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The (Healthy) Sex Talk: What’s Actually Inside Sexual Health Products

 
Toxic chemicals in sexual health products graphicHave you ever thought about what you’re putting on or inside the most sensitive parts of your body? At MADE SAFE, we sure have – so we think it’s time that the sex talk is transformed into the healthy sex talk.

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Sexual Health Products

Toxic chemicals in sexual health products graphic

Have you ever thought about what you’re putting on or inside the most sensitive parts of your body? At MADE SAFE, we sure have – so we think it’s time that the sex talk is transformed into the healthy sex talk.

Sex is often thought of as a taboo topic, driving conversations about health and pleasure behind closed doors. And while what happens in the bedroom is your business and your business alone, we think what’s inside the products you’re using in the bedroom is MADE SAFE’s business too. That’s because conventional sexual health products are known to contain substances associated with various types of harm, from irritation to cancer. And the vagina can rapidly absorb chemicals without metabolizing them, which means substances enter the bloodstream without first being broken down. This makes the vagina a meaningful route of exposure to potentially harmful substances used in sexual health products.

So let’s talk about sex – sexual health products that is – because we want to help you make the safest decisions possible.

Take a look at some of the ingredients and substances below. You’ll learn what they are, where they’re found, associated health concerns, and how to shop for safer alternatives.


Lubricants

  • Propylene Glycol & Synthetic Glycerin: Ingredients derived from petroleum. Not all petrochemicals are linked to human health harm, but these two can contribute to damaging rectal, cervical, and vaginal tissue. While propylene glycol may be suitable for some uses (i.e. external personal care), it is not recommended for use internally.
  • Parabens: Members of this group of preservatives are linked to breast cancer, and reproductive and developmental harm.

Other concerns in lube: Fragrance, flavor, siloxanes & silanes, PEGs


Condoms

  • Nitrosamines: Common substances in latex condoms that are linked to cancer.*
  • Flavor: Umbrella terms like “artificial flavor” can contain mixtures of undisclosed ingredients. Without disclosure, it’s impossible to know what you may be exposed to.

Other concerns in condoms: Siloxanes & silanes, petroleum-derived glycerin

*This does NOT mean you should stop using condoms. Any condom is always better than no condom. Sustain condoms are MADE SAFE® certified, but if you don’t happen to have one of those on hand, always use other condoms to protect against sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.


Sex Toys

  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC): PVC is a common material used to make sex toys, including those labeled simply as “jelly rubber.” PVC is known to leach endocrine-disrupting compounds, including phthalates.
  • Trimethyltin Chloride: This substance is used in manufacture of plastics, particularly PVC. Trimethyltin chloride is considered a reproductive hazard, and is linked to irreversible neurotoxicity outcomes in development, learning impairments, and more. In a study assessing health risks from various chemicals in sex toys, researchers determined that exposure to trimethyltin chloride through sex toys was a health risk for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. They also determined there was a minor risk of neurological effects on adults.
  • Phthalates: Phthalates are a class of plasticizing chemicals that make plastics more flexible. Phthalates are linked to numerous endocrine disruption outcomes.
  • Toluene: Toluene is a petrochemical solvent linked to reproductive and developmental toxicity.

Sex Toy Cleaner

Other concerns in sex toy cleaners: Parabens, fragrance


Wipes

  • Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE): PET, the same material used to make single-use beverage bottles, is one of the most common materials used to make wipe fibers. PET does not readily break down in the environment, contributing to plastic pollution of our oceans and waterways.
  • PEGs: PEG stands for polyethylene glycol, which is manufactured using ethylene oxide in a process called ethoxylation. Ethoxylation can result in contamination by carcinogens 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide. These ingredients are listed on labels as “PEG” followed by a number (ex: PEG-40).
  • Siloxanes & Silanes: Siloxanes are a chemical group that form the backbone and building blocks of silicones. Silanes are modified silicone compounds. Most siloxanes are persistent in the environment and some ingredients from this group are known endocrine disruptors. There are numerous data gaps in the research on siloxanes and silanes. They’re usually listed on labels with the terms “siloxanes” or “dimethicone” as suffixes (ex: amodimethicone).

Other concerns in wipes: Fragrance, parabens, isothiazolinone preservatives


Feminine Washes

  • Fragrance: “Fragrance” is an umbrella term for what can be anywhere from a few ingredients to more than 100, combined to make up a scent. Their identity is secret because fragrances are often not disclosed on labels as their formula can be considered a “trade secret.” Without information about the ingredients that make up a fragrance, it’s impossible to know the true extent to which our health may be compromised by them.
  • FDA-Restricted Dyes: Although there are some dyes that are not authorized for use on mucous membranes, they are still found in some feminine washes. These include D&C Red No. 33 and Ext. Violet #2.

Other concerns in feminine washes: Parabens, isothiazolinone preservatives, PEGs


Tips for Safer Sexual Health Products

  • Read labels to avoid the ingredients of concern listed above.
  • To avoid undisclosed ingredients, skip products with “fragrance” or “artificial flavor” listed on labels.
  • Skip flavored condoms, as the flavor ingredients they contain are typically artificial and undisclosed.
  • When it comes to lubricant, go natural. While this tip certainly doesn’t apply to all product groups, it is helpful when thinking about lubricants, as natural plant ingredients are typically better for internal use.
  • If a MADE SAFE® certified lubricant is unavailable, look for organic certified lubricants.
  • Shop for nontoxic lubricants that are pH matched to the vagina to protect the vagina’s natural microbiome.
  • When possible, shop at reputable sources for sexual health products, especially when shopping for sex toys. Retailers that pride themselves on offering options that are body-safe are more likely to have already done some product vetting themselves before items hit the shelves.
  • Look for sex toys made of 100 percent medical-grade silicone, borosilicate glass, medical-grade stainless steel, or polished natural stone (ex: quartz). Ensure all of these are clearly labeled as such to avoid a mixture of mystery materials. Purchase sex toys with 100 percent of the materials disclosed (i.e. no vague terms like “jelly” or “rubber”). Look for labels that read 100 percent of a single substance.
  • If a healthier sex toy made of the materials mentioned above is out of reach, use a safer condom (like those from Sustain Natural) over the toy.
  • The sex toy industry is notorious for misleading product labeling, so sometimes toys are labeled as “silicone” or “body-safe” when they are not. Here are a few tips for spotting fraud:
    1. Note that real silicone is never see-through and is always opaque/cloudy.
    2. If a toy leaves residue behind when touched, it is not silicone.
    3. If a toy has a strong chemical smell, it is likely not silicone, as silicone typically has no odor.
    4. Labels listing a product as “phthalate-free” might not mean the product is any safer because the toy could contain other toxic substances. Don’t trust these claims and follow our tips above to look for safer materials instead (remember: medical-grade silicone or stainless steel, borosilicate glass, or polished natural stone).
    5. Manufacturers often label products as “for novelty use only” as a means to avoid taking responsibility for health impacts associated with the use of harmful sex toys – even though their design, packaging language, and place of sale highly suggest they are to be used internally for sexual health or pleasure. Instead, look for products labeled as specifically intended to be used internally.
  • Clean sex toys using nontoxic methods. Follow all of the manufacturer’s guidelines to choose the right cleaning method. Keep in mind that many toys can safely be boiled for 5-10 minutes, run through the top rack of the dishwasher with nontoxic detergent, or cleaned using safer soap and water. Harsh cleansers or disinfectants like triclosan are typically not necessary.
  • Remember that healthy vaginas are “self-cleaning,” capable of keeping bacteria balanced without any assistance. In healthy vaginas, “discharge” is typically natural cervical fluid. Because cervical fluid ebbs and flows throughout the menstrual cycle, this can be mistaken for a health issue, but in healthy people, it’s normally just the body responding to changes in hormones. This means that feminine washes, sprays, soaps, and douching are generally unnecessary.
  • Not only are feminine washes and douching typically unnecessary, they can actually be harmful to vaginal health. Douching is not recommended by many health groups, unless advised in certain health conditions. Instead, a little gentle soap is usually ok to use externally; no internal cleaning necessary. (Remember: Always discontinue the use of any product that causes irritation. If you are concerned about a health issue, seek the advice of your health care provider.)
  • Look for MADE SAFE® certified lubricants, condoms, and wipes. 
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#ChemicalCallout: Toluene

Toluene graphic

What Is It?

Toluene is a petrochemical or lab-produced solvent used in air fresheners, sex toys, and in personal care products like nail polish, nail treatments, and hair dyes. Toluene is also found in ambient air in salons from the use of hair and nail treatments, and in homes, workplaces, and cars as a result of air freshener use. Toluene is also an environmental pollutant. 
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#ChemicalCallout: Toluene

 

Toluene graphicWhat Is It?

Toluene is a petrochemical or lab-produced solvent used in air fresheners, sex toys, and in personal care products like nail polish, nail treatments, and hair dyes. Toluene is also found in ambient air in salons from the use of hair and nail treatments, and in homes, workplaces, and cars as a result of air freshener use. Toluene is also an environmental pollutant.

The Health Concern

Toluene is linked to short-term problems like headaches, confusion, fatigue, and eye, nose, and throat irritation. In the long-term, toluene is associated with impacts like kidney and liver damage, reproductive harm, and developmental toxicity

How to Avoid It
  • Practice safer scents. Air fresheners can be a source of toluene, among other toxic substances, in indoor air. For tips on how to get safer and fresher air, read our guide to air fresheners.
  • Seek safer trips to the nail salon. Here are some top tips:
    • Shop for nail polishes that don’t contain toluene. Many of these nail polishes are marketed as formulated without the “Toxic Trio.” (While these don’t contain three egregiously toxic substances – toluene, dibutyl phthalate, and formaldehyde – they can still contain other toxic ingredients, so make sure to read labels carefully. Consult our Hazard List to see if the polish contains any of the worst offenders.)
    • Reconsider frequent trips to the nail salon. Give thought to decreasing your number of visits to reduce your exposure.
    • Skip the polish. You can still get your mani-pedi, just forego the polish. Instead of painting nails, simply buff for a shine.
  • Choose nontoxic adult intimacy products, as toluene has been measured in conventional sex toys. Look for 100% medical-grade silicone, borosilicate glass, medical-grade stainless steel, or polished natural stone (ex: quartz). For more tips on choosing safer sexual health products read our guide.
  • Shop for MADE SAFE certified hair color solutions. Toluene is not permitted in certified products.
  • Toluene is a big occupational concern for those who work in nail and hair salons. If you work in one of these industries, read through these resources from Women’s Voices for the Earth for tips on protecting yourself at work.
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2018 Media

 For media inquiries, please contact us.


2018

The Beauty Industry Has a Plastics Problem
DECEMBER 26 2018 – TEEN VOGUE
For decades, companies have used a material that lasts forever — plastic — to make things that we use for a short bit of time, sometimes just a few minutes, and then toss…read more

Why We Need to Keep Raising the Green Bar
NOVEMBER 21 2018 – ONE OF A KIND
Leading with purpose is my mantra. As lifelong nature lover and entrepreneur, I’ve found purpose by using business to make the world a better place…read more

Mattresses in the Mainstream
NOVEMBER 15 2018 – WOMEN’S VOICES FOR THE EARTH
Even though we spend eight hours each night sleeping on them, totaling almost one-third of our lives, most of us don’t put too much thought into our mattresses and bedding…read more

Finding Nontoxic Products
NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2018 – ENERGY TIMES
Clean houses, comfortable bedding and colorful baby toys are all hallmarks of modern life. However, this convenience comes with a cost…read more

Finding a Non Toxic Mattress: Best Eco Friendly Options
OCTOBER 25 2018 – EARTHEASY
Researchers have uncovered the missing information that consumers need when evaluating a mattress. For starters, what’s inside? And is it safe?…read more

Raise the Green Bar Sustainability Summit Takes Place November 8 in NYC
OCTOBER 17 2018 – COSMETICSDESIGN
The full-day event, hosted by The Good Housekeeping Institute and Made Safe, a non-profit certifying body, returns to New York City for a second year to help cosmetics, personal care, and fragrance brands (in fact, any FMCG brand) discover, understand, and implement sustainability practices that are both good for the planet and good for business…read more

GH on Your Side: Making It Easier to Be Green
OCTOBER 16 2018 – GOOD HOUSEKEEPING
A GH survey recently revealed that readers (like you!) are eager to make sustainable choices, especially when shopping for skincare, baby products and home cleaners. That’s why on November 8, the GH Institute is teaming up with Made Safe, an organization…read more

3 Ingredients You Should Avoid In Your Makeup + Skincare (And Why)
OCTOBER 9 2018 – WELL INSIDERS
With more awareness about ingredients in food and personal care products coming to light, there’s been a pendulum swing for many consumers, and more people are asking: How do we know what’s actually safe…read more

Inside the WELL Summit: Meet Amy Ziff, Founder of Made Safe
OCTOBER 2 2018 – WELL INSIDERS
Amy Ziff is founder and executive director of MADE SAFE, and a healthy living educator with a genetic predisposition to toxicity. She’s also mom to three young kids who share the same trait…read more

How Well Do You Know Your Baby’s Mattress?
SEPTEMBER 19 2018 – STROLLER TRAFFIC
Safe sleep Isn’t just about what babies are sleeping with—it’s also what they’re sleeping on. Made Safe, a non-profit that uses independent testing to certify everyday products as non-toxic, released a report earlier this month…read more

Detox Your Sleep: Uncomfortable Questions to Ask About Your Bedroom
SEPTEMBER 14 2018 – THE CHALKBOARD MAGAZINE
We spend approximately eight hours a night sleeping, almost one-third of our lives! Given that sleep is when the body does much of its repair and rejuvenation work, we commonly expect that mattresses and bedding materials are nontoxic…read more

The Healthy Baby Guide with Made Safe
SEPTEMBER 13 2018 – NATRACARE
Whether you’re a parent-to-be, new parent, or seasoned parent, it can be overwhelming and troubling to hear about the toxic chemicals around us – especially in the items and materials we use on a daily basis…read more

This Is the Fanciest Skin-Care Ad Campaign Ever
SEPTEMBER 11 2018 – THE CUT
Freedom. Beauty. Truth. Love. These four main takeaways are the guiding principles behind True Botanicals’ first ad campaign…read more

Made Safe: The Top 10 Non-Toxic Brands
SEPTEMBER 9 2018 – ROOT + REVEL
Unfamiliar with MADE SAFE®? This posts breaks down what the amazing MADE SAFE non-toxic certification and label is, why it matters and what…read more

Detox Your Sleep
SEPTEMBER 8 2018 – NATURALLY SAVVY
We spend eight hours each night sleeping—totaling almost one-third of our lives. During that time, our bodies do the critical wellness work of healing, resting, and rejuvenating…read more

New Report on Toxic Chemicals in Bedding Offer Safer Alternatives
SEPTEMBER 7 2018 – RTSLEEPWORLD
A new report released on September 5th shows that conventional bedding (mattresses, pillows, sheets) can be laden with toxic chemicals known to harm our health.…read more

Detox Your Sleep: Toxic Chemicals in Bedding and Safer Alternatives
SEPTEMBER 7 2018 – SPIT THAT OUT
We spend eight hours each night sleeping—totaling almost one-third of our lives. But our mattresses and bedding can contain chemicals that can actually have negative health consequences…read more

Unilever Invests in True Botanicals – Here’s What I Think
AUGUST 3 2018 – THIS ORGANIC GIRL
Okay so recently one reader asked me about my thoughts on Unilever investing in True Botanicals. I didn’t know if this was something a lot of you were thinking about so I asked on social…read more

From Fair Trade to GOTS Organic—What Do Ethical Certifications Actually Mean?
JUNE 1 2018 – DONE GOOD
A quick guide to some of the world’s most trusted ethical certifications…read more

Made Safe Releases Hazard List of Worst Toxic Chemicals in Products
MAY 23 2018 – PLASTIC POLLUTION COALITION
Plastic Pollution Coalition member organization Made Safe has released a new Hazard List of the worst offenders of toxic chemicals across product categories…read more

Made Safe Hazard List
MAY 22 2018 – NATURALLY SAVVY
Made Safe released our Hazard List™ today! This science-backed list includes some of the worst offenders of toxic chemicals across product categories…read more

Toxic Timeout: Everything You Need to Know to Avoid Artificial Flavoring
MAY 11 2018 – THE CHALKBOARD
Artificial flavoring is some of the worst stuff we can consume, yet it can be surprisingly difficult to avoid. That’s why non-toxic guard dogs, MADE SAFE recently created this fact sheet on “flavor”…read more

Cleaning up sunscreen: How Hawaii’s ban will help
MAY 9 2018 – VERDICT
How clean is your sunscreen? If it contains the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate, the answer is “not very”…read more

Eat Your Sunscreen
MAY 8 2018 – KOSMATOLOGY BLOG
Now, before you trash your favorite sunscreen, we don’t suggest that you stop applying your SPF…read more

Beauty2 Recap: Indie Brands to Watch
MAY 7 2018 – CEW BEAUTY INSIDER
Beauty2 returned to the Mercantile Annex in Midtown Manhattan from May 4 to May 5 to spotlight 15 luxury beauty brands as part of its “Spring Edit”…read more

Why Aren’t We Demanding Transparent and Nontoxic?
APRIL 29 2018 – GOOP
One of the fastest-growing companies in the clean-beauty world, True Botanicals has been nontoxic since its inception. It was one of the first brands we took on when we started goop’s clean beauty shop…read more

Who Are the Illuminati of the Cosmetic Industry?
APRIL 25 2018 – MAMAVATION
Just when you thought humanity was safe, another shocker has surfaced from the bowels of the chemical industry. Women’s Voices from the Earth has published a review on an industry panel…read more

Our People, Our Planet, Our Passion
APRIL 21 2018 – MOTHERDIRT BLOG
How people and their passion for the earth give us our work purpose. Celebrating Earth Day 2018 by celebrating the people who inspire us…read more

Know-It-All Guide to…Clean, Green Beauty
APRIL 13 2018 – COSMOPOLITAN
What is the green beauty movement anyway? It’s a shift toward products and brands that consider both human and environmental health, explains Tara Foley…read more

True Botanicals Is Ushering in the New Age of Natural Skin Care
APRIL 13 2018 – FASHIONISTA
After more than a decade of brands touting themselves as the most natural/organic/non-toxic/green line on the market (but with only a handful of them really living up to the self-promoted hype)…read more

What’s Up With Flavor?
APRIL 3 2018 – NATURALLY SAVVY
Made Safe has just released a new fact sheet and infographic on “flavor”, that catch-all term that seems to appear on virtually every product label in grocery store aisles…read more

Ranavat Botanics and Made Safe Certified
APRIL 2 2018 – GREEN PASSION BEAUTY
Let me introduce you to a daily luxury ritual with Ranavat Botanics. They create luxurious, hand-crafted, high performance botanical skin care inspired by India’s lavish royals…read more

How Plastic Toys Could be Damaging Your Family’s Health
MARCH 26 2018 – MADELINE BLOM
Have you ever stopped to think about the amount of plastic spilling out of your kids toy box? Never-mind the quantity, but quality is an issue here too…read more

Women We’re Watching: Amy Ziff
MARCH 19 2018 – W.E.L.L. INSIDERS
Amy Ziff is the founder and executive director of MADE SAFE®, the only nonprofit organization in the United States that certifies nontoxic everyday products…read more

What You Need To Know About Fragrance
MARCH 19 2018 – NATURALLY SAVVY
We’ve been talking a lot about fragrance lately, and we’ve found there’s a lot of confusion around this topic. Some wonder what the problems can be…read more

How To Decode A Skin-Care Ingredient List
MARCH 15 2018 – BUSTLE
That new, already-sold-out moisturizer might look bomb on your bathroom shelf — and in your obligatory Insta pic — but what’s going on with the actual formula inside that trendy packaging?…read more

MADE SAFE is Building a Roadmap to Healthy, Sustainable Products
MARCH 13 2018 – MUSINGS
“All-natural,” “real,” “green” and “organic” are all terms that we see on our detergent, sunscreen, and tampons. But, what do they really mean? The answer is — not much…read more

Natural Isn’t Enough (and Neither Is Organic)
MARCH 6 2018 – TRUE BOTANICALS
We all know organic and natural ingredients are better for us, but those things alone don’t equate to product safety. Even organic ingredients are often preserved with harmful chemicals…read more

Sustain Makes Safe, Sexy Products for All the Things…
MARCH 5 2018 – BEAUTY LIES TRUTH
Sustain gets it. What do I mean by that? Basically they understand that as a woman who menstruates and is sexually active, I want products that are not only healthy and environmentally conscious…read more

Scent of a Woman; Scent of a Man
FEBRUARY 20 2018 – THRIVE GLOBAL
As the perfumed scent of date night this Valentine’s Day still lingers in your heart and mind…and maybe also in your date night dress; you may be contemplating with a smile on your face, just how it is…read more

Roundup Methodology
FEBRUARY 17 2018 – BECAUSE / HEALTH
At Because Health we have done the research for you about what products are safe. We roundup products with the best health and safety ratings that are widely available for different consumer products…read more

New Beauty Brand Cūrata Carves Out Its Own Luxury Niche
FEBRUARY 15 2018 – BEAUTY INDEPENDENT
Serena Rogers isn’t a bashful beauty entrepreneur. For her new brand Cūrata, the longtime spa industry consultant crafted rich scents that not everyone will adore.…read more

The Best Natural and Organic Small-Batch Skin-Care Brands Made by Experts
FEBRUARY 13 2018 – ALLURE
Green beauty is no longer a passing fad or fling — this movement is here to stay and growing by the day. But what often starts as someone mixing oils in her kitchen as a hobby, or an Etsy project that turns into a business, is not the only origin story…read more

What Is The Healthy Baby Guide?
FEBRUARY 1 2018 – NATRACARE BLOG
If you’re thinking of having a baby, or perhaps you’ve already got young children, then you’ll be thankful to discover the Healthy Baby Guide. It is a really comprehensive kit with all the essentials about protecting your family from harmful chemicals…read more

“Organic Goes Mainstream” with Naturepedic’s New Serenade Organic Mattress Program
JANUARY 22 2018 – FURNITURE WORLD
Naturepedic, the Ohio-based pioneer in certified organic mattresses and bedding, reports that it will be introducing the company’s new “Organic Goes Mainstream” program…read more

Safer Products for Babies and Toddlers: Resources and Recommendations for Retailers
JANUARY 21 2018 – GETTING READY FOR BABY CAMPAIGN
The Getting Ready for Baby campaign is providing this document for retailers interested in making and selling safer products for babies and toddlers…read more

Jessica Morse of Bare Beauty Bares All About Product Reviews, Brand Partnerships, Effective Pitches and The Instagram Algorithm
JANUARY 5 2018 – BEAUTY INDEPENDENT
Bare Beauty creator Jessica Morse is the natural beauty blogger of choice for readers who aren’t deceived by BuzzFeed clickbait…read more

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#ChemicalCallout: Fire Retardants

 
Flame retardants imageAs part of our #ChemicalCallout series to expose some of the worst toxic offenders in everyday products, we’re regularly highlighting a chemical from our Hazard List. Each month we’re profiling one chemical on our blog so you can learn more about it and how to avoid it with MADE SAFE certified alternatives and tips. (more…)

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#ChemicalCallout: Flame Retardants

 

Flame retardants imageWhat Are Flame Retardants?

Flame retardants are a group of chemicals regularly added to polyurethane foam, which is a common material used to make mattresses as well as furniture. Because polyurethane foam is made from materials derived from fossil fuels, and therefore highly combustible, flame retardants are added. There are numerous types of flame retardants, many of which are proprietary, meaning we don’t yet know exactly which chemicals they contain (because federal trade secret laws allow manufacturers to keep this information private).

The efficacy of flame retardants is debated, as they may not be effective in preventing fire or providing significantly more time for an exit in the event of a fire.

The Health Concerns

Several scientific studies have linked flame retardants to many health impacts including the various effects of endocrine disruption, lower IQ, hyperactivity, altered sexual development, altered neurodevelopment, other adverse pregnancy outcomes, fertility issues, thyroid dysfunction, and cancer.

Household dust is a common route of exposure to flame retardant chemicals. Because some flame retardants are not heavily bound to the products they’re used in, flame retardants can migrate from a product, like a mattress, and land in household dust. From there, they’re inhaled, consumed, and then stored in our bodies.

Children are especially at risk for exposure as they often play, nap, and sit on the floor, and also handle objects that have touched the floor. Young children often place their hands in their mouth; this is a common route of exposure to flame retardants. Because their bodies are still developing, children are considered a population vulnerable to chemical exposure that can disrupt various systems. That means the very fact that development is ongoing in children makes them particularly susceptible to flame retardant chemicals.

Some flame retardants can also negatively impact the environment. Flame retardants have been found in the tissues of polar bears, sea otters, killer whales, and more. Many flame retardants can be persistent in the environment (meaning they stick around), can bioaccumulate (accumulate in organisms’ tissues), and can biomagnify (accumulate progressively in organisms’ tissues moving up the food chain).

How to Avoid Them

  • Skip polyurethane foam products altogether. When used correctly, natural materials like cotton and wool can meet national flammability standards without the use of chemical flame retardants. Shop for mattresses comprised of these natural materials to avoid flame retardants.
  • Flame retardants are often used in polyurethane foam products like mattresses and furniture. If you must choose a product containing foam, look for those made without flame retardants. You will likely need to ask the manufacturer if any flame retardants are used. If they will not respond to your inquiry, consider that a red flag and shop elsewhere.
  • Reduce your contact with household dust and lint: wash hands before meals (especially children’s hands), wash hands after handling your dryer’s lint trap, clean floors using a mop or vacuum with a HEPA filter, and frequently wash children’s toys that come in contact with the floor.
  • Other products can contain flame retardants too. If possible, skip foam-based products like nursing pillows, kids’ furniture, changing pads, portable crib mattresses, and more. Choose natural materials like cotton and wool instead.
  • Children’s pajamas can also be treated with flame retardants. Instead, look for close-fitting PJs made from organic cotton.
  • It is very hard to avoid flame retardants in strollers and car seats. To provide some barrier, we recommend covering these surfaces with a cotton cover that is washed frequently.
  • Shop MADE SAFE certified mattresses and bedding. Certified products are made without flame retardants as well as without known or suspected carcinogens, neurotoxins, developmental toxins, environmental toxins, and more.
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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions | Questions on Ingredients | Questions on Certification & Screening

General Questions

How do you define “toxic,” “safe” and “harmful”?

“Toxic” means that a product has been linked to human health or ecosystem harm. We evaluate for bioaccumulation, environmental persistence, off-gassing, aquatic and animal toxicity as part of our screening process.

“Safe” means that ingredients are not known or suspected to cause human health harm as determined by scientifically recognized lists from around the world. In order to do this, our scientists, researchers and/or advisers analyze the materials, ingredients and chemical components of a product (as obtained through our required paper screening) to ensure it does not contain harmful ingredients or release vapors, gases, or by-products that could impact human health.

“Harmful” means that an ingredient has enough available data on how it harms human health to be added to one of the authoritative lists from agencies and organizations around the world or that our Screening Process has found the ingredient to be harmful to human health or the wider ecosystem.

For more on our screening visit here.

Who regulates the 84,000+ chemicals in use in the U.S.?

Unfortunately, U.S. government agencies including the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission don’t have the authority to truly protect the public from toxic chemicals by requiring safety testing for all chemicals in use or added to the market. The EPA, which regulates most consumer products, has only banned or restricted five chemicals, and the FDA, which regulates cosmetics and personal care products, has only banned or restricted 11. (In comparison, the European Union has banned or restricted over 1,100 chemicals for cosmetics alone.)

In many instances, even if products are harmful, agencies don’t have the ability to mandate recalls. All too often, companies are left to self-police and consumers pay the price. Shoppers in the U.S. are responsible for figuring out what’s safe and what’s not based on relatively little information. Without a degree in toxicology or chemistry it can be hard to make sense of labels.

In fact, this is why our seals exist. They are a guiding light in the darkness around toxic chemicals in consumer products. For the first time, people can find items that were made without known toxic chemicals across store aisles, from baby and bedding, to household products as well as personal care and cosmetics. Our goal is to do the hard-work and the homework for you. We work under NDA with companies and use a scientific process to determine whether or not ingredients and, ultimately, products are considered MADE SAFE.

I think what you’re doing is fantastic! How can I support your efforts?

1) We’re a 501(c)3 and accept charitable donations.You can make an online donation here or mail your donation check to us directly at:

Nontoxic Certified
Attention: Gifts
PO Box 65
Irvington, NY 10533

Or, if you’d prefer to speak to someone about a gift in person, please contact us.

2) If you’re a shopper, buy MADE SAFE products! When you support companies making safe products without toxic chemicals, you’re using your economic power to help shift our entire economy to safe ingredients.

3) If you’re a company: Start working with us!

4) If you’re a retailer, work with us to establish shelf space for certified products or to create a sustainable buying and sourcing policy for your store.

5) If you’re a blogger, reporter, or writer, write about us! Contact us for a media kit, to arrange an interview, or for other information.

6) If you’re an agency or organization, partner with us! We have multiple partnership opportunities to reach mutual goals. Please contact us for more information.

Questions on Ingredients

Does MADE SAFE require that all ingredients are listed on certified products?

MADE SAFE insists on full ingredient disclosure for products. We believe shoppers have a right to know everything that’s in a product. We believe all ingredients – including fragrance, scent, flavor, and other sub-ingredients or allergens – should be listed on the label so that shoppers can make healthy choices. We believe that total and complete disclosure should be the new norm for safe and healthy products, which is why we require full disclosure of ALL fragrance ingredients for products undergoing certification. Our goal is to change the industry norm around ingredient secrecy.

We understand that some companies rely on confidential business information and trade secrets for protection. However, we also know that many companies, both large and small, have been fully disclosing ingredients for years without damage to their profits. We believe that full transparency can be accomplished without harm to a company’s bottom line—in fact, full transparency will increase consumer trust and confidence to increase profits.

MADE SAFE helps companies meet 100% ingredient transparency on labels so that everyone who uses MADE SAFE® certified products has access to ingredient information. We require disclosure because we know that companies making products from safe ingredients have nothing to hide. We know that ingredient integrity and access to ingredient and manufacturing information is increasingly important to consumers. Transparency fosters consumer trust in companies. At Made Safe, consumer trust is important to us so our program is based in science and independent research; we do all the hard work and homework so that people can fully trust certified products from the companies we work with.

What is “fragrance” and why is it an issue?

The word “fragrance” (aka “parfum”) is used as an umbrella term for a cocktail of natural essences and synthetic chemicals that make up product scents. Companies are legally allowed to keep individual fragrance ingredients secret because they’re deemed “confidential business information,” or “trade secrets.”

Unfortunately, many common fragrance ingredients can be toxic to human health. Phthalates have been linked to reproductive and developmental harm. Synthetic musks like galaxolide and tonalide are potential endocrine disruptors that don’t break down in our bodies or the environment and are commonly found in blood and breast milk.

The International Fragrance Association (IFRA), representing the world’s fragrance houses, has a published list of roughly 4,000 fragrance ingredients that lists chemicals and natural ingredients known to be used in fragrance. This is a helpful look into what goes into fragrance, but since fragrance ingredients aren’t required to be disclosed, consumers can be left guessing.

While IFRA is the public facing organization, The Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM), is the scientific organization that does the research IFRA uses to make their decisions on what ingredients are permitted. IFRA has a list of roughly 180+ ingredients that aren’t permitted in fragrance or have maximum levels of allowance based. IFRA’s list includes ingredients such as styrene (a carcinogen) and resorcinol (a known irritant and likely linked to endocrine disruption).

Other fragrance ingredients are parabens; although these are largely being phased out, common ones like methyl paraben and ethyl paraben are still found in products and are listed on Washington State’s Chemicals of High Concern to Children List.

In addition to chemicals linked to human health harm, some common fragrance ingredients are allergens. While not everyone reacts to allergens, people who are sensitive to them have a right to know if they’re used in products so they can avoid them.

It should also be noted that while some companies choose to follow IFRA’s rules, they aren’t mandatory in the United States and so some companies do not even adhere to IFRA’s guidelines as a starting point.

This is why, in addition to passing our screening process for ALL ingredients, sub-ingredients and so-called secret ingredients, MADE SAFE requires transparency. Some fragrance chemicals are merely considered “allergens”; however, if you have a particular allergy we believe it’s important for you to know if a product may contain that ingredient.

In short, without fragrance and full ingredient transparency, there’s no way for shoppers to know what’s actually inside of these fragrance or perfume catch-alls found on labels and in products. MADE SAFE proudly enforces fragrance and full ingredient transparency.

What is MADE SAFE’s stance on fragrance transparency?

We believe that transparency for fragrance, as well as other ingredients, is important. In addition to chemicals linked to human health harm, some common fragrance ingredients are allergens. While not everyone reacts to allergens, people who are sensitive to them have a right to know if they’re used in products so they can avoid them.

MADE SAFE supports fragrance-free products as a consumer products option. We require companies to provide 100% transparency on ingredients so that individuals, knowing their own sensitivities, can make informed decisions on what to buy. Without transparency, there’s no way for consumers to know what’s actually inside of these fragrance or perfume/parfum/scent catch-alls found on labels and in products. MADE SAFE proudly enforces fragrance transparency.

Do flavors have the same issues as fragrance?

In the personal care and beauty product industry, flavor ingredients function a lot like fragrance ingredients. Many flavors are formulas acquired through traditional “fragrance houses.” Because the flavor formulas are considered intellectual property, to which fragrance houses own the rights, the formulas can legally be kept secret as confidential business information. This means that companies aren’t required to reveal the ingredients that actually make up that “flavor.” When you see the word “flavoring” (“natural” or otherwise) on packaging, look for a description of what that flavor is made of—otherwise it may be a cocktail of ingredients including synthetic chemicals, masking agents, flavor enhancers, dyes and more.

As with fragrance, MADE SAFE requires transparency of flavor ingredients so that people can make informed buying decisions. We also encourage companies to make flavor-free products for those who want to forego flavor altogether.

Without flavor and full ingredient transparency, there’s no way for shoppers to know what’s actually inside of these so-called “flavor” ingredients found on labels and in products. MADE SAFE proudly enforces flavor and full ingredient transparency.

Are essential oils safe?

MADE SAFE permits the use of essential oil ingredients for scent after we have vetted them through our process. While essential oils may seem simple – they are oils made from plants – they are actually highly complex ingredients made up of many naturally-occurring subcomponents. While for some people that may make essential oils a poor choice, for most individuals the whole plant boosts overall health, as they contain beneficial ingredients like antioxidants. Essential oils, in their whole, unadulterated form, have been known to have incredible potency and beneficial properties when used properly.

MADE SAFE generally permits essential oils, although some of those essential oils may contain sub-ingredients which are allergens, because not everyone reacts to allergens. We require transparency so that people with particular allergies or sensitivities are able to shop with a full understanding of what is in their products.

We also have a fragrance-free area for people to shop for MADE SAFE certified products that contain no scent or essential oil ingredients. We ask our companies to consider making fragrance-free versions of their MADE SAFE products so that more people can have access to MADE SAFE products if they can’t tolerate any kind of scent.

Why does MADE SAFE permit some essential oils that can contain allergens?

Essential oils are extracted from plants. When intact as a whole extract, the essential oil can be very potent and should always be used according to manufacturers’ guidelines. The extracts themselves can contain sub-ingredients that, for some people, may be allergenic which may make essential oils a poor choice for those people. However, for most individuals, the whole plant boosts overall health, as they contain beneficial ingredients like antioxidants. Essential oils as a whole have been known to have incredible potency and beneficial properties when used properly.

MADE SAFE also requires transparency so that people with particular allergies or sensitivities are able to shop with a full understanding of what is in their products. Each essential oil must go through our rigorous evaluation process in order to determine whether that ingredient passes.

We also have a fragrance-free area for people to shop for MADE SAFE certified products that contain no scent or essential oil ingredients. We ask our companies to consider making fragrance-free versions of their MADE SAFE products so that more people can have access to MADE SAFE products if they can’t tolerate any kind of scent.

Are there harmful ingredients in some essential oils?

Essential oils are highly concentrated compounds derived from plant oils. Many plants themselves, and therefore essential oils, can contain some harmful ingredients if evaluated on their own. However, when approached and reviewed as a whole, they are considered safe for use when used properly. In fact, some researchers believe these harmful compounds may actually be part of what keeps a plant healthy in the wild. For the majority of people, naturally-derived essential oils (not oils derived from plants grown in a lab, but those that have evolved over time) contain many more powerful ingredients that promote health than they do ingredients that take away from it. To learn more about this, read this article.

MADE SAFE always urges users to follow usage guidelines provided with your essential oils and essential oil products and to consult an expert before making your own blends.

What’s the difference between an essential oil, concrete, absolute, and extract?

Essential oils have been pressed or steam-distilled from aromatic plants directly. This method for extraction, usually used in making skincare or therapeutic products, is non-chemical in nature. However, there are other ways to extract scent and aroma from plants. The strongest form is an absolute, which uses a chemical (often hexane) as a method for extraction and yields a higher-potency, longer-lasting scent, which makes this method more commonly used for perfumery. To make an absolute, one extracts with a chemical and yields a waxy substance often called a concrete. This can be used on its own or it can then be further extracted from to yield the absolute. CO2 extraction methods are popular as they can be used for essential oils and absolutes without using a petrochemical process and occur at low temperatures, making them good for skincare and therapeutic use alike. Extracts can be pressed from plants after soaking in a base such as oil. It is important to know if things are added to extracts such as preservatives or other additives.

Is natural fragrance better than synthetic fragrance?

MADE SAFE is not against synthetic fragrance as a matter of policy. We are aware that many known synthetic fragrance ingredients have been found to be allergens and some are endocrine-disrupting chemicals. However, we defer to our Screening Process to determine each and every ingredient. Thus, if a synthetic ingredient can pass our screen and meet our standards as not being known to harm human health or ecosystems, we will permit it.

I have MCS / I’m sensitive to all kinds of fragrance. What do you suggest?

We know that while lots of people like to find safer scents, there are just as many people who are sensitive to fragrance. Which is why we’re excited that MADE SAFE lists certified fragrance-free products here.

Fragrance is a tricky thing. Some people are allergic to certain essential oils. Sometimes even products that claim to be unscented can contain fragrance ingredients. In short, sometimes you just want the assurance that a product doesn’t contain ANY fragrance, which is why a third-party certification like MADE SAFE is helpful. We also encourage companies to make fragrance-free options for people sensitive to scent ingredients.

Is there a difference between plant-derived ingredients and “identical” ingredients made in a lab?

The honest answer is that the scientific community is unsure. Some scientists argue that when something appears to be chemically identical to a natural substance, it will behave in the body and environment in the same way that the natural substance behaves. However, other scientists assert that synthetic substances have the ability to behave differently. At MADE SAFE, we defer to our screening process, evaluating all substances individually—whether synthetic or natural—in order to make determinations about their safety. If there is not enough information about an ingredient, we exercise the Precautionary Principle, and choose not to pass the ingredient until there is sufficient evidence of safety.

Do all synthetic ingredients fail the MADE SAFE screening process?

Just because something is made in a lab doesn’t mean we will fail it. All ingredients go through our process. Providing there isn’t reason to invoke the Precautionary Principle, if a synthetically-produced item can pass our rigorous screening, then it can be used as a MADE SAFE ingredient.

Are preservatives harmful?

In manufacturing products like personal care products, cosmetics, and cleaners, water is often a necessary component. Where there’s water in a product, preservatives are necessary to prevent the growth of yeast, mold, bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. In today’s global marketplace, we recognize that many products are expected to have a long shelf-life and last for months or years without degrading, separating or spoiling. Preservatives are necessary to keep products shelf-stable, as well as to prevent inadvertent contamination by the consumer during use.

Most people want the performance of a good preservative, eliminating the need for refrigeration or tossing the product out after one use. The issue is that viable preservatives with zero human, environmental, or aquatic toxicity are in short supply and don’t always work in some mixtures for them to have complete coverage. This is why you’ll often see more than one preservative listed on a label, often a primary preservative and multiple boosters.

Preservatives can often be harsh and have a range of toxicity issues for humans or other animals in the ecosystem. For example, a common class of preservatives known generally as parabens are linked to increased risk of breast cancer. Methylchloroisothiazolinone, which is an isothiazolinone type of preservative, is incredibly toxic to aquatic life.

MADE SAFE is very careful about the preservatives we allow in certified products and adhere to our scientific process to make our determinations.

In products, using essential oils can be a good option because they have natural preservation properties. However, they don’t necessarily work as effectively in all types of products and may still need to be mixed with other preservatives depending on the formulation.

Many preservatives are controversial and some are problematic by the very nature of what they do. And yet most people would agree that we need products to be preserved and to last a reasonable length of time. In addition to looking for the MADE SAFE seal, we encourage consumers to try products with fewer preservatives and see what works best for them.

What is synthetic biology?

Synthetic biology is sometimes referred to as GMO 2.0. There is still much debate on the exact definition of synthetic biology. MADE SAFE believes that synthetic biology sits at the intersection of engineering, biotechnology, chemistry, and genetics. Synthetic biology, often called synbio, could hold great promise for the future and it could also be dangerous.

Without the evolutionary process or proper research to show long-term effects, synthetic biology-derived ingredients’ true impact on the ecosystem is presently unknown. The proponents of synthetic biology say that “synbio” materials are genetically identical to the real thing, and are therefore are often sold as “identical to real ones” grown in nature. However, we’d like to see more studies on how synbio ingredients will behave in the natural world before widely releasing them into the environment.

Unfortunately, hundreds of synthetic biology ingredients are already on the market, are being used widely, and are virtually unregulated. New synthetic biology ingredients are quickly hitting the market. We think more testing is needed, and so MADE SAFE sides with the Precautionary Principle, urging companies to act with caution until more testing is conducted.

We will continue to investigate whether or not synbio ingredients are considered MADE SAFE ingredients. Until then, we proceed cautiously and encourage moving the market away from these ingredients until more is known.

How does synthetic biology differ from GMOs?

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) are organisms that have been genetically engineered. This means the organism’s DNA has been manipulated through human intervention. It’s important to note that genetic modification is the result of artificial human intervention in the laboratory, as opposed to intervention through crossbreeding.

GMOs usually contain traces of GMO DNA in the material’s final form. This can be detected using laboratory testing. However, in synthetic biology, a material can be genetically manipulated in manufacturing, but the final product will not contain GMO DNA.

This is because in synthetic biology, scientists might use a GMO feedstock, grow it in the lab, and then use special genetic engineering techniques to alter the feedstock. This results in a final product will not contain GMO DNA, even though the feedstock was GMO. Scientists could also use non-GMO feedstock, but then splice or edit genes in production, but still no GMO DNA can be detected.

It is helpful to think of GMO as cutting and pasting DNA, then copying it. With some synthetic biology techniques, scientists do not simply cut and paste; instead, the genetic material is essentially “written” from scratch. In other techniques, scientists manipulate an organism to product a substance that it would not produce under normal conditions. There are also other techniques used in synthetic biology.

The nuance between synbio and GMO is why we require companies to prove certain high-risk ingredients are not derived through synthetic biology. This requires proof beyond a non-GMO certificate.

What are nanoparticles? Are they safe?

There is currently no scientific consensus on the size of particle which constitutes a nanoparticle. Generally, nanoparticles can be 1000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.

Nanoparticles are used in many different products from baby formula to cosmetics and sunscreen to packaging and more.

Despite nanoparticles becoming increasingly common across industries, they have not been properly assessed for human or environmental health effects, nor are they adequately regulated. As of 2017, the EPA has made some strides in regulation, requiring those companies that manufacture nanoparticles notify the EPA. This is a step in the right direction, but is not comprehensive regulation. The result is that numerous new and untested nanoparticle technologies are hitting the market at an unprecedented pace.

Researchers don’t quite understand the impacts nanoparticles could have on human health and the environment. However, because of their infinitesimally small size, nanoparticles may be more chemically reactive and therefore more bioavailable. The dramatic difference in size can also cause nanoparticles of a substance to behave differently than larger particles of the same substance.

Because of the uncertainty of the impacts of nanoparticles, at MADE SAFE, we exercise the Precautionary Principle and avoid them, until extensive scientific testing proves them to be safe.

Do you permit combinations of ingredients such as sodium benzoate and citric acid?

It has been reported that the combination of sodium benzoate (a common, food grade preservative) with citric acid can form a chemical reaction yielding the known carcinogen benzene. This is why the two ingredients are no longer found together in some sodas. We avoid the two in combination where the pH of the product is such that benzene could form in solution. At a neutral pH, this is not an issue for most personal care products. The MADE SAFE screening process investigates such nuances in ingredient combination and product formulation.

How can you be assured that the company is including all ingredients in the paper screening?

We work very closely with our companies. Companies who subject themselves to scrutiny that isn’t required by our government are heroic. They pay money to be screened because they believe in their products and are committed to changing the toxic status quo. Occasionally we find problems, and companies work diligently to resolve them so they can receive our seal. The companies that work with us are asked to disclose their ingredients fully to us and sign a binding agreement requiring them to do so. But they are also asked to fully disclose all of their ingredients for customers to see as well. We believe strongly in full transparency.

Questions on Certification & Screening

How can you be assured that the company has not changed its formulation over time?

We require that products be reviewed as formulations, ingredients, or supply chain changes occur. In addition, MADE SAFE products must undergo screening once every three years in order to ensure things haven’t changed without our knowledge.

Where did you source your list of toxicants for your database?

Our unique and comprehensive proprietary database was constructed for the express purpose of screening products to determine that contained ingredients are not known or suspected to cause human health harm. We have reviewed and scrutinized well-recognized, scientifically authoritative lists from organizations and government agencies around the world in order to ensure that our collective list is both accurate and complete. Sources of information include but are not limited to:

Simply put, we do not allow known behavioral toxins, carcinogens, developmental toxins, endocrine disruptors, fire retardants, heavy metals, neurotoxins, high risk pesticides / insecticides / herbicides, reproductive toxins, toxic solvents or harmful VOCs to be included in products that we certify. We also screen further looking for human health or environmental harm using the most conservative approach. If there is any question, we exercise the Precautionary Principle to prioritize human health.

I would like to see the list. Where can I find the database?

Our Ingredient Database is proprietary. We share its contents with companies, retailers, organizations, agencies, and scientists who sign an agreement to work with us. We have thousands of chemicals in our database and over time we plan to create an accessible format for general public use. In the meantime, if you’d like to work with us or support our work please contact us.

What is the cost of the MADE SAFE screening, and what is included?

We charge an annual fee to all companies who agree to work with us, which includes access to our Ingredient Database, participation in our Education, Advocacy, and Outreach work, event opportunities, and networking with our range of participating stakeholders. (Annual Fees are on a sliding scale and determined by a mix of things including gross revenue, number of products, company size, and countries where products are sold.) For screening, there is an additional per product fee. The screening fee covers review of ingredients, checks for likely contamination and supply chain issues, running ingredients through our Ingredient Database, as well as evaluating new ingredients for persistence, bioaccumulation, general, aquatic, and animal toxicity. It also covers the complete Screening Report companies receive with the data found on each ingredient reviewed. For specific information on how you can work with us please contact us here.

What is the MADE SAFE Nontoxic Certified™ process?

MADE SAFE Nontoxic Certified™ means that a product has passed MADE SAFE certification and gone on to be lab-tested to ensure that the accessible or used parts of an item or product have been tested and found it is not toxic. It’s about starting with a base of safe ingredients, yet going over and above through actual lab testing of ingredients to ensure that ingredient mixtures won’t cause harm. This is not the standard way of doing business today – however, it’s the best way to ensure that an item, in totality, as it is sold, is nontoxic. We believe Nontoxic Certification is the Gold Standard of product testing and the future of product formulation.

MADE SAFE Nontoxic Certified lab-tests products to ensure that no new toxins are formed in mixture, there’s no supply chain contamination, and to validate the screening in a lab environment. (NOTE: The type of product, what is accessible, the ultimate use as well as manufacturing determine what lab tests need to be performed.)

We recognize that this approach is novel. Most products aren’t manufactured with human health implications in mind. We are pioneers in an emerging field, and there is still much to be learned. We won’t always be perfect. But we have built programs that allow products to be vetted against some of the best information available today. We update our processes regularly. And the bottom line is that we prioritize people with every one of our decisions. We always come back to our core belief that the products we use on our bodies, for our children, in our homes and in our communities should be safe. Without external regulation of the thousands of chemicals in commerce today, the MADE SAFE programs provide a logical path toward a healthy product marketplace.

Do you work on a sliding scale?

We do work on a sliding scale. Annual fees are determined by revenue, number of products, company size and countries where products are sold. We’d love to talk with you to learn more and find a way to make our certification affordable for you. To get started working with us and request an estimate, please complete the form on this page.

How will certified products benefit from partnership?

Certified products will be promoted by us in the media, social media and through our education, advocacy and outreach campaigns. Our mission is to change the kind of products that are being made, to consciously shift share to better, safer products and to help consumers, companies and retailers navigate the problem of so many chemicals and ingredients in the marketplace. Certified companies will enjoy being a part of all of our efforts to further our mission as well as being confident that their products have been third-party vetted in a rigorous, scientific process.

How does your “seal of approval” compare to the other “eco” labels out there?

We are the only human health certification that crosses consumer product categories, across store aisles, from baby to personal care to household and beyond.

We work under NDA with companies and are are the most comprehensive certification, going beyond “red lists” to attempt to close data gaps by actually screening ingredients that have no publicly available data. We follow the Precautionary Principle: in cases where we can’t obtain enough data to determine that an ingredient won’t cause harm to human health, we don’t allow it in certified products.

We evaluate ingredients for bioaccumulation, environmental persistence, off-gassing as well as animal and aquatic toxicity.

We also uniquely work with companies during the research and development phase of formulation and reformulation to help develop safe and healthy products from the get-go. This is the future of green chemistry.

MADE SAFE makes it easy for people to find and buy products made without known toxic chemicals. We also give companies a road map to making safer products, and make it easy for retailers to select products that aren’t known to cause harm.

We are uniquely focused on creating a safe and sustainable future.

Why would a company with organic or other certifications pursue the MADE SAFE seal?

Organic certification is terrific! We think organic certification does a great job. That said, it is an agricultural standard, so the further companies are from agriculturally produced products, the less it specifically applies. Products that are USDA Organic or sourcing organic ingredients receive credit in our program as well. Many companies that we work with see the value in being both Organic and MADE SAFE certified, as we have a very specific mandate and approach to vet ingredients that are safe for use in our homes, with our children and on our bodies. Our approach is new and unlike any other program out there. It was created by and for Moms in order to protect our collective health for a safe and sustainable future.

Will you / Do you certify packaging?

We are currently working on our best practices requirements for packaging. Once they are complete we will be rolling them out widely. When you start to dig deep into how a product is formulated, you realize that what the product is wrapped in also matters. Sometimes it is important because the packaging itself can leach chemicals into your carefully crafted product; other times it’s a matter of environmental concern. Regardless, it is something that we believe deserves attention. Eventually we look forward to sharing our process for MADE SAFE Packaging with businesses around the globe.

“What is a durable good product and how is it assessed for MADE SAFE certification?

A durable good product is a consumer product that only needs to be purchased infrequently because it is designed to last. Durable good products include things like furniture, jewelry, mattresses, appliances, and toys.

When we evaluate a durable good product, we examine all components that are on/in the product that will be accessible through normal use following the manufacturer guidelines, and as it is expected to be used.

For example, to certify a mattress, we examine all components of that mattress, inside and out, because we want to be sure that those parts won’t contribute to off-gassing that could be harmful to health. When evaluating toys, strollers, and other goods, we are evaluating the parts of the products that come in contact with the user according to expectations of use. For example, if a stroller wheel is made from plastic and metal, we would defer to other governance and safety rules for those items because it doesn’t come into contact with the user. Our process would focus on the seat, cushion, and materials that the infant or child is regularly touching.

How are regrettable substitutions avoided with MADE SAFE?

As part of the MADE SAFE Screening Process, we investigate each ingredient and note whether it is similar to another substance. We use this information to assess whether or not a new, but similar, chemical is likely to cause harm and lead companies down the path of regrettable substitution.

What is the difference between a hazard-based approach and a risk-based approach?

MADE SAFE approaches screening differently than most other established screening and vetting programs: we use a hazard-based approach, rather than a risk-based approach. A risk-based approach says, “at what percentage or level can we use this ingredient before it’s toxic?” A hazard-based approach like ours says, “if an ingredient is toxic whatsoever, it shouldn’t be used.”

We always evaluate ingredients in accordance with the MADE SAFE Screening Process. We do not allow ingredients that are linked to human health or ecosystem harm. Our process is transparent and can be viewed here.

Why is MADE SAFE a Journey?

MADE SAFE is a journey, not just for companies devoted to making cleaner, healthier, more sustainable products, but also for consumers demanding them. It is important for people to understand that the performance of their products may come with a chemical trade-off. We want people to have access to the information they need to make decisions about their health, and choose which products they are willing or unwilling to compromise on. Made Safe is a huge leap forward to guiding consumers and the marketplace to strive for the safest, most sustainable products possible. We hope that you will join us and be part of the journey; vote with your dollars and buy MADE SAFE products to help bring more inventive solutions and ever-safer products to market.

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The MADE SAFE Hazard List of Chemicals, Materials & Ingredients

 The MADE SAFE Hazard List™ of Chemicals, Materials and Ingredients names some of the worst toxic chemical offenders across product categories, as well as chemicals we frequently receive questions about, including what they are, where they’re found, and how they impact human or environmental health, and aquatic or animal life. This list is intended to provide guidance on common hazards in the marketplace… read more

A-D  |  E-O  |  P-V  |  Exceptions  |  References

1,4-Dioxane

This ingredient is classified both as an established carcinogen[1] and a likely carcinogen[2],[3] by multiple agencies. 1,4-dioxane is not intentionally added to products; rather, it is a contaminant by-product created when other specific ingredients are mixed together. Because the chemical is not intentionally added to products, it is not required to be listed on labels. It is often found in products that foam, such as laundry detergent, shampoo, bubble bath and baby wash. Chemicals that can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane include sodium laureth sulfate (see: Surfactants) and all PEG compounds (see: Polyethylene Glycol Compounds). Chemicals that include the clauses xynol, ceteareth, and oleth are also commonly contaminated.
Read more.

Aluminum

Heavy metal ingredient that can be a neurotoxin at high doses and in occupational settings.[4] Aluminum compounds are also used as pesticides, in medicines, and even medical devices. More than 25 different aluminum compounds are used in cosmetics. Aluminum is most well-known as a wetness and odor control in deodorant and antiperspirants. Aluminum chlorohydrate is one of the most common aluminum compounds used in cosmetics, especially in antiperspirants.[5] Scientists do not currently adequately understand how aluminum is absorbed through the skin, and therefore cannot assess the risk aluminum presents through using personal care products. However, three European reports assessing safety concluded that aluminum is not safe for use in cosmetics as it is currently used.[6] Because of aluminum’s potential and documented adverse effects, it is generally not allowed for use in certified products (see: Heavy Metals).

Example aluminum ingredients not permitted:

  • Aluminum acetate
  • Aluminum caprylate
  • Aluminum chloride
  • Aluminum chlorohydrate
  • Aluminum hydroxide
  • Aluminum oxide
  • Aluminum stearate

Ammonia and Ammonium

Ammonia is a clear gas that readily dissolves in liquid. It is abundantly naturally-occurring, but is also made for use in detergents, cleaning products, fertilizer, and hair dyes, as well as other industrial purposes. Ammonia can cause severe eye and respiratory irritation,[7] and even bronchitis and/or pneumonia.[8] At high levels, ammonia can cause health effects in occupational settings.[9] At low levels, ammonia can cause problems in individuals with asthma or who are sensitive.[10]

When ammonia comes in contact with the skin, it dissolves in the water present in the skin and transforms into ammonium hydroxide.[11] Ammonium hydroxide is a chemical capable of causing necrosis of whatever tissue it comes into contact with.[12] It is also an asthmagen and a sensitizer.[13]

Ammonia is often mixed with other chemical ingredients to create ammonium compounds, which are the forms of the chemical that are most often used as personal care product ingredients. Ammonia compounds like ammonium hydroxide, ammonium chloride, and ammonium glycyrrhizate are three common ammonium compounds used in personal care products.

There is little scientific information on the neurological, reproductive, and developmental effects of dermal exposure to ammonia.[14] Exposure via inhalation is the most dangerous route of exposure. Ammonia is well-known to be toxic to aquatic life.[15]

Ammonium Quaternary Compounds (Quats)

Quats are a type of ingredient that are composed of permanently charged ions. By modifying the ingredient’s molecular chains, different properties result, giving quats the ability to act in products in different capacities including as antibacterials, surfactants, anti-statics, preservatives, and moisturizers.[16]

New research on quats suggests that two of the most commonly used quats (alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride and didecyl diemethyl ammonium chloride) may be endocrine active ingredients that impact fertility in mice from ambient exposure.[17] While this research isn’t comprehensive, it suggests that quat compounds could be endocrine active within the human body too; more research is necessary.[18]

Data already exists linking some quats such as benzalkonium chloride to developmental, reproductive, and aquatic toxicity.[19] Quaternium-15, which releases formaldehyde, is a known carcinogen.[20] Quats may also cause the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines (see: Nitrosamines).[21]

These compounds may be found in disinfectant cleaners, sunscreens, moisturizers, conditioners, hairsprays, feminine washes, and more. There are many existing data gaps in research of quaternary compounds. MADE SAFE examines each quaternary compound with aim to close these data gaps.

Example quaternary compounds not permitted:

  • Benzalkonium chlorides (BACs). Also called alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chlorides (ADBACs)
  • Benzethonium chloride
  • Cetalkonium chloride
  • Cetrimonium chloride
  • Ditallow dimethyl ammonium chloride (DTDMAC). Also called quaternium-18
  • Didecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride (DDAC)
  • Quaternium- 7, 15, 26, 31, 60

Antibacterials and Antimicrobials

These ingredients are designed to kill germs and are found in liquid soap, soap bars, toothpaste, hand sanitizers, cleaning products, and more.

Example antibacterials and antimicrobials not permitted:

  • Triclosan and triclocarban (see: Triclosan and Triclocarban)
  • Benzalkonium chloride and benzethonium chloride (see: Ammonium Quaternary Compounds)
  • Chloroxylenol (see: Chloroxylenol)
  • Isothiazolinone Preservatives (see: Isothiazolinone Preservatives)

Artificial Colors and Dyes

Artificial colors can be derived from coal tar (see: Coal Tar Ingredients), but are more commonly made from petroleum.[22] A number of artificial colors, individually and in combination, have been associated with increased hyperactivity in children, including those with pre-existing hyperactivity and without.[23],[24],[25],[26] As a result of studies on hyperactivity, the United Kingdom banned a number of food dyes,[27] some of which are still legal in the United States.

Very little independent published research on artificial colorings exists, including research on mixtures of dyes, which are very common. There are significant data gaps, including very few long-term studies.[28] However, what research exists is cause for alarm. In addition to hyperactivity in children, food dyes have been linked to hypersensitivity,[29] allergic reactions,[30] hastened dermal absorption in damaged skin,[31] genotoxicity, and brain, bladder, and testes tumor growth.[32] Red 3, though recognized as a carcinogen by the FDA and banned in cosmetics, is still allowed for use in foods.[33]

The use of Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 account of 90 percent of all dyes used in commerce.[34] All three colorings can be contaminated with chemicals that are carcinogens.[35]

Although there are many existing data gaps in research of food colorings, a number of organizations have called for their ban. Colors can be added to foods, cosmetics, hair dyes, and personal care products. Every color and dye is subjected to our scientific process.

Example artificial colors not permitted:

  • Blue 1
  • Blue 2
  • Green 3
  • Red 3
  • Red 40
  • Yellow 5
  • Yellow 6 

Artificial Flavors

Artificial flavors are comprised of ingredients that appear to be chemically identical to naturally-occurring flavors. Like fragrance formulations, flavor formulations can be made up of many unique chemical ingredients, including hormone disruptors and allergens (see: Fragrance). Flavor formulations also contain ingredients called adjuvants[36] that are not intended to provide taste, like emulsifiers, solvents, preservatives, flavor modifiers, and more.[37] Compounded flavors (those containing many unique ingredients) typically only contain less than one percent of flavoring ingredients; the rest is composed of adjuvants.[38]

Synthetic flavor formulas are a backdoor for many chemicals to make their way into products. Because they are protected under federal law’s classification of trade secrets, individual ingredients in flavor formulations can go undisclosed, and can simply be listed as “artificial flavor” on packaging. Artificial flavors are found in cosmetics, flavored lip gloss and lip balm, flavored condoms and lube, food, and more. Artificial flavors are not banned in MADE SAFE certified products as a blanket rule; each ingredient is evaluated through our screening process. Read more.

Avobenzone

A common sunscreen ingredient (see: Sunscreen Chemicals). It is widely known this common ingredient is not photostable; when used without a stabilizing ingredient, UV light can break down avobenzone, rendering it an ineffective sunscreen. The breakdown of avobenzone can also cause the generation of free radicals within the skin. Free radicals can lead to oxidative damage and lipid peroxidation, which can lead to damage of lipids, DNA,[39] and the cell overall.[40]

Benzaldehyde

A local anesthetic found in perfume, cologne, hairspray, deodorant, shaving cream, shampoo, and soap. It’s likely an endocrine-disrupting chemical,[41] which may be irritating to the eyes and skin.[42]

Benzophenone

Sunscreen chemical (see: Sunscreen Chemicals) used in sunscreens, personal care products, cosmetics, and fragrance. Strong evidence indicates that benzophenone is a carcinogen.[43],[44] There is also some evidence of endocrine disruption.[45] The ingredient is toxic to aquatic life[46] and persistent in the environment.[47],[48] This ingredient is also called BMDBM, alpha-Oxodiphenylmethane, alpha-Oxoditane, benzoylbenzene, among others. This ingredient is distinct from benzophenone-3 (see: Oxybenzone).

Bisphenols

There are reportedly more than fifty bisphenol structures, including BPA, BPS, BPF, BPE, and others. The most data exist on BPA,[49],[50] but numerous bisphenols[51],[52] have also been linked to hormone disruption and early puberty. Evidence also suggests BPA alternatives may be linked to breast cancer.[53] Found in baby bottles, sippy cups, and other feeding containers, plastic food packaging, and canned food liners. Read more.

BPA

See: Bisphenols.

Bug Repellent Chemicals

Bug repellents are pesticides (see: Pesticides). They are made of both active and inert ingredients. It’s common for products to list only active ingredients on labels. The rest are listed simply as “inert ingredients,” which are ingredients that are not considered active repelling chemicals, but are used as solvents, preservatives, fragrances, or for other purposes. Many of those ingredients are also found within this list. Bug repellents are often formulated with synergistic chemicals that are designed to make the repellent work more effectively.

Some natural ingredients like essential oils can be used as insect repellent. These ingredients are subject to our screening process. [Download the full report Bug Repellent: What’s In It? and Fact Sheets.] For more information on bug spray ingredients, see their individual entries.

Example insect repellent ingredients not permitted:

  • DEET
  • High risk pesticides
  • Pyrethroids like cyfluthrin and permethrin

The MADE SAFE screening doesn’t allow the inclusion of high-risk pesticides (see: Pesticides). Therefore, we only approve products made without these chemicals, usually focusing on those that take a natural approach to bug repellent. Natural repellent may work for casual settings to diminish bites, but it cannot prevent disease. With the rise of Zika virus and concern for other mosquito-borne disease, we recognize there is a time and place for the use of bug repellent products that would not pass our screening process. We urge shoppers to become informed and stay on top of advice from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.

Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)

Synthetic antioxidants used to extend shelf life. These are linked to a wide range of health problems. BHA is described as inherently toxic to humans,[54] and has been linked to reproductive toxicity,[55] developmental toxicity,[56] and cancer.[57],[58],[59] BHT is closely related to BHA; there are many existing data gaps in the research on this ingredient. However, BHT is a toluene-based ingredient, which is associated with many adverse health effects (see: Toluene). Found in cosmetics, personal care products (mainly shampoos, deodorants, body lotions), and numerous food items. Read more.

Cadmium

Linked to kidney[60] and bone damage,[61],[62] reproductive toxicity,[63] as well as lung cancer.[64],[65] Cadmium, a heavy metal, is found in color cosmetics, painted toys, furniture, and children’s jewelry (see: Heavy Metals).

Chlorine Bleach

Commonly found in household cleaning products and can cause serious skin and eye damage, and irritation.[66] Bleach is harmful to aquatic life, both acutely and chronically.[67] The use of bleach in manufacturing processes can create dioxins (see: Dioxins).[68]

Chloroxylenol

An antibacterial chemical mostly found in hand soap and hand sanitizer (see: Antibacterials and Antimicrobials). With US federal mandate requiring the phase-out of triclosan and triclocarban (see: Triclosan and Triclocarban) in hand soaps, chloroxylenol will likely serve as a common replacement. There is limited evidence of endocrine disrupting capabilities of chloroxylenol.[69] While there is limited research on this ingredient, because of chloroxylenol’s potential endocrine active capabilities, MADE SAFE exercises the precautionary principle and does not permit the ingredient.

Chlorpyrifos

See: Pesticides.

Coal Tar Ingredients

Many are known carcinogens[70],[71],[72] derived from burning coal. They are used as colorants in hair dye, anti-dandruff agents, and to make color additives (see: Artificial Colors and Dyes). Also found in shampoo, scalp treatments, soaps, and lotions.

Cyfluthrin

Structurally resembles the notorious chemical DDT[73] and has a similar mode of action.[74] The chemical has endocrine disrupting capabilities,[75],[76] is a skin sensitizer, and a skin and eye irritant.[77] Cyfluthrin can alter sodium and potassium ion pumps in nerves, affecting their ability to function properly.[78],[79] In laboratory animals, cyfluthrin caused significant behavior changes[80] and disrupted liver function.[81] This chemical is toxic to aquatic life in the long term and the short term, as documented on multiple authoritative lists.[82] This chemical is used as a bug spray ingredient (see: Bug Repellent Ingredients) and is a pesticide (see: Pesticides).

DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide)

Found in sprays, and wipes designed to repel insects (see: Bug Repellent Chemicals and Pesticides). Large doses of DEET have been linked to skin blisters, seizures, memory loss, headaches, stiffness in joins, shortness of breath,[83] and skin irritation.[84] DEET is absorbed quickly through the skin,[85] and when mixed with some sunscreen chemicals, it was found to be absorbed even more quickly.[86]

DEET is a documented neurotoxin.[87],[88] When mixed with permethrin, another pesticide (see: Permethrin), the mixture can cause neural death in the brain,[89] and disease in the offspring of exposed adults.[90] There is very little information on DEET’s carcinogenic, endocrine disrupting or reproductive effects.[91]  More about DEET.

Dioxins and Furans

This is a class of chemically similar substances that are not intentionally added ingredients to products[92], but are by-products in the production of substances like pesticides,[93] iron, steel[94] and bleached products like paper and feminine care like pads and tampons.[95] Over 400 compounds in the dioxin-furan family have been identified.[96] Some polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are also considered to be under this umbrella.[332]

Dioxins and furans are associated with a number of negative health and environmental impacts. 2,3,7,8 TCDD, a very common chemical in this family, and the most toxic,[333]  is likely a carcinogen.[334] This chemical is so toxic that it is used as a means to measure the other toxicity of compounds in the dioxin and furan family.[335] Other dioxins and furans are also associated with cancer.[336],[337]

A number of chemicals in this family are likely endocrine disruptors, developmental toxins, and reproductive toxins.[338],[339],[340],[341],[342],[343] They are also associated with other health effects in people and/or laboratory animals like skin disorders, liver issues, and immune system problems.[344]

Dioxins are considered POPs, persistent environmental pollutants; they stick around in the environment without degrading.[345] Dioxins biomagnify up the food chain, meaning they’re present in higher concentrations in animals at the top of the food chain.[346] Read more.

E-O

Ethoxylated Ingredients

In a process called ethoxylation, ethylene oxide, a chemical associated with multiple forms of cancer,[97] is added to other ingredients to make them less harsh. Ethoxylated ingredients include sodium laureth sulfate, and many chemicals that end in “eth,” which often denotes ethoxylation, like ceteareth and oleth.[98] They also include PEGs like polysorbates (see: Polyethylene Glycol Compounds). Ethoxylated ingredients can be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane (see: 1,4-Dioxane).

Ethylene Glycol

Used as an antifreeze and as a solvent. The chemical is highly toxic when consumed;[99] however, there are limited studies on exposure dermally or through inhalation.[100] Scientists don’t have enough information on these routes of exposure to determine what effects ethylene glycol might have on the human body. Because of this uncertainty, MADE SAFE exercises the precautionary principle and doesn’t permit this ingredient.

Ethylene Oxide

See: Ethoxylated Ingredients.

Flame Retardants

These are linked to long-term impacts like endocrine disruption,[101],[102] lower IQ,[103],[104] hyperactivity,[105] altered sexual development,[106],[107] fertility issues,[108] thyroid dysfunction,[109] and cancer.[110] Many flame retardant chemicals are persistent in the environment.[111],[112] What’s worse, they don’t actually provide more time to escape in a fire.[113] Found in foam-based furniture like mattresses (see: Foam), sofas, rug pads, some clothing like children’s pajamas, electronics, cars, car seats, and more.

The groups of flame retardants listed below are of the most concern.[114] However, because many flame retardant chemical mixtures are proprietary information, it is difficult to determine the true extent to which flame retardants may cause human health and environmental issues.

  • Halogenated flame retardants chemicals: those containing chlorine, bromine, iodine, or fluorine. This class includes flame retardants sometimes referred to as brominated or chlorinated flame retardants.
  • Organophosphorus flame retardants: those containing phosphorous bonded to carbon.

Flavor

See: Artificial Flavors.

Fluoride

Neurotoxin[115] in many municipal water supplies, as well as frequently in toothpaste and mouthwash. Exposure to fluoride may impact IQ.[116],[117]

Foam

Polyurethane foam and synthetic latex foam are the most common types. Both are problematic for emitting volatile organic compounds (VOCs),[118],[119],[120] some of which can irritate eyes, nose and throat, cause headaches, and some are linked to cancer. Foam is also usually treated with toxic flame retardants (see: Flame Retardants). Read more.

Formaldehyde

Linked to cancer[121],[122] and short-term health impacts, including irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat,[123] and allergic skin reactions and skin rashes.[124] Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives can also cause the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines (see: Nitrosamines).[125] This chemical is most commonly found in personal care products and cosmetics in the form of formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. It is also found in pressed wood products like particleboard,[126] furniture, and cabinets, and personal care and salon products like shampoos, liquid baby soaps, nail polish, nail hardener, nail glue, eyelash glue, and chemical hair straighteners.[127]

Example formaldehyde-releasing preservatives not permitted:

  • Quaternium-15
  • DMDM hydantoin
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Diazolidinyl urea
  • Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
  • 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol

Read more.

Fragrance

Used as an umbrella term for dozens of different ingredients that make up a particular scent. Many common fragrance ingredients, like phthalates (see: Phthalates) and synthetic musks (see: Synthetic Musks), are toxic to human health. Neither synthetic nor natural fragrances pass or fail categorically. Instead, we rely on our screening process to make that determination for each individual fragrance ingredient. Read more.

Furans

See: Dioxins and Furans.

Galaxolide

See: Synthetic Musks.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Genetically modified organisms are organisms that have been genetically engineered. This means the organism’s DNA has been manipulated through artificial human intervention in the laboratory (as opposed to intervention through cross-breeding). GMOs usually contain traces of GMO DNA in the material’s final form that can be detected using laboratory testing. There is simply not enough known about how GMOs interact with human health and the entire ecosystem.[128] As such, we exercise the precautionary principle and don’t permit them in certified products.

Grapefruit Seed Extract (Synthetic)

Commercially made grapefruit seed extract often includes synthetic antimicrobials or preservatives.[129] It can be adulterated with harmful chemicals like benzalkonium chloride and triclosan.[130] MADE SAFE permits grapefruit seed extract when 100 percent naturally derived and unadulterated; synthetic forms are the only forms of this ingredient that are not permitted.

Heavy Metals

Many are potent neurotoxicants and have been linked to hormone disruption. Found in some toys, cosmetics, children’s face paints, and gear such as car seats. For more information on heavy metals, see each metal’s specific entry within this document.

Example heavy metals not permitted:

  • Aluminum
  • Cadmium
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Nickel

Homosalate

Common sunscreen ingredient (see: Sunscreen Chemicals) and a potential endocrine disruptor.[131],[132] Because scientists don’t know enough about this environmentally persistent ingredient,[133] it is difficult to determine the full scale of potential environmental and human health impacts.[134] Because of this lack of comprehensive data and some evidence of endocrine disruption, MADE SAFE exercises the precautionary principle, avoiding the use of this ingredient.

Hydroquinone

Found in skin-lightening creams and is linked to cancer,[135] organ toxicity,[136] and skin irritation.[137] Hydroquinone is a potential endocrine disruptor.[138]

Isothiazolinone Preservatives

Found in cleaning products, shampoo, conditioner, body wash and other common personal care and household products. These ingredients are also becoming increasingly common substitutions for triclosan in hand soaps (see: Antibacterials and Antimicrobials). Two of the most commonly used ingredients of this class are methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone. Both are known irritants, sensitizers, and causes of contact skin allergies.[139],[140] Methylchloroisothiazolinone is toxic to aquatic life.[141] Methylisothiazolinone is a potential endocrine disruptor.[142]

Lead

Potent neurotoxin linked to developmental issues,[143] and learning, language and behavioral problems.[144] Exposure to lead in pregnant women is also linked to miscarriage and low birth weight.[145] This heavy metal is found in lipstick and many other color cosmetics, as well as painted toys, furniture, children’s jewelry, and some glazed cookware like crockpots[146] (see: Heavy Metals).

Mercury

Potent neurotoxicant.[147] Mercury can affect most bodily systems and can cause developmental health issues in utero and infancy.[148] Found in skin lightening creams. Mercury is a heavy metal (see: Heavy Metals).

Methylchloroisothiazolinone / Methylisothiazolinone

See: Isothiazolinone Preservatives.

Mineral Oil (Paraffin Oil, Paraffin Wax, Petrolatum, Liquid Paraffinum)

A soft wax made from petroleum by-products.[149] It is often used n spa services, like manicures and facials, and in personal care products like baby oil and cosmetics. Mineral oil consists mainly of hydrocarbons, which can pass the skin barrier and be absorbed.[150] In the manufacturing process, mineral oil products can also be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons,[151] some of which are known or potential carcinogens.[152] Read more.

Nanomaterials / Nanoparticles

Generally, nanoparticles can be 1000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.[153] However, there is currently no scientific consensus on the size of particle which constitutes a nanoparticle.[154] The European Union defines nanomaterials as between 1 and 100 nanometers (nm),[155] but a number of organizations recommend that the definition for food ingredients be 500 nm and below.[156] Nanoparticles are used in many different products from baby formula to cosmetics, and sunscreen to packaging.

Despite nanoparticles becoming increasingly common across industries, they have not been properly assessed for human or environmental health effects, nor are they adequately regulated. As of 2017, the EPA has made some strides in regulation, requiring companies that manufacture nanoparticles to notify the EPA.[157] This is a step in the right direction, but is not comprehensive regulation. The result is numerous new and untested nanoparticle technologies hitting the market at an unprecedented pace.

Researchers don’t quite understand the impacts nanoparticles could have on human health and the environment. However, because of their infinitesimally small size, nanoparticles may be more chemically reactive and therefore more bioavailable.[158] The dramatic difference in size can also cause nanoparticles of a substance to behave differently than larger particles of the same substance.[159]

Because of the uncertainty of the impacts of nanoparticles, and until extensive scientific testing proves nanomaterials to be safe, MADE SAFE avoid particles smaller than 100 nm. MADE SAFE sets the limit at 100 nm for certified products (which are all non-food items), which is congruent with the 100 nm limit set forth by the EU. Although it is outside of the certifying capacity of the organization, we support an increased limit to 500 nm in food items, as ingesting nanomaterials may be particularly harmful.[347]

Read more about silver nanoparticles

Naphthalene

This ingredient, also known as tar camphor, naphthene, and antimite,[161] is derived from crude oil coal tar and can be produced from burning substances (for example: tobacco smoke, car exhaust, wildfires,[162] and burning coal[163]), and is also found in certain manufacturing processes (like wood preservation, tanning, and dye production).[164] Naphthalene is used as pest control, and is a registered pesticide and insecticide.[165] Most common exposure to this chemical is through moth balls.[166] It has also been found in detergents, hairspray, charcoal lighters, and more.[167] The primary health concern associated with naphthalene is respiratory tract lesions, including possible carcinogenicity.[168] It is moderately harmful to fish, algae, and some wildlife.[169]

Nickel

Found in costume jewelry, children’s face paint,[170] and cosmetics, especially eye shadows, blushes, and powders.[171] The most common health effect of nickel is an allergic reaction.[172] In fact, in both children and adults, nickel is the most common allergen.[173] Nickel is banned in cosmetics in the European Union[174] and parts of Asia.[175] The EU has also restricted how nickel is used in products that are intended to be in contact with the skin for prolonged periods of time.[176] The United States has no such ban or restrictions on this heavy metal[177] (see: Heavy Metals).

Nitrosamines

Nitrosamines are impurities that result from the combination of certain compounds mixed together in formulation.[178] The two most common nitrosamines found in cosmetic products are N-nitrosodiethanolamine and N-nitrosobis (2-hydroxypropyl)amine.[179] Nitrosamine contamination is concerning because some nitrosamines, like N-nitrosodiethanolamine, N-Nitrosodimethylamine, and N-nitrosobis (2-hydroxypropyl)amine have been found to produce cancer in some species of lab animals.[180],[181] Many means of exposure, including oral and dermal, have been associated with cancer in many species of lab animals.[182] Therefore, nitrosamine’s potential carcinogenicity in humans has been deemed very likely.[183] Standard manufacturing practices create nitrosamines in food, beverages, personal care products, cosmetics, and condoms.

The following chemicals may cause nitrosamine formation:

  • Ammonium Quaternary Compounds (see: Ammonium Quaternary Compounds)[184]
  • Cocamidopropyl betaine[185]
  • DEA compounds[186]
  • Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (see: Formaldehyde)[187]
  • N-Phenyl-p-phenylenediamine[188]
  • Preservatives 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol[189],[190] and 5-bromo-5-nitro-1,30-dioxane[191]
  • TEA compounds[192]
  • Numerous others, as the presence of primary, second, and tertiary amines (chemical derivatives of ammonia) can generate the formation of nitrosamines[193]

Octinoxate

This ingredient is a reproductive toxin[194] and endocrine disruptor.[195],[196],[197],[198] It acts on multiple endocrine functions.[199] The ingredient’s abundance of endocrine disruption data put it on a number of hazard lists as a high concern.[200],[201],[202],[203] This ingredient is used as a sunscreen chemical (see: Sunscreen Chemicals).

Octisalate (aka Octyl salicylate)

This sunscreen ingredient (see: Sunscreen Chemicals) has some evidence of endocrine disruption.[204] There is limited toxicity information available on this ingredient; however, because of its potential endocrine disrupting abilities, MADE SAFE exercises the precautionary principle and avoids this ingredient.

Octocrylene

Often used as a stabilizer for another sunscreen chemical, avobenzone, which is very unstable in the presence of light (see: Avobenzone). There is limited evidence of endocrine disrupting activity.[205] Octocrylene bioaccumulates.[206] (See: Sunscreen Chemicals.)

Oxybenzone

A derivative of benzophenone[207] and a very common sunscreen ingredient (see: Sunscreen Chemicals). Oxybenzone is an endocrine disruptor, acting on multiple mechanisms of endocrine disruption.[208],[209],[210][211] The ingredient is also a contact allergen[212] and photoallergen,[213] meaning exposure to light is required to generate an allergic response. See more.

This ingredient is also called benzophenone-3, which is distinct from benzophenone (see: Benzophenone).

P-V

Parabens

Preservatives that help prevent microbial growth. Parabens mimic estrogen in the body.[214] Some parabens are linked to breast cancer,[215] and reproductive and developmental harm.[216],[217],[218], Found in personal care products including deodorant, shampoo, liquid soap, lotion, and cosmetics. See more.

Example parabens not permitted:

  • Butylparaben
  • Benzylparaben
  • Ethylparaben
  • Methylparaben
  • Propylparaben

Parfum

See: Fragrance.

PEG Compounds

See: Polyethylene Glycol Compounds.

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)

A diverse array of chemicals used in a wide range of consumer goods including cosmetics, cell phones, computers, automobiles, textiles (such as stain resistant fabrics), paints, adhesives, cookware, and more. There are currently more than 3,000 individual PFASs in the global marketplace.[219] While well-known examples such as PFOS and PFOA have largely been phased out of use, they have been replaced by PFASs with similar properties.[220] Many PFASs are persistent in the environment,[221],[222] bioaccumulate in humans and animals,[223] and elicit a range of toxic effects[224] like adverse effects on sexual function and fertility,[225] endocrine disrupting capabilities,[226] cancer,[227] developmental and reproductive toxicity,[228],[229]and more.[230]    See more. Read more about PFOA.

Perfume

See: Fragrance.

Permethrin

Similar to cyfluthrin (see: Cyfluthrin), permethrin is capable of acting as a neurotoxin.[231],[232] Exposure to permethrin has been associated with neural cell death in multiple parts of the brain, [233] and impairment of neural processing,[234] capable of causing problems with memory[235],[236]motor skills, and learning.[237] Permethrin is very toxic to wildlife, [238]particularly bees, aquatic life, and cats.[239] Permethrin is commonly found in bug repellents (see: Bug Repellent Ingredients), and treatments for lice, and is also used as a pesticide (see: Pesticides). See more.

Pesticides (High Risk)

MADE SAFE does not permit high-risk pesticides linked to human health or ecosystem harm as determined by our screening process. We also defer to the Pesticide Action Network’s PAN International List of Highly Hazardous Pesticides, a comprehensive list containing the chemicals that pose a variety of significant risks to shoppers.[240] In cases where there is not enough scientific information available, we exercise the precautionary principle and don’t allow that pesticide.

Some natural ingredients like essential oils can be used as pesticides. These ingredients are each individually subjected to our rigorous screening process. See more.

Examples pesticides not permitted:

  • Acetochlor
  • Atrazine
  • Chloropicrin
  • Chlorpyrifos – Read more.
  • DEET (see: Bug Repellent Chemicals and also DEET)
  • Glyphosate
  • Mercury compounds (see: Mercury)
  • Metolachlor
  • Metam sodium
  • Metam potassium
  • Paraquat
  • Pendimethalin
  • Pyrethroids including Cyfluthrin and Permethrin (see: Bug Repellent Chemicals and also Pyrethroids)

PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances)

See: Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) and read more about PFOA here.

PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid)

See: Per- and Polyfluoralkyl Substances (PFAS) and read more about PFOA here.

PFOS (Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid)

See: Per- and Polyfluoralkyl Substances (PFAS) and read more about PFOA here.

Phenoxyethanol

In recent years, this preservative has been hailed as a “greener” alternative and is widely used instead of parabens (see: Parabens) and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (see: Formaldehyde).

This preservative can be irritating for some,[361] including at high doses.[362] The FDA recommended discontinuing the use of a nipple cream containing this ingredient, as in nursing infants exposed via ingestion, phenoxyethanol can potentially induce vomiting or diarrhea and potentially depress the nervous system.[363] The FDA received no reports of injury, but released the statement due to potential harm.[364]

According to our screening process and available toxicological data, phenoxyethanol doesn’t build up in the body, doesn’t appear toxic to aquatic life, and is not persistent in the environment.[365]

In the EU and Japan, phenoxyethanol is permitted in formulation at less than 1 percent of the total product mixture.[366],[367] Thus, while we push for better alternatives, we too will allow it at less than 1 percent of formulation; however, not within infant products.

Phthalates

A class of plasticizing chemicals[241] used to make products more pliable or to increase the longevity of fragrances.[242] Phthalates are capable of disrupting the endocrine system in multiple different ways[243],[244],[245],[246],[247] including harming the male reproductive system,[248],[249],[250] harming the female reproductive system,[251],[252],[253] and developmental toxicity.[254],[255],[256] Some phthalates are also associated with cancer.[257],[258] Found in synthetic fragrance, hairspray, nail polish, makeup, as well as in numerous soft plastic materials such as vinyl flooring, shower curtains, raincoats, and rain boots.[259]  Read more. 

Example phthalates not permitted:

  • Benzyl butyl phthalate (BBzP or BBP)
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
  • Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP)
  • Diethyl phthalate (DEP)
  • Diisodecyl phthalate (DiDP)
  • Diisononyl phthalate (DINP)
  • Dioctyl phthalate (DnOP)
  • Di-n-hexyl phthalate (DnHP)

Plastics

Plastics are practically everywhere. They are used in packaging, toys, cosmetics, personal care products, kitchen utensils and storage, appliances, clothing, recreation gear, furniture, hardware, mattresses and more. Plastics are not permitted as direct ingredients in MADE SAFE personal care products or cosmetics. However, in some cases, MADE SAFE does allow 100 percent food-grade silicone.

There are a number of chemicals of concern in certain plastics; three primary ingredients of concern are bisphenols, phthalates, and PVC. For more information on these ingredients, see their individual entries. Many plastics are capable of leeching ingredients that can act as endocrine disruptors.[260] Read more.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

See: Dioxins and Furans.

Polyethylene Glycol Compounds (PEG Compounds)

These ingredients are often used as thickeners, softeners, moisture-carrying agents, and penetration enhancers. PEG compounds are formed by condensing water and ethylene oxide.[261] PEG compounds often appear notated as PEG followed by a number (ex: PEG-40) or as PEG followed by a number and then another ingredient (ex: PEG-20 cocamine). The latter represent polymer PEG compounds—combining a PEG compound with another ingredient. The number represents the molecular weight of the ingredient.[262]

The primary concern with PEG compounds is that because they are ethoxylated, they may be contaminated with the carcinogens ethylene oxide[263] and/or 1,4-dioxane[264],[265] (see: Ethoxylated Ingredients and 1,4-Dioxane). Some PEGs enhance penetrability of the ingredient itself, or for other ingredients into the skin.[266] This means that if a product containing a PEG contains other harmful ingredients, they might be able to penetrate the skin more easily.

Example polyethylene glycol compounds not permitted:

  • PEGs: PEG followed by a number like PEG-4, PEG-6, PEG-7, PEG-8, PEG-75, PEG-100, etc.
  • PEG polymers: PEGs followed by a number and another ingredient like PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil, PEG-20 lauramine, PEG-10 Dimethicone, etc.
  • Polysorbates (Polysorbate 20, Polysorbate 40, Polysorbate 60, Polysorbate 80, etc.): Polysorbates are formed by ethoxylating sorbitan and then adding a fatty acid. The number refers to the number of repeating polyethylene glycol units that form a chain (see: Ethoxylated Ingredients). Read more.

Polysorbates

See: Polyethylene Glycol Compounds (PEG Compounds)

Polyurethane

See Foam.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

PVC, often called vinyl, is a type of plastic that’s widely known as the most toxic plastic for health and the environment. PVC is used extensively in #3 and #7 plastics, which are pervasive across a wide range of products (toys, car interiors, shower curtains, clothing, flooring, solvents, perfumes, packaging, etc.).  Normally, PVC is a hard plastic, so in order to make it soft, manufactures add plasticizers, which are a group of individual or chemical compounds designed to make plastic softer and more flexible. Phthalates, a group of chemicals, are some of the most commonly used plasticizers[267] (see: Phthalates).

In its production, PVC releases a number of harmful chemicals including: dioxins, phthalates, ethylene dichloride, lead, cadmium, vinyl chloride, and more.[268] (For more information on some of these ingredients, see their individual entries.) Like most plastics, PVC has the capability to leech harmful chemicals like endocrine disruptors into the water or food it’s being used to contain.[269] Read more.

Preservatives

Many preservatives are controversial, and some are problematic by the very nature of what they do. However, most would agree that we need products to be preserved to last a reasonable length of time on the shelf and in our cabinets. For these reasons, we are very careful about the preservatives we allow in products. Many preservatives have a range of toxicity issues for humans and the environment. We evaluate each preservative individually to determine if it’s a MADE SAFE certified ingredient. See more.

Examples preservatives not permitted:

  • Formaldehyde releasers or derivatives (see: Formaldehyde)
  • Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone (see: Isothiazolinone Preservatives)
  • Parabens (see: Parabens)

Pyrethroids

The most common chemical class of bug repellent chemicals containing over 1,000 insecticides[270] (see: Bug Repellent Ingredients) and is also used as an agricultural pesticide (see: Pesticides). Because pyrethroids can easily pass the blood-brain-barrier, they can become toxic to the central nervous system,[271] potentially causing tingling in the face and hands, among other more serious effects.[272],[273] Many pyrethroids are not easily degraded in the environment, are toxic to wildlife and vegetation,[274] and are very toxic to aquatic life.[275]

Although there is information on pyrethroids’ neurotoxic potential and toxicity to aquatic life, there is limited information on carcinogenicity, endocrine disruption and reproductive effects. However, given pyrethroids’ neurotoxicity, MADE SAFE exercises the precautionary principle, avoiding this class of chemicals. Read more.

Quats

See: Ammonium Quaternary Compounds.

Resorcinol

Most commonly used in hair dyes, but also in hair bleaching, shampoos, and acne treatments. Resorcinol is associated with endocrine disruption.[355],[356] This ingredient has been classified as harmful and very harmful to aquatic life,[357,[358],[359] as well as harmful to terrestrial life.[360]

Retinol Derivatives (Vitamin A)

Natural vitamin A is an essential nutrient, but retinol and its derivatives are synthetic versions. Retinyl palmitate and retinoic acid, two common derivatives, have been associated with photocarcinogenicity, or the potential to cause cancer when exposed to sunlight.[276] Retinoic acid is also a developmental toxin[277] that is persistent in the environment.[278] Other synthetic vitamin A ingredients include retinyl acetate and retinyl linoleate. Using too much vitamin A in skin products has the potential to cause an excess of vitamin A in the body,[279] which can lead to liver damage, hair loss, birth defects, and more. These ingredients are common in moisturizer, anti-aging cream, anti-acne cream, and foundation.  Read more.

Siloxanes and Silanes (Silicon-Based Ingredients)

Siloxanes are a chemical group that form the backbone and building blocks of silicones. Silanes are modified silicon compounds. These ingredients are often used as emulsifiers and can be found in conditioners, deodorants, and other personal care products.

Many siloxanes are persistent in the environment,[280],[281],[282] and some are being evaluated by the European Union to potentially be classified as Persistent-Bioaccumulative-Toxic. Cyclotetrasiloxane (D4) is toxic to aquatic life.[283] D4 is also an endocrine disruptor.[284],[285],[286] and possible reproductive toxin.[287] Other siloxanes have some evidence of endocrine disrupting capabilities.[288]

There are some data gaps with these ingredients,[289] but existing information makes them chemicals of concern. Siloxanes are often found on many restricted lists.[290],[291],[292]

Example siloxanes and silanes not permitted:

  • Cyclotetrasiloxane (D4)
  • Cyclopentasiloxane (D5)
  • Cyclohexasiloxane (D6)
  • Cyclomethicone: (mixture of D4, D5 and D6)
  • Dimethicone
  • Dimethicone copolyol
  • Polydimethylsiloxane

Styrene

In cosmetics, this ingredient appears as “styrene/acrylates copolymer” on labels. It is primarily used in plastics (see: Plastics), rubber, and styrofoam. A number of forms of styrene have been associated with varying endocrine disrupting capabilities with varying amounts of evidence.[348], [349] Evidence from multiple government agencies suggests that some forms may cause cancer.[350],[351],[352],[353] Styrene is also highly toxic to aquatic life.[354]

Sunscreen Chemicals

Found in sunscreens, personal care products, hairsprays, cosmetics like SPF foundation, and fragrance (see: Fragrance).

Example sunscreen ingredients not permitted. See their individual entries for more information:

  • Avobenzone
  • Benzophenone
  • Homosalate
  • Octinoxate
  • Octisalate (aka Octyl salicylate)
  • Octocrylene
  • Oxybenzone (aka Benzophenone-3)

Read more.

Surfactants

Surfactants are ingredients that help things suds or lather. Surfactants are “surface active agents,” which means one end of the molecule is attracted to fat and the other end is attracted to water. Because water and oil usually like to remain separate in solution, surfactants can help hold water and oil together in solution. Because of their unique chemical properties, surfactants are used in a variety of products including laundry detergents, spermicide, car washes, industrial and home cleaners, engine decreases, dish soap, and the majority of personal care products like body wash, shampoo, conditioner, bubble bath, and more.

Their unique chemical properties also make these ingredients problematic for aquatic life. The adverse effects on aquatic organisms are well documented.[293],[294],[295],[296] Because of environmental harm, the EU requires all detergents, which are composed primarily of surfactants, on the market be fully biodegradable.[297] The EU also bans some surfactants based on their biodegradability.[298] The United States has no such regulations.

There are four types of surfactants: anionic (one negatively charged end), cationic (one positively charged end) (see: Quaternary Compounds), nonionic (no charge), and amphoteric (one positive and one negative end). Anionic is the class most commonly used in personal care products.

Example surfactants not permitted:

  • Alkyl benzene sulfonates (ABS)
  • Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALES)
  • Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS)
  • Cocoyl Sarcosine
  • Lauryl Sarcosine
  • Linear alkyl benzene sulfonates
  • Linear alkyl sodium sulfonates
  • PFAS (see: Perfluoralkyl substances)
  • Potassium Coco Hydrolyzed Collagen
  • Sodium Coco Sulfate (SCS)
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
  • TEA (Triethanolamine) Laureth Sulfate
  • TEA (Triethanolamine) Lauryl Sulfate
  • Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate
  • Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate

Synthetic Biology

Sometimes referred to as GMO 2.0. There is still debate on the exact definition of synthetic biology.[299] MADE SAFE believes that synthetic biology sits at the intersection of engineering, biotechnology, chemistry, and genetics. Synthetic biology, often called synbio, could hold great promise for the future and it could also be dangerous. Without the proper research to show long-term effects, synbio ingredients’ true impact on the ecosystem and humans is presently unknown.[300]

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) are organisms that have been genetically engineered (see: Genetically Modified Organisms). This means the organism’s DNA has been manipulated through artificial human intervention in the laboratory (as opposed to intervention through cross-breeding). GMOs usually contain traces of GMO DNA in the material’s final form that can be detected using laboratory testing. However, in synthetic biology, a material can be manipulated genetically in manufacturing, but the final product will not contain GMO DNA.

It’s helpful to think of GMO as cutting and pasting DNA, then copying it. With some synthetic biology techniques, scientists do not simply cut and paste; instead the genetic material is essentially “written” from scratch. In other techniques, scientists manipulate an organism to produce a substance that it would not produce under normal conditions.[301] There are also other techniques used in synthetic biology.[302]

Because of how little this technology has been studied, MADE SAFE is exercising the precautionary principle and choosing to avoid synthetic biology ingredients whenever possible. Read more.

Synthetic Musks

Galaxolide and tonalide are potential hormone disruptors[303] shown to build up in our bodies.[304] They’ve been detected in blood[305] and breast milk.[306] They are common ingredients in detergents, cleaning products, and fragrance formulations (see: Fragrance). See more.

Talc

Talc that is pure and uncontaminated is all right for general use. However, talc can be contaminated with asbestos because both minerals reside in close proximity in the earth.[307] Contamination of talc happens when it’s mined, and contaminated talc is linked to cancer.[308] Because of potential contamination, MADE SAFE exercises the precautionary principle and does not allow the use of talc in certified products. Talc is found in baby powder, foot powder, and cosmetics.

TCDD (2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin)

See: Dioxins and Furans.

Titanium Dioxide (Nano-sized Particles)

This whitening agent is commonly used in paint, sunscreen, and as food colorant. This ingredient is generally safe and permitted by MADE SAFE when it is not nanoparticle size (see: Nanoparticles). Read more.

Toluene

A petrochemical solvent linked to short-term problems like headaches, confusion, fatigue,[309] and eye, nose and throat irritation;[310]and long-term health impacts like kidney and liver damage,[311]reproductive harm,[312],[313] and developmental toxicity.[314] Found in nail polish, nail treatments, hair dyes, adhesives, and paint thinners.

Triclosan and Triclocarban

These ingredients are designed to kill germs and are frequently used in products that claim to be “antimicrobial” or “antibacterial,” like antibacterial soaps, detergents, house-cleaners, hand sanitizers and other similar products (see: Antibacterials & Antimicrobials).

Triclosan and triclocarban are known endocrine-disrupting chemicals.[315],[316],[317],[318],[319],[320],[321],[322] These ingredients are also toxic to the aquatic environment.[323],[324],[325] The FDA banned the use of triclosan, a registered pesticide,[326] and triclocarban in hand soaps effective 2017, stating that soap works equally well for reducing the spread of germs without the toxic side-effects.[327] However, the ingredients will still be allowed for use in other personal care products like toothpaste, body wash, and hand sanitizer.[328] Read more.

Triethanolamine (TEA)

Used commonly as a synthetic emulsifier. Found in a variety of personal care products including moisturizers, cosmetics, conditioners, and sunscreen. This ingredient has been associated with potential endocrine disruption,[329] and skin sensitization.[330] TEA is also an asthma trigger.[331]

Vinyl

See: Polyvinyl Chloride.

Vitamin A

See: Retinol Derivatives.

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Exceptions

Exceptions to the Rules, Trace Amounts & Governmental Allowances

There are certain products where the use case is imperative to consider. That is why we look at in what capacity a shopper interacts with and uses a product, per the manufacturer’s guidelines, so that we can assess the issues unique to each and every product. Unfortunately there are times where we find that manufacturing processes and ingredient practices haven’t caught up with MADE SAFE’s stringent standards and where there is no safer available substitution for the function of a certain ingredient. For example, if there is a governmental mandate, rule or guideline, we may have to defer to that allowance and make a “use case exception.” This is extremely rare, and we never make use case exceptions for chemicals that fall into the categories on our Primary Toxicants list:

  • Behavioral Toxins
  • Reproductive Toxins
  • High Risk Pesticides
  • Developmental Toxins
  • Heavy Metals
  • Toxic solvents
  • Neurological Toxins
  • Carcinogens
  • Harmful VOCs

We constantly search for alternatives and are creating awareness around the need for green chemistry for safe substitutions at the company, manufacturer, and raw supplier level. We also are interested in seeing stricter regulations. Until then, our goal is to move manufacturers and suppliers to commit to providing better, cleaner, and safer ingredient alternatives.

If you are a company interested in working with us start here.

If you want to keep up-to-date on all things MADE SAFE, sign up for our newsletter here.

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References

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[2] Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA). (2013). Toxicological review of 1,4-dixoane. Washington, DC. Retrieved from https://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/iris/iris_documents/documents/toxreviews/0326tr.pdf

[3] National Toxicology Program, (NTP). (2016). Fourteenth report on carcinogens. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/pubhealth/roc/index-1.html#toc1

[4] Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, (ATSDR). (2008). Toxicological profile for aluminum. Centers for Disease Control. Retrieved from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp22.pdf

[5] French Agency in Charge of Cosmetic Products, (AFSSAPS). (2011). Risk assessment related to the use of aluminum in cosmetic products. Retrieved from http://www.ansm.sante.fr/var/ansm_site/storage/original/application/424d34a9741c36907c95baa1ac838183.pdf

[6] Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety, (SCCS). (2014). Opinion on the safety of aluminum in cosmetic products. European Union: Retrieved from https://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/consumer_safety/docs/sccs_o_153.pdf

[7] Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, (ATSDR). (2004). Toxicological profile for ammonia. Centers for Disease Control. Retrieved from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp126.pdf

[8] Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, (ATSDR). (2004). Toxicological profile for ammonia. Centers for Disease Control. Retrieved from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp126.pdf

[9] Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, (ATSDR). (2004). Toxicological profile for ammonia. Centers for Disease Control. Retrieved from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp126.pdf

[10] Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, (ATSDR). (2004). Toxicological profile for ammonia. Centers for Disease Control. Retrieved from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp126.pdf

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[12] Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, (ATSDR). (2004). Toxicological profile for ammonia. Centers for Disease Control. Retrieved from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp126.pdf

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[16] Melin, V. E., Potineni, H., Hunt, P., Griswold, J., Siems, B., Werre, S. R., & Hrubec, T. C. (2014). Exposure to common quaternary ammonium disinfectants decreases fertility in mice. Reproductive Toxicology, 50, 163-170. doi:10.1016/j.reprotox.2014.07.071

[17] Melin, V. E., Melin, T. E., Dessify, B. J., Nguyen, C. T., Shea, C. S., & Hrubec, T. C. (2016). Quaternary ammonium disinfectants cause subfertility in mice by targeting both male and female reproductive processes. Reproductive Toxicology, 59, 159-166. doi:10.1016/j.reprotox.2015.10.006

[18] Melin, V. E., Melin, T. E., Dessify, B. J., Nguyen, C. T., Shea, C. S., & Hrubec, T. C. (2016). Quaternary ammonium disinfectants cause subfertility in mice by targeting both male and female reproductive processes. Reproductive Toxicology, 59, 159-166. doi:10.1016/j.reprotox.2015.10.006

[19] Melin, V. E., Melin, T. E., Dessify, B. J., Nguyen, C. T., Shea, C. S., & Hrubec, T. C. (2016). Quaternary ammonium disinfectants cause subfertility in mice by targeting both male and female reproductive processes. Reproductive Toxicology (Elmsford, N.Y.), 59, 159-166. doi:10.1016/j.reprotox.2015.10.006

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[21] Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety, (SCCS). (2012) Opinion on nitrosamines and secondary amines in cosmetic products. European Commission. Retrieved from https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/health/files/scientific_committees/consumer_safety/docs/sccs_o_090.pdf

[22] Center for Science in the Public Interest. (2010). Food dyes: A rainbow of risks. Retrieved from https://cspinet.org/sites/default/files/attachment/food-dyes-rainbow-of-risks.pdf

[23] McCann, D., Barrett, A., Cooper, A., Crumpler, D., Dalen, L., Grimshaw, K., . . . Stevenson, J. (2007). Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: A randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. The Lancet, 370(9598), 1560-1567. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61306-3

[24] Artificial food colouring and hyperactivity symptoms in children. (2009). Prescrire International, 18(103), 215. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19882794

[25] Schab, D. W., & Trinh, N. T. (2004). Do artificial food colors promote hyperactivity in children with hyperactive syndromes? A meta-analysis of double-blind placebo-controlled trials. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics: JDBP, 25(6), 423-434. doi:10.1097/00004703-200412000-00007

[26] Bateman, B., Warner, J. O., Hutchinson, E., Dean, T., Rowlandson, P., Gant, C., . . . Stevenson, J. (2004). The effects of a double blind, placebo controlled, artificial food colourings and benzoate preservative challenge on hyperactivity in a general population sample of preschool children. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 89(6), 506-511. doi:10.1136/adc.2003.031435

[27] Ministers agree food colour ban: Ministers have agreed that six artificial food colourings should be phased out after research found a link with hyperactivity in children. (2008, Nov 12,). BBC. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7725316.stm

[28] Center for Science in the Public Interest. (2010). Food dyes: A rainbow of risks. Retrieved from https://cspinet.org/sites/default/files/attachment/food-dyes-rainbow-of-risks.pdf

[29] Center for Science in the Public Interest. (2010). Food dyes: A rainbow of risks. Retrieved from https://cspinet.org/sites/default/files/attachment/food-dyes-rainbow-of-risks.pdf

[30] Center for Science in the Public Interest. (2010). Food dyes: A rainbow of risks. Retrieved from https://cspinet.org/sites/default/files/attachment/food-dyes-rainbow-of-risks.pdf

[31] Lucová, M., Hojerová, J., Pažoureková, S., & Klimová, Z. (2013). Absorption of triphenylmethane dyes brilliant blue and patent blue through intact skin, shaven skin and lingual mucosa from daily life products. Food and Chemical Toxicology: An International Journal Published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association, 52, 19-27. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2012.10.027

[32] Center for Science in the Public Interest. (2010). Food dyes: A rainbow of risks. Retrieved from https://cspinet.org/sites/default/files/attachment/food-dyes-rainbow-of-risks.pdf

[33] Center for Science in the Public Interest. (2010). Food dyes: A rainbow of risks. Retrieved from https://cspinet.org/sites/default/files/ttachment/food-dyes-rainbow-of-risks.pdf

[34] Center for Science in the Public Interest. (2010). Food dyes: A rainbow of risks. Retrieved from https://cspinet.org/sites/default/files/attachment/food-dyes-rainbow-of-risks.pdf

[35] Center for Science in the Public Interest. (2010). Food dyes: A rainbow of risks. Retrieved from https://cspinet.org/sites/default/files/attachment/food-dyes-rainbow-of-risks.pdf

[36] Hallagan, J. B., & Hall, R. L. (2009). Under the conditions of intended use – new developments in the FEMA GRAS program and the safety assessment of flavor ingredients. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 47(2), 267-278. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2008.11.011

[37] Andrews, D. (2018). Synthetic ingredients in natural flavors and natural flavors in artificial flavors. Retrieved from http://www.ewg.org/foodscores/content/natural-vs-artificial-flavors#.WmJ7ADfat_B

[38] Hallagan, J. B., & Hall, R. L. (2009). Under the conditions of intended use – new developments in the FEMA GRAS program and the safety assessment of flavor ingredients. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 47(2), 267-278. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2008.11.011

[39] Gagné, F. (2014). Chapter 6 – oxidative stress. In F. Gagné (Ed.), Biochemical ecotoxicology (pp. 103-115). Oxford: Academic Press. doi://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-411604-7.00006-4

[40] Damiani, E., Astolfi, P., Giesinger, J., Ehlis, T., Herzog, B., Greci, L., & Baschong, W. (2010). Assessment of the photo-degradation of UV-filters and radical-induced peroxidation in cosmetic sunscreen formulations. Free Radical Research, 44(3), 304-312. doi:10.3109/10715760903486065

[41] The Endocrine Disruptor Exchange, (TEDX). (2018). Search the TEDX list: benzaldehyde. Accessed July 13, 2017. Retrieved from http://endocrinedisruption.org/interactive-tools/tedx-list-of-potential-endocrine-disruptors/search-the-tedx-list

[42] TOXNET: Toxicology Data Network. (2016). Benzaldehyde. National Institutes of Health U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from https://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search/a?dbs+hsdb:@term+@DOCNO+388

[43] Chemsec – The International Chemical Secretariat. (2017). Search the SIN (substitute it now) list: benzophenone. Accessed Jan 25, 2018. Retrieved from http://sinlist.chemsec.org/

[44] Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, (OEHHA). (2012). Chemicals Considered or Listed Under Proposition 65: Benzophenone. California Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed Jan 26, 2018. Retrieved from https://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/chemicals/benzophenone

[45] The Endocrine Disruptor Exchange, (TEDX). (2017). Search the TEDX list: benzophenone. Accessed Jan 25, 2018. Retrieved from http://endocrinedisruption.org/interactive-tools/tedx-list-of-potential-endocrine-disruptors/search-the-tedx-list

[46] National Institute of Technology and Evaluation, Japan. (2013). GHS classification results. Accessed Jan 25, 2018. Retrieved from http://www.safe.nite.go.jp/english/ghs/all_fy_e.html

[47] Environment and Climate Change Canada. (n.d.). Search engine for the results of domestic substances categorization: benzophenone. Government of Canada. Accessed Jan 26, 2018. Retrieved from https://pollution-waste.canada.ca/substances-search/Substance?lang=en

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[49] Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, (OEHHA). (2009). Evidence on the developmental and reproductive toxicity of bisphenol A. California Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved from https://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/chemicals/bisphenol-bpa

[50] The Endocrine Disruptor Exchange, (TEDX). (2017). Search the TEDX list: 80-05-7 bisphenol A. Accessed September 25, 2017. Retrieved from http://endocrinedisruption.org/interactive-tools/tedx-list-of-potential-endocrine-disruptors/search-the-tedx-list

[51] Vinas, R., & Watson, C. S. (2013). Bisphenol S disrupts estradiol-induced nongenomic signaling in a rat pituitary cell line: Effects on cell functions. Environmental Health Perspectives, 121(3), 352-358. doi:10.1289/ehp.1205826

[52] Rochester, J. R., & Bolden, A. L. (2015). Bisphenol S and F: A systematic review and comparison of the hormonal activity of bisphenol A substitutes. Environmental Health Perspectives, 123(7), 643-650. doi:10.1289/ehp.1408989

[53] Mesnage, R., Phedonos, A., Arno, M., Balu, S., Corton, J. C., & Antoniou, M. N. (2017). Transcriptome profiling reveals bisphenol A alternatives activate estrogen receptor alpha in human breast cancer cells. Toxicological Sciences, doi:10.1093/toxsci/kfx101

[54] Environment and Climate Change Canada. (n.d.). Search engine for the results of domestic substances list categorization: butylated hydroxytoluene. Government of Canada. Accessed Jun 26, 2017. Retrieved from https://www.ec.gc.ca/lcpe-cepa/default.asp?lang=En&n=D031CB30-1

[55] Chemsec: The International Chemical Secretariat. (2017). Search the SIN (substitute it now) list: butylated hydroxyanisole. Accessed Jun 26, 2017. Retrieved from http://sinlist.chemsec.org/

[56] Chemsec: The International Chemical Secretariat. (2017). Search the SIN (substitute it now) list: butylated hydroxyanisole. Accessed Jun 26, 2017. Retrieved from http://sinlist.chemsec.org/

[57] Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, (OEHHA). (1990). Butylated hydroxyanisole. California Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed Jun 26, 2017. Retrieved from https://oehha.ca.gov/chemicals/butylated-hydroxyanisole

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Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers

Made Safe stocking stuffer gifts image

Picking out non-toxic gifts is difficult, especially when it comes to stocking stuffers. Too often we end up filling stockings with plastic trinkets and toxic personal care products (unknowingly exposing our loved ones to harmful chemicals) and things that our giftee just plain won’t use. Our team has taken the guesswork out by creating a list of our favorite MADE SAFE® certified products that your family will love (and actually use!) this holiday season. (more…)

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