Clean Makeup

Body Burdens

Teen Girls’ Body Burden of Hormone-Altering Cosmetics

20 teen girls tested
had an average of 13
hormone-altering cosmetics

chemicals in their bodies
in Environmental Working Group study

“Laboratory tests reveal adolescent girls across America are contaminated with chemicals commonly used in cosmetics and body care products. Environmental Working Group (EWG) detected 16 chemicals from 4 chemical families – phthalates, triclosan, parabens, and musks – in blood and urine samples from 20 teen girls aged 14-19. Studies link these chemicals to potential health effects including cancer and hormone disruption. These tests feature first-ever exposure data for parabens in teens, and indicate that young women are widely exposed to this common class of cosmetic preservatives, with 2 parabens, methylparaben and propylparaben, detected in every single girl tested.” – Rebecca Sutton, Ph.D., EWG Staff Scientist, September 2008

Click here to view the full report

Center for Disease Control: National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals

In 2003 and 2004 The CDC tested U.S. residents across the country from all ages, income levels, and backgrounds.

Key findings:

  • 92.6% of test subjects had detectable levels of BPA; Females had higher levels than male; Children and teens had higher levels than adults.
  • 75% of test subjects had detectable levels of triclosan.
  • Hexachlorobenzene was detected in 99.9% of the persons aged 12 years and older
  • The DDT metabolite p,p′-DDE was detected in 99.7% of persons aged 12 years and older
  • Children aged 6-11 had the higher levels of lead than teens aged 12-19 and adults 20 and older.


“Maine people are polluted with dozens of hazardous industrial chemicals, according to a new study conducted by the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine with help from the University of Southern Maine. In 2006, thirteen Maine men and women volunteered to have their bodies tested in the first-ever study of chemical pollution in Maine people. This study found a total of 46 different chemicals (of 71 tested) in samples of blood, urine, and hair. On average, each participant had measurable levels of 36 toxic chemicals in their bodies.”–Body of Evidence, Executive Summary

Facts from the study:

“Phthalates were detected in all 13 participants and those who reported using certain products had higher levels than others.” –Body of Evidence, The Chemicals: Phthalates

See more from the Body of Evidence and the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine:

Press Room
Executive Summary
The People
Project Findings
The Chemicals
Project Methodology
Conclusions & Recommendations
Credits & Acknowledgements
Download the report
Order a printed copy

big-portrait-1Pollution in people: A Study of Toxic Chemicals in Washingtonians

“Toxic chemicals from consumer products, food, and industrial pollution contaminate our bodies. Every person tested had at least 26 and as many as 39 toxic chemicals in his or her body. This pollution came from food; everyday household dust; direct contact with products such as personal care items, consumer electronics, and stain-resistant furniture; and from contaminated soil, air, and water. Many of the chemicals do not break down or do so slowly, and therefore build up in human bodies and breastmilk.

The toxic chemicals in our bodies are cause for concern because they can lead to health problems. For some chemicals, the levels we found are at or near those believed to be capable of causing serious problems, such as infertility and learning deficits. Many of these problems can result from being exposed to chemicals at critical points of child development, which can cause permanent damage.

<Every participant was contaminated with phthalates, found in myriad everyday products. The same is true for perfluorinated chemicals, used to make Teflon and stain-protection treatments for paper and textiles.

>Every participant had PCBs in his or her blood, despite a decades-old ban on the chemicals. PCBs from everyday exposures have been shown to cause learning deficits.

>Every participant had PBDEs in his or her blood. Dr. Patricia Dawson had PBDEs in her body at levels close to those that cause reproductive problems in laboratory animals.

>We found a marker for the pesticide carbaryl, considered a carcinogen by the EPA, in five of ten participants: Rev. Ann Holmes Redding, Sen. Lisa Brown, Sen. Bill Finkbeiner, Deb Abrahamson, and Allyson Schrier.

>Three of our ten participants—Denis Hayes, Sen. Bill Finkbeiner, and Karen Bowman—had mercury exposures above the Environmental Protection Agency’s “safe” levels.

>Even Laurie Valeriano, toxic chemical expert and regular organic shopper, tested positive for more than two dozen chemicals.”- Pollution in People, Executive Summary