Chemical Detection: Know How to Protect Yourself

Have you ever wondered what "NATURAL" actually meant when you read it on the bottle of shampoo or skin care product you just bought? Or did you assume because the word natural was used that it must be good for you and safe? You get the product home and then you find you can't even read the long chemical names on the label let alone pronounce them! Why on earth do they say it is "NATURAL"? How can this be if the chemical names are so long you can't even begin to pronounce them?

Would you be shocked to find that what manufacturers can claim is "natural" is actually so far removed from natural it isn't funny.

Would you like to know more about what you are putting on your skin rather than the hype most products are described with. Well - you will have to do a little undercover work and become an "Toxic Chemical Ingredient Sleuth".

This is relatively easy to do now that we have the Internet. Virtually every synthetic chemical produced has a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) published with the facts about the chemical and the potential dangers to human health. So if you think you are using safe, non-toxic approved chemicals in your skin care products, perhaps you should think again. The MSDS lists a summary of the chemical facts and summarizes the little known things like hazard identification, first aid measures, precautions when handling the raw material, exposure limits and what medical action should be taken if the chemical is accidentally touches skin and other names by which the chemical is known. You will be surprised to learn that many of these so-called safe "natural" chemicals have skull and crossbone warning signs on the storage containers to warn handlers of the dangers.

Why is this if they are safe and natural?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires an MSDS be prepared for chemicals that are hazardous according to the criteria described in the HCS. In fact hazardous chemicals all have to be indexed and a safety data sheet published for them.

If you think that the cream you just smoothed onto your face is safe and "natural" do you own research and type the chemical names into Google's search engine to see what safety data sheets come up. You just may be shocked at what you read. Another excellent website to research ingredients is, which provides three search options:

  • Search by manufacturer, which you may not know
  • Search the database by keying in the chemical ingredient
  • Search the Chemical Toxicity Database.

For example, enter phenoxyethanol (a preservative used in many so-called natural skin care products) into the database, and five MSDSs are listed. Enter phenoxyethanol into the Chemical Toxicity Database, and seven entries are listed. A sample of information found on phenoxyethanol includes:

Hazards Identification


  • Harmful if swallowed
  • Causes skin irritation
  • May cause central nervous system depression
  • May cause kidney damage
  • May cause respiratory and digestive tract irritation
  • Target Organs: Kidneys, central nervous system


  • Skin Contact: Severe irritation or burns
  • Eye Contact: Severe irritation or burns
  • Ingestion: May cause gastrointestinal irritation with nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea
  • May cause central nervous system depression
  • May cause headache, dizziness, drowsiness, and nausea
  • Advanced stages may cause collapse, unconsciousness
  • May cause coma and possible death due to respiratory failure
  • May cause kidney failure
  • May be harmful if swallowed
  • Lesions may appear in the brain, lungs, liver, meninges and heart


Lethal Dose 50 (LD50) indicates the quantity of the chemical necessary to kill 50% of the animal test subjects and is measured in units per kilogram or PPM (Parts Per Million) of the animals body weight.

  • Oral, mouse: LD50 = 933 mg/kg
  • Oral, rat: LD50 = 1260 mg/kg
  • Skin, rabbit: LD50 = 5 mL/kg
  • Skin, rat: LD50 = 14422 mg/kg

How do you feel about using products that include that ingredient?

By arming yourself with independent information about the many toxic ingredients found in todays skin and personal care products, you can make an informed decision to protect the health of you and your family.

Informed people make informed choices.

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