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.

Issue updates

Open Letter Calling on Unilever to be Toxic-Free

An Open Letter to the CEO of Unilever calling on the company to Pledge to be Toxic-Free

> Keep Reading
Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Getting Personal with Chemicals

We should be able to trust that the products we buy are safe — especially the ones our families use every day, directly on our bodies. However, we looked into common ingredients in popular personal care products, and found that when we use these products, like shampoo, baby wipes, deodorant, shaving gel, or perfume, we are often dosing our bodies with chemicals that can disrupt our hormones, cause developmental problems, cause cancer, and more.

This consumer guide describes the results of our investigation of 10 popular personal care products that contain chemicals of concern.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

Joint Statement Opposing Exceptions to CFPB Payday Rule

We've joined 10 other leading consumer, community, religious and civil rights organizations to oppose exemptions to a strong CFPB payday and auto title lending rule and to reiterate our opposition to an exception that has already been considered and rejected that would allow lenders to make longer-term installment loans without considering a borrower’s ability to repay so long as the payment did not exceed five percent of a borrowers’ income.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

You might not know this about overdraft fees | Kathryn Lee

Did your bank sell you on the idea that it’s embarrassing for you to have your debit card declined for a $3 cup of coffee, and that you should pay them $35 each time for “overdraft protection”? Those big fees are what’s embarrassing. Unless you say yes to allow fees, you cannot be charged for over-drafting your debit card.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S.PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection, Make VW Pay, Transportation

Framework for VW Settlement Announced

Statement by Mike Litt, Consumer Program Advocate at U.S. PIRG Education Fund, on todays announced VW settlement. For more details on what a strong settlement agreement ought to look like, please see the open letter that we released earlier this week with other consumer and environmental groups.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Bounced Checks Could Land You On A Banking Blacklist

"NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Bounced checks and forgotten overdraft fees can happen to anybody. But now, some banks are using those money mistakes against customers. [...] Consumer advocates said that some of the people being shut out have records that were dinged accidentally." (Video and print story available)

> Keep Reading

An $18 Million Lesson in Handling Credit Report Errors

"Even after sending more than 13 letters to Equifax over the course of two years, Julie Miller could not get the big credit bureau to remove a host of errors that it inserted into her credit report. [...] So she tried suing. That worked. [...] “Big punitive penalties may help force the bureaus to upgrade their 20th-century algorithms and incompetent dispute reinvestigation processes,” said Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director at the United States Public Interest Research Group. “But C.F.P.B.’s authority to supervise the big credit bureaus is one of the most significant powers Congress gave it.”

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

Strong Road Safety Laws Compel Toyota to Recall One Million Cars

This recall highlights our continued need for strong public health and consumer safety standards and protections. Our car safety protections achieve the highest standards of excellence in motor vehicle and highway safety, and they work for us every day to prevent crashes and their high human and financial cost.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Survey Finds Dangerous Toys on Store Shelves

Dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America’s store shelves, according to U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s 27th annual Trouble in Toyland report. It reveals the results of laboratory testing on toys for lead, cadmium and phthalates, all of which have been proven to have serious adverse health impacts on the development of young children. The survey also found small toys that pose a choking hazard, extremely loud toys that threaten children’s hearing, and toy magnets that can cause serious injury.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

New Report: American Lives at Risk from Unsafe Foods

Despite government commitments to address the problem, food recalls are on the rise and our food safety systems are broken, according to a new report by U.S. PIRG. 

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Consumer Protection

CFPB holds field hearing on prepaid cards-- all the fees, none of the protections | Ed Mierzwinski

Several members of the PIRG-backed Americans for Financial Reform are among the witnesses at a field hearing on prepaid cards that the Consumer FInancial Protection Bureau holds at noon today in Durham, NC. While reloadable prepaid cards are growing fast as an option for convenience, for the unbanked and for distribution of government and student benefits, so-called general purpose reloadable prepaid cards sold under a variety of brands have fewer consumer protections than credit cards (gold standard), debit cards (fewer protections), and payroll, government benefit and gift cards (some protections).The CFPB will announce a advance notice of proposed rulemaking to improve the situation.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

NY Investigates Banks "Forcing" Consumers To Buy Overpriced Mortgage Insurance | Ed Mierzwinski

It's called force-placed insurance for a reason. Your mortgage lender buys it for you and you are forced to pay for it, even if it isn't the best deal for you. When lenders purchase a product to "benefit" consumers, they often have numerous incentives to make the more expensive, not less-expensive, choice due to what's called reverse competition. That's a bad deal for you and a bad deal for the economy, but a good deal for the kind of sordid crony capitalism that relies on kickbacks, not better products. Fortunately, the New York Department of Financial Services (both banking and insurance) and the CFPB are both taking a deep dive into the forced-place-insurance mess.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

CFPB takes first step to eliminate forced arbitration and other consumer news | Ed Mierzwinski

Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau took an important first step toward protecting consumers from mandatory arbitration clauses, which are boilerplate sentences in bank account and other contracts that crush consumer legal rights. ... Meanwhile, the New York Times follows up on a lawsuit by the Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson against a medical debt collector that blocks and tackles consumers trying to get through hospital emergency room doors. But it gets better. That debt collector just happens to be owned by the same hedge fund that owned a supposedly neutral (not) forced arbitration mill known as NAF and favored by the big credit card companies.   ...  Also today, the World Privacy Forum announced updates to its helpful pages on medical identity theft.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

U.S., States Sue Apple, Publishers Over E-Book Price Conspiracy | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, the U.S. Attorney General and the Attorney Generals of Connecticut and Texas announced settlements with several publishers -- Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins --over an alleged conspiracy with Apple and other publishers to attack Amazon's pricing model, secretly set e-book prices and thereby harm consumers. However, Apple and the publishers Macmillan and Penguin Group USA have refused to settle and are being sued by the agencies.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Consumer Bureau Compared to Peace Corps | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, in his column "Government's Not Dead Yet," Joe Nocera of the New York Times pays a visit to the PIRG-backed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where he finds vision, idealism and people working to show that "government can make a difference in people’s lives."

> Keep Reading

Pages

View AllRSS Feed

Support us

Your tax-deductible donation supports U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s work to educate consumers on the issues that matter, and the powerful interests that are blocking progress.

Learn More

You can also support U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s work through bequests, contributions from life insurance or retirement plans, securities contributions and vehicle donations.