Monday, April 18, 2011

Is petroleum jelly toxic?

It's clear to me that cosmetics and skin care products are chock full of things that most people would want to avoid, if they only knew about them.  I've been pretty good at researching the safety of the products I use on Nate (like sunscreen, shampoo, soap and diaper cream). Before I buy something new for him, I make a real effort to make sure it's one of the safer options out there. But when it comes to myself, I get lazy. I use so many more products, and researching everything from mascara to moisturizer seems overwhelming.

So I'm not as informed as I would like to be. As I shop around, I've been seeing more and more beauty care products labeled "petroleum free" - which leaves me wondering what's wrong with petroleum. Vaseline (petroleum jelly) has a long history in my family - from soothing chapped lips and skin to aiding in the insertion of the evil rectal thermometer. Aside from most of the people in my family having three nipples (which I hypothesize is linked to sucking on lead filled keys while sitting in pools of BPA-laden tomato sauce), I think we turned out alright.

(All kidding aside, I hate, hate, hate when people use that line in arguments against educating themselves on the dangers of XYZ - "I did that/had that/ate that growing up and I'm fine, so I see no need to read up on current research." Oh, really? Do you know how XYZ effected your fertility and chances of getting cancer? Maybe you were fine eating plastic all day, but do you know how it influenced rates of ADHD, autism and other developmental delays in children you didn't know?) Anyway...

Vaseline Petroleum Jelly 13 oz (368 g)

So I did a little research. It turns out that petroleum jelly (aka petrolatum) gets a 2 in the EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database, which means it's listed as low hazard. Yay! But there's a 94% data gap. Hmmm. Not so reassuring. Apparently one of the major concerns is the likelihood of contamination with PAHs (Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), which is a probable carcinogen. There's such strong evidence that it's a carcinogen that it gets a 10, or high hazard, on Skin Deep. I think I'll err on the side of caution and look for petroleum free products in the future. I have zero confidence in the ability of our current laws to protect the products we purchase and use on our bodies from the contamination of cancer causing chemicals.

What about you? Do you eat petroleum jelly filled donuts?

Are you a breastfeeding mama? You may be interested in my breastfeeding articles HERE
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