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Known carcinogensThe following are a few examples of the most commonly encountered carcinogenic materials. For a full list of the latest known carcinogens review the report from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report on known carcinogens.
- Formaldehyde: It's the same stuff you used when you dissected the frog in seventh grade and is also commonly used as a preservative in many household products, glue in particleboard, and in plywood furniture.
- Paradichlorobenzene: This probable carcinogen is found in toilet bowl cleaners and can cause harm to the central nervous system.
- Perchloroethylene (or 1-1-1 trichloroethane solvents): These chemicals are commonly found in dry cleaning fluid, spot removers, and carpet cleaners.
- Tobacco smoke: A well-known carcinogen that can harm you even if you don't smoke but are simply exposed to it.
- Toronto Smog: A well-known fact that the air we breathed has numerous carcinogens.
Consumer productsDeodorant, a bar of soap, toothpaste, hair spray, detergent... All of these products can contain carcinogens and many do. While each product may only contain a small amount of cancer-causing agents, most of us use these products every day.
Making an informed, healthy choice starts by becoming aware of these products and choosing to use products made by companies that do not use harmful ingredients.
The list below consists of common consumer products that contain carcinogenic materials. This is just a start -- please add to it and share information about other products that you know of so we can all live more healthy lives.
Bath and beauty products
- Dove Beauty Bar: It's 99% water, but watch out for that other 1%. It includes quaternium 15 and formaldehyde, known carcinogens, as well as irritants to the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes.
- Johnson's Baby Shampoo: Contains carcinogens quaterium 15, FD&C RED 40, which can cause dermatitis.
- Crest Tarter Control Toothpaste: This best selling toothpaste contains saccharin and phenol fluoride.
- Talcum powder: Talc, the main ingredient, is a carcinogen that increases the risk of ovarian cancer. Use corn starch instead.
- Cover Girl Replenishing Natural Finish Make Up (foundation): This makeup includes BHA, talc, titanium dioxide, triethanolamine. These interact with nitrites to form nitrosamines and lanolin, which is often contaminated with DDT and other carcinogenic pesticides.
Household cleaning products
- Tide & Cheer Laundry Detergent: Our favorite detergent contains trisodium nitrilotriacetate, a carcinogen.
- Lysol Disinfectant: While it makes the air sweet smelling, it contains the dioxin.
- Oscar Meyer beef hot dogs: Labeled ingredients in this American favorite include nitrite, which interacts with meat amines to form nitrosamines. Tests have also found other carcinogens such as benzene hexachloride, dacthal, dieldrin, DDT, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, and lindane. If you have to eat hot dogs, look for ones without nitrates in them.
- Zodiac flea collars: These dog collars include the labeled carcinogen propoxur. Try Trader Joe’s herbal flea collars instead.
- Carpets: Some carpets are made or finished with petrolatum-based chemicals. These chemicals can "outgas" into the home. Petrolatum is believed to a human carcinogen.