Environmental Concerns Speaker Series Report

Improving Women’s Health by Reducing Chemical Exposures

The Environmental Concerns Speaker Series for May

Kaley BeinsKayley Beins, a senior scientist from the Environmental Working Group, discussed women’s health issues by giving a presentation on May 8th, 2023. Women’s healthcare has been neglected, and is underfunded. The Environmental Working Group, or EWG for short, is a nonprofit organization that specializes in research and advocacy regarding “agricultural subsidies, toxic chemicals, drinking water pollutants, and corporate accountability”. Their mission is: “To empower you with breakthrough research to make informed choices and live a healthy life in a healthy environment.” Beins works specifically in improving human health by reducing chemical exposure.

Personal Care Products
On average, Americans who identify as women use 12 personal care products a day, exposing themselves to 168 chemical ingredients. In comparison, men use six products a day, exposing them to 85 chemical ingredients. Although most of these chemicals are not toxic, some of them have been associated with health issues and environmental degradation. This makes women more susceptible to health issues because they are exposed to more chemicals. Personal care covers a wide range of products, from makeup and cosmetics to soaps and lotions, which everyone uses. Many harmful ingredients in personal care products are endocrine disrupting chemicals. These chemicals can disrupt processes in our bodies that are controlled by hormones, and it is important to note that most processes in our bodies are controlled by hormones. Some studies have shown a linkage with some personal care products, and various cancers.

EWG Database
EWG has created a database, called SkinDeep that catalogs over 90 thousand products with detailed information about the chemical ingredients. This database can be used to research products in order to reduce your exposure to these harmful chemicals. This data is collected from authoritative bodies, literature reviews, and industry data reports. The database analyzes each ingredient in a product, and rates it on a hazard scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the least toxic and safest.
The link to SkinDeep: https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

What we can do
We can get involved by choosing safer products, which not only protects ourselves and our families, but also shows the industry that customers care about product safety. We can also support legislation such as California’s AB 496, which is endorsed by the EWG and would expand the prohibition of toxic chemical use in cosmetics.

–Rinta Taira


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