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DBP and birth defects

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The US-based Environmental Working Group (ewg

The US-based Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) has recently published research revealing that a wide range of cosmetic products, from nail polishes to skin lotions, shampoos, conditioners, perfumes, and antiperspirants, contain a chemical called dibutyl phthalate, or DBP.

This chemical, which can be absorbed through the skin, is used in cosmetics to enhance penetration of skin products, to create a sensation of "softness," and to help nail polish form an even film as it dries. DBP is also a suspected reproductive toxin, and has been linked to birth defects in lab animals.

The EWG report found that DBP is "ubiquitous" in human populations&in levels "above federal safety standards, in women of childbearing age." While the report doesn't call for a ban on DBP, Jane Houlihan, senior analyst for EWG, states, "Women who are considering becoming pregnant, or who are pregnant and nursing, should avoid using any products containing DBP."

Check labels for "dibutyl phthalate," "butyl ester," or "plasticizers" (although, admittedly, not all manufacturers label their products). Most skin and hair products found in your local health food store will be free of phthalates, and a few major cosmetics companies are also beginning to find alternatives to use in their products.

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