BCPP Diaries

How Toxic Ingredients Became A Blessing In My Life

How Toxic Ingredients Became A Blessing In My Life

When I was invited by BCPP to pledge support for SB574, I expected to be part of a large group where we would collectively pledge our support. Easy. I can show up and do that.Read More

Guest Post by Joanne Starkman, cofounder of Innersense Organic Beauty

When I was invited by Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP) to pledge support for the California Cosmetic Fragrance and Flavor Ingredient Right to Know Act of 2019 (SB574), I expected to be part of a large group where we would collectively pledge our support. Easy. I can show up and do that.

After arriving in California’s state capitol, I quickly discovered I would have the opportunity to share my personal story first-hand with legislative staffers. My very personal story shared publicly in ways I never imagined. Flooded with emotion, life since my daughter’s birth flashed before me and it felt like a full circle was completing itself.

At 22-months, my daughter Morgan was diagnosed with Williams Syndrome. This rare genetic and beautiful condition takes place at the time of conception where 26-28 genes are spontaneously deleted on chromosome #7 ultimately affecting one’s health and intellectual abilities.

At the time of Morgan’s diagnosis, I had questions. So many questions. Why did this happen? Was this a result of something I did or was exposed to? Could I have done something differently? I became an avid researcher and detailed label reader to leave no stone unturned.

What I discovered shocked me. I learned toxic ingredients are used in food, personal care products, manufactured goods and more. More disturbing, I found out these unhealthy ingredients were commonplace.

Our body burden was becoming flooded with known toxic ingredients. These known toxicants were already directly proven to adversely affect health and were connected to cancers, skin conditions, endocrine disorders and more. It was eye-opening to find many of these ingredients weren’t disclosed to the consumer. Plus, our ecosystems and wildlife were also being impacted as the by-products of these toxic ingredients were making their way into our waterways and environment.

As a hairstylist, I discovered my exposure to toxic chemicals in the salon placed me at a much higher risk for diseases. In fact, chemical exposure as a hairdresser or barber is classified as a ‘probable carcinogen’ by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the leading global research agency.[i]

Studies also show that my job may be linked to reproductive harm.[ii] Data across 19 studies found that women who work as hairdressers and cosmetologists had increased time to birth, increased risk of premature birth, increased risk of having a baby who was small for gestational age, increased risk of having a baby with low birth weight and increased miscarriage.

I was stunned.

And, I became motivated. Not only was it my purpose to create a safe and healthy household for my family, it was now my purpose to care for my salon professional colleagues knowing the toxic environment they worked in every day. Stylists care for their beauty guests in many ways, including their role as confidant, counselor and friend. They all deserve to work in a safe and healthy environment, plus use safe products in their hands.

My research has left me with a newfound purpose to develop a salon professional haircare line using safe and healthy ingredients. Finding ingredients from Mother Nature offering salon performance was tasked to my husband in his new role as conscious chemist. Transparency became our focus as each ingredient used in formulations would be fully disclosed as we also established the highest standard for what is now known as clean beauty.

Over fourteen years later since Innersense Organic Beauty was officially founded, I am now able to share my story in a way I never dreamed of. I spoke first-hand with several California legislative staffers to share about my daughter Morgan, the importance of ingredient transparency and to officially pledge my support for SB574. I also asked staffers to encourage their legislators to co-author this bill. California has the opportunity to lead the way in ingredient transparency as this is the first bill in the country to require manufacturers to disclose toxic fragrance and flavor ingredients in products sold in California.

It’s here where I discovered my story comes full circle and where I can make a positive difference to facilitate much needed change.

And, Morgan. She is now 23 years old and brings great joy in my life!  She is a teacher of love, inclusiveness and compassion. We can all use more of these characteristics in our life, which fosters positive change in our world, too.

I hope through my story the world becomes a better place. And, we have the opportunity right here in California and it starts with SB574. Thank you BCPP for giving me a voice in a way I never expected. I am grateful for the unexpected nudge!

Joanne Starkman is a BCPP supporter and cofounder of Innersense Organic Beauty

[1] IARC, 2010. IARC Monographs: Some Aromatic Amines, Organic Dyes, and Related Exposures. Available from: https://monographs.iarc.fr/list-of-classifications-volumes/

[2] JB H, Collot F. Reproductive disorders in hairdressers and cosmetologists: a meta-analytical approach. Journal of occupational health. 2015:15-0068.


Read Less

BCPP Spring Bulletin 2019

BCPP Spring Bulletin 2019

From naming a new CEO, to taking on Strength of Nature for their toxic shampoo, to a new CA Right to Know bill, and a fresh one-of-kind science video series, it’s safe to say we’ve been busy at BCPP this past quarter! Check out our bulletin below for the top news from your trusted breast cancer prevention organization.Read More

By BCPP Staff Erika Wilhelm

From naming a new CEO, to taking on Strength of Nature for their toxic shampoo, to a new CA Right to Know bill, and a fresh one-of-kind science video series, it’s safe to say we’ve been busy at BCPP this past quarter! Check out our bulletin below for the top news from your trusted breast cancer prevention organization.

SB 574: Let’s end toxic secrets in fragrance & flavors

BCPP and our partners – Black Women for Wellness and Women’s Voices for the Earth – teamed up with Senator Connie Leyva to draft and introduce the California Cosmetic Fragrance and Flavor Ingredient Right to Know Act of 2019 (SB 574). For the first time ever, manufacturers that sell beauty and personal care products in CA will be required to report hazardous fragrance or flavor ingredients to the California Safe Cosmetics Program. In addition, companies will not be allowed to claim trade secret or confidential business information protection for any of these ingredients.

BCPP is leading advocacy efforts such as educating legislators about the need for fragrance disclosure, building coalition support within the NGO and business communities, and utilizing our action network and social media channels to generate broad-based support for this bill.

It’s our supporters who give us this momentum. The past two years we’ve prioritized Right to Know advocacy and your donations and actions have helped to make these goals a reality. We did it first with our Cleaning Product Ingredients bill (SB 258) and then again with our Salon Products bill (AB 2775). Help us push SB 574 through. Donate today to support our efforts!

No more cancer-causing shampoo

Not only do we take our fight for safer products to legislators, but we also go straight to companies demanding change! Our current target? Strength of Nature.

Last year, BCPP released our report Right to Know: Exposing toxic fragrance chemicals in beauty, personal care and cleaning products, which investigated to what extent companies that make beauty, personal care, and cleaning products hide unlabeled toxic chemicals in their products. Out of the 32 household products we analyzed, the kids’ shampoo Just for Me, made by Strength of Nature, had the most toxic chemicals – including 4 carcinogens, 6 developmental toxicants, and 19 hormone disrupting compounds!

So, last month we sent a call to action to our supporters, asking them to join us in demanding Strength of Nature remove these toxic chemicals from their shampoo. Thousands within our community rallied. Shout out to those of you who already took action. But our demands are not done until Strength of Nature ditches their toxic formulation. Will you act today and share this action with a friend? Every voice helps move the needle for corporate accountability.

Going Behind the Science with renowned experts

Science is our backbone. That’s why BCPP is committed to grounding our work in the latest scientific information on the complex relationships between environmental factors and breast cancer. We’ve got a go-to crew of top-notch scientists that help make this happen. Our Science Advisory Panel (SAP), made up of over 20 experts, are always there for us to offer advice when we are exploring scientific data or planning new initiatives based on the latest evidence.

Because we rely on these experts, we thought you should too! So we launched the first episode of our Behind the Science video series which covers adult and prenatal chemical exposures. This unique online series will consist of exclusive interviews with our SAP scientists covering a variety of breast cancer and environmental health topics that matter to you. We’ll answer frequently asked questions from our community, so let us know what you’d like to ask a scientist!

Welcome Amanda Heier – Our new CEO!

On April 2nd, BCPP officially announced that Amanda Heier will serve as our new Chief Executive Officer. After carefully conducting a national search that considered many highly impressive candidates, the BCPP search committee and board unanimously selected Amanda. A passionate public health leader, Amanda has extensive non-profit experience mobilizing diverse teams, enhancing programs that optimize community impact, and implementing organizational growth. She is equipped with the talent, experience, and heart needed to lead this organization closer to our goal of stopping breast cancer before it starts.

Amanda will be only the third person to hold the position of CEO since the founding of BCPP (formerly Breast Cancer Fund) in 1992.

Amanda has previously served as Executive Director for Raphael House, the Mary Elizabeth Inn and, most recently, as CEO of the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation. Amanda’s first day at BCPP will be May 8.

P.S. Will you be free the evening of May 23rd? Join us for a female-focused exclusive LUNAFEST San Francisco film festival event at Dolby Laboratories. Tickets are going fast!


Read Less
Erika Wilhelm_BCPP

Earth Month Partner Product Guide

Earth Month Partner Product Guide

At BCPP, our partners in prevention are businesses that value the health and well-being of people and the planet. Check out these safer brands with products that are all the rave this month!Read More

At BCPP, our partners in prevention are businesses that value the health and well-being of people and the planet. Check out these safer brands with products that are all the rave this month!

The Futon Shop

The Futon Shop brings Earth Day into your home with mattresses made in San Francisco, and sourced with only natural and certified organic ingredients, bringing your family the healthiest night’s sleep.

The Futon Shop partners with BCPP to donate 1% of your purchase to fight against toxic chemicals in our environment.

Clearly Filtered

Clearly Filtered provides the most advanced sustainable water filters on the planet. Their independently tested and certified water filter technology removes over 230 toxic chemicals, providing you and your family peace of mind for your drinking water.

Clearly Filtered is generously donating 50% of sales to BCPP this April, when you use this link!

Seventh Generation

A partner of BCPP for almost 20 years, Seventh Generation has been a leader in redefining clean. This Earth Month, save a tree, swap to 100% recycled bath tissue! Or find your new go-to, no-rinse botanical disinfecting wipes, spray or cleaner.

Shop Seventh Generation’s full line of non toxic cleaning products.

Grow Fragrance

Grow Fragrance air + fabric fresheners are mindfully made with 100% plant-based ingredients. These toxic free home fragrance products help eliminate odors and refresh fabrics. Now available in limited edition Black Currant Rose for spring.

Grow is donating $1 to BCPP for every bottle sold in April, when you use this link!

Juice Beauty

For 12+ years Juice Beauty and BCPP have been partners in prevention. And every day is Earth Day at Juice Beauty! They’ve been championing organic farming since the brand’s very beginning in order to provide healthier ingredients and greater antioxidant protection for skin.

Try their best-selling Stem Cellular Anti-Wrinkle skincare collection powered by resveratrol-rich grape infused with fruit stem cells + Vitamin C.

MyChelle Dermaceuticals

Founded in Colorado, MyChelle Dermaceuticals transformed the natural beauty industry by being the first to use anti-aging peptides, plant stem cells and clinically proven dermatological ingredients that enhance the natural appearance of your skin. MyChelle formulates clean skin care that does not compromise personal health or the well-being of our environment.

Use code EARTHDAY to receive 30% off your entire purchase via MyChelle.com April 1-30. Code is valid one time per customer.

Clif Bar Co. & LUNA

Clif Bar has been a longtime supporter of BCPP. Their journey to use organic ingredients started in 2003, and they’ve been able to increase their use of organic ingredients every year, continuing their relentless quest toward using 100% organic ingredients. Together, BCPP and LUNA, the first nutrition bar aimed at women, also support women in film through LUNAFEST San Francisco.

Attend LUNAFEST —short films by, for, about women — May 23 at Dolby Laboratories.


Read Less
Erika Wilhelm_BCPP

Spring Clean DeTox

Spring Clean DeTox

If you’re like me, the first signs of spring are enough to make you want to throw open the windows, pull out your broom, and give those dusty corners a good sweep. But hold on there, Mary Poppins! Just a spoonful of broom sweeping and spraying toxic cleaning products can send a whole host of new and accumulated chemicals up into the air you breathe.Read More

How to clean house without toxic chemicals

By BCPP Staff Emily Reuman

It’s official—spring is here! I just returned from a desert camping trip in Anza Borrego and the desert is in full bloom. Wildflowers in white and yellow, pink cactus blooms, and even the red ocotillo blossoms peeking out. I woke up to a stream of butterflies coming up through the canyon walls, flying northward—the painted ladies. These beauties are out in full force through the desert on their trip up toward the Superbloom in Northern CA.

If you’re like me, the first signs of spring are enough to make you want to throw open the windows, pull out your broom, and give those dusty corners a good sweep. But hold on there, Mary Poppins! Just a spoonful of broom sweeping and spraying toxic cleaning products can send a whole host of new and accumulated chemicals up into the air you breathe. Think flame retardant chemicals (like PBDEs) from foam furniture like your old couch. Ew.

As much as possible, I try to avoid harsh chemicals, plastics, and disposables when I clean. I opt instead for non-toxic solutions and zero-waste options, which, in addition to being simpler and reusable, save me money. That’s winning in my book!

So before you turn the house upside down, check out my top recommendations for ways to make your home sparkle.

Step 1—Contain the grime

Vacuum with a HEPA filter

Do I have to? Broom sweeping seems easier.

I hear you. Vacuuming with a HEPA filter is by far the best way to keep dust and harmful chemicals out of the air you breathe. By safely capturing dust and particulate matter inside the vacuum bag, you help avoid stirring up the nasty.

HEPA—what?

HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air. A HEPA filter is a mechanical air filter that works by forcing air through a fine mesh. It traps harmful particles including pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and tobacco smoke. HEPA-equipped vacuums cut down on the dust that goes back out into the room as you vacuum. You can thank me later for that allergy sinus relief.

Step 2—Shine it up

Wet Mop

How-to

Get yourself a reusable mop pad with a simple, homemade cleaning solution in a spray bottle.

Why though
  1. Skip the harmful chemicals in synthetic fragrance-laden cleaning products. Breathe easier. Reduce your cancer risk.
  2. Eliminate trash from wasteful disposables and plastic while you save money. Cha-ching!
  3. Many mop pads are machine washable, making clean-up a breeze.
I’m no chemist

Me neither. Easiest cleaning solution: 10 cups water + 1 cup white vinegar. Boom. Add lemon if you fancy.

Reusable mop pads—help me

Microfiber cloth pads work well to lift grime and can go in the wash again and again. Cheapest option? Wrap a towel, microfiber cloth, or even an old sock around a mop-shaped base and pin, clip, or stich together on the top. Heck crochet them, if you’re handy!

Step 3—Smelly things

De-odorize without masking

Non-toxic options

Baking soda neutralizes odors, eliminates dampness, and is especially tough on grime and hard-to-tackle stains. Vinegar is an easy and cheap de-odorizer as well. Just like grandma used.

What not to use

Cleaning products that either don’t list all their ingredients or include the word ‘fragrance‘ on the label. These products contain any number of unknown harmful chemicals that may increase your risk of breast cancer. Skip em.

Step 4—Still want to buy something?

I try to skip the plastic packaging whenever possible. For everything else, EWG’s healthy cleaning guide has brand and product ratings along with ingredient info. Find yourself a product.

Got more non-toxic cleaning tips?

We’d love to hear them! Share on our Facebook page, Tweet at us, or tag us on IG and include #springcleandetox


Read Less
Emily-Reuman_Anza-Borrego

I ran a 10K and Raised Money to Prevent Breast Cancer

I ran a 10K and Raised Money to Prevent Breast Cancer

Fundraising for the T9 Mermaid Race was as easy as Ready. Set. Go!Read More

Guest Post by BCPP Development Manager Nicole Parker

Fundraising for the T9 Mermaid Race was as easy as Ready. Set. Go!

I love being outdoors, I’m training for a summer race and I’m passionate about the work Breast Cancer Prevention Partners does. So of course, the T9 Mermaid Series was a perfect fit for me. By committing to fundraise $500, my race fees were waived, and in addition, I got to spread the word about BCPP to all my friends on various social media platforms.

I was amazed to find that when I posted my story on social media, I reached my fundraising goal in just a week! More importantly, I reconnected with an old friend I hadn’t spoken to in years, who shared her recent breast cancer journey. In the past year, I’ve lost one friend to breast cancer, and learned of another going through treatment. Both are in their early 30s, and it definitely fuels me to spread the mission of BCPP.

While the emotions behind this event were difficult, the logistics for race day were easy. There were 3 days of packet pickup to accommodate everyone’s schedules, and on race morning, I was able to drive up to the start line and park (for free!). From check-in to parking, the race really treated everyone like a champ. I was greeted with a smile at every turn and walked away from the race with a branded tech t-shirt, mermaid necklace and huge finisher’s medal.

At the start line, all the participants were excited to start the race, snapping pictures and dancing to keep warm. My favorite part of this event was that it really felt like a community. There were families at the start line to cheer on those racing, and in addition to the kids’ races, there were even some running in the 10k with me. As I ran towards the finish line, the woman in front of me stopped to grab her young son and finish the race with him, together. The whole race was well-staffed and supported, from more than enough port-a-potties, to water and first aid tents. All race essentials!

As I crossed the finish line, I felt reflective on my morning and the experience. I ran the Mermaid Race to raise funds for BCPP to help continue consumer education in the safer products world, support its policy work, campaigns and other innovative programs that prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposures to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease. Moreover, I ran to remember those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, and those we’ve lost. Looking at the participants at the event, including so many women and children, made me realize there is so much work to be done.

Run for a Cause: Mermaid Series

Check out upcoming races, learn more, and register to run! Email events@bcpp.org with any questions.


Read Less
Nicole Parker BCPP Staff Member

Why La Rhonda Hikes for Prevention

Why La Rhonda Hikes for Prevention

My family and I joined BCPP’s community when one of my girlfriends was under 40 and diagnosed with breast cancer. She was determined to hike for prevention, so we decided to hike with her. Read More

My family and I joined BCPP’s community when one of my girlfriends was under 40 and diagnosed with breast cancer. She was determined to hike for prevention, so we decided to hike with her.

Traci has since passed. My mother also died of breast cancer in ’78 and I’ve had aunts and other relatives who have died of breast cancer too, so I just want to continue to do what it takes to help end this disease. Supporting BCPP is the best way I know how to make sure breast cancer will one day stop hurting and impacting other families.

Breast cancer is a horrible disease that puts every single person touched by it through so much heartache and pain. This is why my family and I back BCPP, because we think nobody deserves to lose their mothers, their sisters, their aunts, their grandmothers, or their best friends to breast cancer.

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson, Team Elevate

Give Today

We need your help to accomplish our big goals to save lives and prevent breast cancer. Can you chip in?


Read Less
BCPP Breast Cancer Awareness Prevention Month La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson

Happy International Women’s Day! Remembering An Incredible Woman

Happy International Women’s Day! Remembering An Incredible Woman

Andrea Ravinett Martin was not a mountaineer, alpinist, or climber. She was a woman committed to doing things that people told her she couldn’t. From playing on the men’s flag football team in college to continuing to thrive when faced with two dire breast cancer diagnoses, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners’ founder challenged society’s expectations and proved to the world that anything is possible when women unite behind a challenge with dedication and perseverance.Read More

Post by BCPP Development Coordinator Sarah Meike

Andrea Ravinett Martin was not a mountaineer, alpinist, or climber. She was a woman committed to doing things that people told her she couldn’t. From playing on the men’s flag football team in college to continuing to thrive when faced with two dire breast cancer diagnoses, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners’ founder challenged society’s expectations and proved to the world that anything is possible when women unite behind a challenge with dedication and perseverance.

This International Women’s Day I would like to honor Andrea’s life and her legacy of empowering all people to push past what they think they can’t do, and rise to their highest peak.

When Andrea Ravinett Martin was first presented with the idea of climbing a 22,841ft mountain to spread the message of breast cancer prevention, she had two strong reactions. First, the idea was absolutely crazy. At the time, the concept of accomplishing major physical feats to fundraise for a disease was unheard of and seemed like a ridiculous concept to most. Second, from that moment on, Andrea was determined to see this idea through.

Not only did she want to defeat breast cancer as a disease so future generations did not have to go through the pain and trauma of the illness, but she also wanted to shift the perspective about breast cancer patients and survivors. She wanted to prove to everyone and herself that breast cancer survivors were not women wasting away in hospital beds, but strong and resilient individuals capable of leading communities, standing up for the causes they believed in, and climbing to the greatest heights our world has to offer. Thus, Climb Against the Odds was born.

In 1995, BCPP, then Breast Cancer Fund, launched its first Climb Against the Odds event on Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina, followed by Mt. McKinley in 1998, Mt. Fuji in 2000 and Mt. Rainier in 2005. In 2006, Climb Against the Odds found its home mountain of Mt. Shasta, where the event has taken place annually for the last 13 years. Andrea’s vision to shout the message of breast cancer prevention from the mountaintops still echoes around the world today.

Climb Against the Odds is not merely a name, but a statement of the reality we all find ourselves in, facing the statistics of 1 in 8 women in the U.S. being diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. I am so grateful to Andrea Ravinett Martin and so many other women on this International Women’s Day that looked inside themselves and found strength and courage when faced with their own mortality. They are the inspiration that keeps me firmly pointed toward my own personal peaks, one step at a time.

Andrea knew that you didn’t have to be an outdoor enthusiast, Iron Man champion, or climbing expert to set your mind to something and see it through. If you would like to join this lineage of women who climb mountains for breast cancer prevention, I’d love to share more with you about the experience. Click here for more info or contact me directly at sarah@bcpp.org!

Climb Against the Odds is looking for our next team of climbers!

Check out our full itinerary and our learn about this adventure of a lifetime! Email events@bcpp.org with any questions.

Read Less
Sarah Meike BCPP Staff Member

Hair Goals: Using Products That Heal and Not Harm

Hair Goals: Using Products That Heal and Not Harm

During my adolescent years in Los Angeles, everyone I knew had natural hair. Of course, we didn’t call it that, we just called it “hair.” No matter how long or short, it had to be perfectly pressed, full of body (see you later 1970’s “grease press”) and healthy in order to be acceptable.Read More

Guest Post by BCPP supporter, Rochelle C.

During my adolescent years in Los Angeles, everyone I knew had natural hair. Of course, we didn’t call it that, we just called it “hair.” No matter how long or short, it had to be perfectly pressed, full of body (see you later 1970’s “grease press”) and healthy in order to be acceptable. There were a few girls here and there who wore their hair in “natural styles” (bantu knots, twists, or afro puffs) but they were the unique ones.

I never thought twice about the products I used on my hair or their chemical makeup. I just used whatever my mom bought from the local beauty supply and went on with my life. No worries.

One product I wouldn’t use however, was a relaxer. Oh, the “Creamy Crack” was a sin in my neighborhood. I was taught that Relaxers were harsh chemicals and they damage your hair. So you can imagine the culture shock I experienced when I went away to college in the south and everyone’s hair was relaxed. I mean EVERYONE! It was the complete opposite of what I had known. Suddenly, all of us (the California girls) became the unique ones. We wore protective styles (braids, extensions, etc.) to maintain our hair because we struggled to find stylists who could competently style our natural tresses without subjecting us to the dreaded “Creamy Crack.”

Unfortunately, after years of resisting, I gave in to the convenience and permanently straightened my hair. It was a short season. After four years of routine touch ups, I noticed that although my hair was growing longer, it was also thinning. It wouldn’t hold a curl anymore and lacked the body and fullness that I knew it was capable of, sans relaxer.

It was time for a change. Time to get rid of the chemicals and get back to my God given coils.

As I navigated my way through my transitioning journey, I realized that some of the products that were formulated for black hair contained some of the same harmful chemicals as the relaxer I was trying to get away from. Most commonly, Parabens, Mineral Oils and Petroleum, and Artificial Fragrance. That’s a ton of chemical exposure when you consider how many hair care products black women use daily. We can possibly increase our cancer risk through a product as simple as a shampoo. I mean, isn’t life hard enough? Well, now that I know better, I’m doing better. And today, I’m going to help you do better too.

Parabens

It’s 2019, so by now we should have heard about the dangers of Parabens. If not, allow me. As a self-taught product formulator, one of the first things I learned was that parabens are the best preservative you can use. They’re broad spectrum and can protect against bacterial growth, mold and yeast for years. So, what’s the problem? Parabens are endocrine disruptors, which can mimic estrogen in your body and may lead to thyroid conditions, fibroid tumors and an increased risk of breast cancer. You’ll most likely find them in your shampoo, conditioner, or any water-based product, since they all need to be preserved to maintain their shelf life. If you want to avoid parabens, be sure to read the ingredients on the back of the products. You’ll find them listed as butylparabens, propylparabens, or yuckyparabens. Yeah, I made that last one up. 😊

Mineral Oils and Petroleum

Mineral Oils and Petroleum are two ingredients that I was all too familiar with as they’re the foundation of most hair grease and scalp oils made for black hair. Unfortunately, these two ingredients are cut from the same cloth: The petroleum refining process. So what the heck are they doing in our hair products? Well, mineral oil and petroleum are both emollients and are generally used to form a barrier on the hair and skin to prevent moisture loss. They’re also inexpensive. While this doesn’t sound like a bad idea, the problem with these compounds is the potential contamination risk during the refining process. Although the studies are conflicting regarding their carcinogenic properties, I still avoid these ingredients to make sure that I’m not exposing myself to any potential toxins.

Fragrance

True story. One day I’m in the grocery store and the cashier asks if I used a certain cloyingly sweet coconut-scented product in my hair. I laughed and asked how he knew my business. “Oh, my whole family uses that product so I can recognize that smell anywhere.” See, that right there should tell you that there’s absolutely Too. Much. Fragrance. in a product if someone can smell it from several feet away! Clearly product manufacturers don’t think so. They also don’t seem to be concerned with the fact that added fragrance ingredients can also be, you guessed it, Endocrine Disruptors! They’re also linked to cancer, birth defects, and allergies! See, I’m not sure where you are in your life, but I’m still child bearing age, and I don’t need anything disrupting my hormones and affecting my fertility. The best way to avoid the worst fragrance ingredients is to purchase products that are fragrance-free or fully disclose their fragrance ingredients (including essential oils). I know it may be tough to let go of your favorite fruity yum-yum products, but it’s just not worth it, friend.

It has been 6 years since I began my pursuit to return to my natural hair roots, and I don’t regret it one bit. My hair is the healthiest it’s been in years and it all comes down to one simple principle: “Natural hair care requires natural products.” Our bodies are designed to heal themselves, and honestly, a lot of our hair (and body) care products do not complement that process.  We have come a long way in the natural hair community when it comes to producing high quality hair care products, but some of them are still heavy laden with harmful toxins. Come on, sis! Let’s toss those products and prioritize our long-term health goals over our short-term hair goals.  Let me know if you need my help 😊

Rochelle C. is a supporter of BCPP and the Co-Owner of LiveFree Natural Home & Body Care (www.livefreenhbc.com), a company that specializes in formulating all natural home and body care products and teaches community classes on the dangers of harmful chemicals in everyday personal care products. 


Read Less
Rochelle C. Co-Owner, LiveFree Natural Home and Body Care

My experience as a BCPP intern

My experience as a BCPP intern

I saw Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP) in an email with Bay Area summer internship opportunities. It’s an organization that works at the intersection of women’s health, environmental health, and marginalized communities’ health disparities. I realized this was the place I needed to be.Read More

Guest Post by 2018 BCPP Marketing & Communications Intern Maria Gramajo

My name is Maria and I am a third-year student at American University in Washington, D.C. I am pursuing a BA in American Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies as well as a minor in Sustainability. My specific focus is the intersection of what it means to be Latinx in the U.S., health, gender, and environment in the NGO sector. I decided to intern to study how these issues work together outside of the classroom to gain more knowledge on each of these topics. Not a lot of well-known NGO’s look at their work as intersectional, so I thought I would simply need to do multiple internships to cover my study focus.

Then I saw Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP) in an email with Bay Area summer internship opportunities. It’s an organization that works at the intersection of women’s health, environmental health, and marginalized communities’ health disparities. I realized this was the place I needed to be. I applied to be a Communications and Marketing Intern, as I thought I would be able to learn and also work to pull resources and content together for people like me, who may not understand the science behind breast cancer and what increases our cancer risk.

This internship, although short, left me prepared to go back to D.C. to work toward eliminating health disparities for communities that marginalized communities face and are often blamed for. This internship allowed me to understand how lucky I am to come from the Bay Area and go to school in a city like D.C.

I also became more aware of the products I choose when shopping at the store, and I have slowly been able to rid myself of products full of harmful chemicals. Interning at BCPP made me aware of the fact that there are businesses trying to be socially and environmentally conscious, some of my favorites being Juice Beauty and Klean Kanteen.

At BCPP, I was able to gain a better sense of what I hope to do post-graduation as well as the work that I find meaningful. I am beyond happy to have spent my summer here and have learned so much from everyone. I am especially grateful for everything that my supervisor, Erika, did to ensure I learned as much as I could while here.

BCPP is looking for our next Summer Intern!

Check out our We’re Hiring page for our open internships and apply today.


Read Less
BCPP Marketing Communications Intern 2018 Maria Gramajo

BCPP Ensures Safer Kids’ Toys

BCPP Ensures Safer Kids’ Toys

As you look back on toys you gave to your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews this holiday season, you can rest easier knowing that the kids’ toys you bought are free of some very toxic chemicals called phthalates! The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) banned six phthalates in a federal law celebrating its 10th anniversary of safer toys for children.Read More

As you look back on toys you gave to your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews this holiday season, you can rest easier knowing that the kids’ toys you bought are free of some very toxic chemicals called phthalates! The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) banned six phthalates in a federal law celebrating its 10th anniversary of safer toys for children.

In 2008, Congress passed the CPSIA, a massive bill providing the most significant improvements to the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) since the agency was established in the 1970s. The law gives CPSC more authority to ensure the safety of toys and other products sold in the U.S. BCPP worked with U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to include an important provision in the bill that banned the use of six phthalates in toys and childcare articles – three permanently and three provisionally pending a review of the scientific evidence of harm. While the bill passed 10 years ago, the wheels of government unfortunately move very slowly. Full implementation of the phthalates provision wasn’t finalized until October 2017.

What the heck are phthalates?

Phthalates (THA- lāts) are a class of chemicals often used to make plastics soft and toys, like rubber duckies, squishy. The problem is that many phthalates disrupt our bodies delicate endocrine system which controls healthy childhood development. Additionally, exposure to phthalates has been linked to a variety of health issues including breast cancer, obesity and asthma.

What are phthalates doing in kids’ toys?

Phthalates are found in a wide variety of products including plastics, personal care products, food packaging, cleaning products, insecticides, pharmaceuticals, building materials, home décor…and, until the passage of the CPSIA in 2008, children’s toys. Prior to 2008, there was no limit on the amount or type of phthalates that could be used in children’s products; and most parents were unaware they were even there. However these dangerous chemicals have been a major cause of concern for BCPP for over a decade which is when we began our advocacy efforts to ban them from children’s toys at the local, state and federal level. This has been an all hands on deck effort: Our then staff person Gretchen Lee Salter led the charge to successfully ban phthalates from kids’ toys here in California; our Director of Program and Policy Janet Nudelman led a campaign to secure passage of a federal bill that banned phthalates from kids’ toys nationally, and our senior policy strategist Nancy Buermeyer has overseen our organizational efforts to fight off industry attempts to weaken and roll-back the federal ban.

Bringing the Toxic Toys Bill to the finish line

Even through President Bush signed the ban on phthalates in kids’ toys into law in August 2008, the work to pass, implement and protect this important law began years before and continues to this day. With the help of our supporters around the country and our NGO partners, BCPP has been a leader at every step of the process. We started by working to pass California legislation in 2007 that banned six phthalates from children’s toys sold in the state and helped other states to introduce similar laws. In total, 3 states – California, Washington and Vermont – enacted laws to ban phthalates from toys and childcare articles. Buoyed by our success at the state level, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein took up the issue. She introduced an identical bill in congress in the Fall of 2007 and soon thereafter offered the bill language as an amendment to the Senate version of CPSIA. BCPP enlisted the help of environmental health, public health, and consumer advocates, as well as Congressional champions in both the House and Senator, to secure the inclusion of the phthalates provision in the final bill voted on by congress. A huge safety victory for kids and parents!

However, the 2008 passage of the bill was not the end of the story. BCPP, along with powerful NGO allies including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), worked together to ensure the law was implemented in a health-protective way. The bill called for the formation of a blue-ribbon scientific panel to review the body of scientific evidence showing harm from the phthalates banned by the law and additional phthalates that were likely to be considered as alternatives. The panel issued its report in mid-2014, with a recommendation that a total of 8 phthalates be banned from toys. Despite this clear directive, which the science panel took 6 years to issue, the CPSC took another 3 years acting only after NRDC, BCPP and the Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform (EJHA) filed a federal lawsuit demanding it adopt the science panel’s recommendations. The CPSC issued a final rule codifying the panel’s recommendations in October 2017.

Just when we thought the process was finished and the phthalate ban would finally be fully implemented, another legal obstacle appeared. Industry trade groups filed a lawsuit in federal court in December 2017 in an attempt to undo this public health victory. These industry groups included the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the trade association for the chemical industry, the National Association of Manufacturers and three Texas-based industry groups. Fortunately, the ban on the eight phthalates remains in effect while the lawsuit proceeds. NRDC, EJHA and BCPP interceded in the lawsuit to help protect this important measure, which is intended to keep kids everywhere safe from hormonally active chemicals in the toys they play with and chew on.

Celebrating 10 years of safer kids’ toys

This holiday season, and every year, childrens’ toys will be a little safer thanks to BCPP and all the organizations that fought to make this important federal law a reality. We continue to defend it against attacks by the chemical industry. As we celebrate the tenth anniversary of the CPSIA and the amazing strides in environmental public health safety since its passage, we look forward to building an even safer future for our children by continuing to enact policies that prevent breast cancer by reducing our exposure to toxic chemicals. It’s difficult work, but as every parent knows, it’s worth it.

Happy Holidays from Nancy, Janet, and all of us at BCPP!

Take Action

Make the products we buy, the food we eat, and the air we breathe safer by taking this quick action online!


Read Less

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This