbed through the skin, etc.


What is it? Toluene is a clear, odorless liquid which occurs naturally in crude oil and in the tolu tree.

Where is it found? Nail polish, inks, paint thinner, paint brush cleaners, hair dyes, nail treatment

What does it cause? Organ system toxicity, dizziness, eye irritation, developmental toxicity, reproductive toxicity, bioaccumulation, etc.



What is it? Hydroquinone is a topical skin-lightening agent.

Where is it found? Skin lightener, nail glue, hair conditioner, facial cleanser, etc.

What does it cause? Organ system toxicity, cancer, immunotoxicity, allergies, damage to DNA, etc.

Triethanolamine (TEA)

What is it? Triethanolamine is an amine, used as a PH adjusting chemical, a surfactant, stabilizer, and fragrance ingredient, etc.

Where is it found? Shampoo, soap, mascara, eyeliner, other makeup, fragrances, shaving cream, sunscreen, paraffin and waxes, pharmaceutical ointments, etc.

What does it cause? Cancer, bioaccumulation, contact dermatitis, organ system toxicity, skin/eye irritation, etc.


What is it? Talc is a clay mineral, sometimes containing asbestos.

Where is it found? Talcum powder/baby powder, cosmetics including blush, ceramics, paint, rubber, paper, plastics, food, pharmaceuticals, etc.

What does it cause? Cancer (ovarian, lung), pulmonary issues, etc.

Vinyl and PVC

What is it? A synthetic plastic or resin (vinyl); polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a synthetic plastic polymer.

Where is it found? Plastic products, vinyl records, raincoats, and other clothing, shower curtains, pipes, window frames, blood bags, wire, cable, indoor plumbing, etc.

What does it cause? Increased risk of liver cancer (ovarian, lung), headaches, eye and respiratory tract irritation, endocrine disruption, etc.



What is it? Bronopol is the common name for the active ingredient in a series of broad-spectrum antimicrobial agents marketed by The Dow Chemical Company and its global affiliates under several trade names.

Where is it found? Cosmetics, topical medications, acne treatment, finger paints, foundation, cream, kitty litter, conditioner, eyebrow pencil, etc.

What does it cause? Severe irritation to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract; change in weight of certain organs, harmful to the stomach and liver, etc.

BHA (Butylated Hydroxyl Anisole)


What is it? Butylated Hydroxyl Anisole is a synthetic antioxidant and preservative

Where is it found? Food, food packaging, cosmetics, animal feed, medicines, sunscreen, deodorant/antiperspirant, fragrance, etc.

What does it cause? Possibly carcinogenic, endocrine disruption, organ system toxicity, irritation, developmental and reproductive toxicity, bioaccumulation, allergies, etc.


What is it? “Oxybenzone is a benzophenone derivative used as a sunscreen agent.”

Where is it found? Sunscreen, plastics, cosmetics, plastics, etc.

What does it cause? Allergies/Photoallergies, is a photocarcinogen, potentially causes cell damage, etc.


What is it? “Lead is a naturally occurring element found in small amounts in the earth’s crust. While it has some beneficial uses, it can be toxic to humans and animals…”

Where is it found? Lipstick, paint, household dust, some toys, lead-glazed pottery, ceramics, china, some toys, some metal jewelry, imported canned foods, batteries, etc.

What does it cause? Lower IQ and brain/nervous system damage in children, anemia, kidney damage, abdominal issues, fatigue, hallucinations, etc.

Carbon Black

What is it? Carbon black (subtypes are acetylene black, channel black, furnace black, lamp black, and thermal black) is a material produced by the incomplete combustion of heavy petroleum products such as FCC tar, coal tar, or ethylene cracking tar.”

Where is it found? Eyeliner, mascara, tires, rubber, shoes, ink, paint, etc.

What does it cause? Possible carcinogen; lung disease; irritation to eyes, nose, and throat; etc.