When a chemical is produced using the carcinogen ethylene oxide, it is known as an "ethoxylated" compound. During the processing of an ethoxylated compounds, a carcinogenic byproduct is created called 1,4-dioxane. Many ethoxylated compounds are used in cosmetic and personal care products, and commonly contain traces of 1,4-dioxane. This carcinogen has been found in even in supposedly "natural" brands. Thanks to the Organic Consumers association and the EWG Cosmetics Database, the word about ethoxylated compounds is spreading every.
How to spot an ethoxylated compound.
There are three easy ways to spot an ethoxylated compound. First is looking out for "PEG." PEG stands for polyethylene glycol. Polyethylene Glycol is used in cosmetics as a skin conditioner and emulsifier. It usually is followed by a number, reading PEG-200. The number following the PEG is the number of moles (a unit of measure in chemistry) that the glycol has been treated with. So PEG-40 is polyethylene glycol treated with ethylene oxide 40 times, in simplified terms. The higher the number, the more ethylene oxide it's been treated with. Second, look for the suffix "eth." Sodium laureth sulfate or ceteareth-20 are two examples. The "eth" indicates it has been treated with ethylene oxide.
Third, look for dashes followed by a number, as in steareth-20.
The CosmeticsDatabase has become a go-to resource for thousands of people looking for safer cosmetics. It lists many ethoxylated compounds and flags them for their hazard with 1,4-dioxane conamination. However, the database has missed this hazard on a number of ingredients. Let's help the Cosmetics Database spread the word about the dangers of ethoxylated compounds and get the correct scores assigned to these ingredients. Cut and paste the following in an e-mail and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for the work you do at the Cosmetics Database! I wanted to bring a number of ethoxylated compounds in the database that have not yet been flagged for 1,4-dioxane contamination.
Polysorbate-20 is also known as PEG(20) sorbitan monolaurate. It currently scores a 1, "low hazard" score and needs to be much higher, like other PEG compounds for its 1,4-dioxane contamination concern..
Polysorbate-40 is also known as PEG(40) sorbitan monopalmitate. It currently scores a 1, "low hazard" score and needs to be much higher, like other PEG compounds for its 1,4-dioxane contamination concern..
Polysorbate-60 is also known as PEG(20) sorbitan monostearate. It currently scores s 1, "low hazard" score and should be much higher, like other PEG compounds for its 1,4-dioxane contamination concern..
Polysorbate-80 is also known as PEG(20) sorbitan monooleate. It currently scores a 2, "low hazard" score and should be much higher, like other PEG compounds for its 1,4-dioxane contamination concern..
Steareth-20 is also known as PEG-20 stearyl ether. It currently scores a 1, "low hazard" score and should be much higher. According to this ingredient listing: "About STEARETH-20: Steareth-20 is a synthetic polymer composed of PEG (polyethylene glycol) and stearyl alcohol. Due to the presence of PEG, this ingredient may contain potentially toxic manufacturing impurities such as 1,4-dioxane." Yet, the box for "contamination concerns" is not checked; it should be!
Steareth-100 is also known as PEG-100 stearyl ether. It currently scores a 1, "low hazard" score and should be much higher, like other PEG-compounds for its 1,4-dioxane contamination concern.
Other listings that need to be updated with 1,4-dioxane concerns include:
Thank you for your attention to the matter
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WE DID IT!!! Thanks for everyone who particupated! We got the scores changed! We gave those chemicals what they deserve! :)