On Monday, December 24, 2007, a report within the Royal Society of Chemistry stated that synthetic chemicals in consumer products, such as in shampoo and medicines, could be breaking down into harmful byproducts after being washed down the drain and sent within the water to be purified in public water supply and sanitation systems.
The scientists involved with the study are especially concerned with phthalates and parabens. Phthalates, sometimes called phthalate esters, are chemical compounds that are all used as plasticizers, or substances added to plastics to make them more flexible. They are often used in adhesives, nail polish, and various soft rubber products.
Parabens are chemicals that are used as preservatives mostly in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. They are often used in shampoos, shaving gels, cleansing gels, toothpastes, and moisturizers; they are also used as a food additive.
They do not think these chemicals are harmful in their original form because their concentrations in water emerging from water purification systems are not very high. However, studies have yet to show whether these chemicals are harmful or not after they breakdown into simpler forms—what is called The Cocktail Effect.
The Cocktail Effect a result from combining various types of potentially toxic chemicals together into a mixture. The effect of all the toxic chemicals are known separately, however, their combined effect is not known—which is why it is called The Cocktail Effect. The active ingredients of one chemical may make another chemical react in a more dramatic way than if it was used alone. In a mixture, the combined chemicals may make the mixture much more toxic to human health and the environment.
The end conclusion is that scientists just do not know if many of these mixtures of synthetic ingredients found within our consumer products are harmful to human and animal health and, ultimately, harmful to our environment in general.
Next time, take a look at the ingredients on the side of your hair shampoo, shaving cream, floor cleaner, and toothpaste. These products may be contributing to degraded health and diminished environmental conditions.