#6–More Harmful Chemicals – Coal Tar Dyes

Jun 13th, 2011 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: For Senior Women

Coal tar is a combination of many chemicals derived from petroleum.  Some research suggests it is a human carcinogen and is used extensively in skin care products.  On product labels, they are identified by a five-digit Color-Index (CI) number.  The one used most in hair dyes is P-phenylenediamine.  The darker the dye, the more then phenylenediamine.

If that’s not bad enough, some of the colors are contaminated with low levels of heavy metals and aluminum compounds that are toxic to the brain.  Some dyes are prohibited as food additives, but they are used in cosmetics in ways that can be ingested, such as lipstick.

P-phenylenediamine has been found to be carcinogenic in laboratory tests.  The research literature confirms a statistically significant relationship (not causal) between hair dye use and several types of cancer.  Other studies found relationships between hair dye use and different types of cancer.

Because there is conflicting evidence about the relationship between hair dyes and cancer, The International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that personal use of hair dyes is currently “not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity in humans.” (IARC Monographs) On the other hand, The European Union classifies p-phenylenediamine as toxic (in contact with skin, by inhalation, or if swallowed) and as very toxic to aquatic organisms, noting that it may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment.

Skin irritations, possible blindness, possible cancer, allergies…  enough reason to avoid skin care products that contain this potentially harmful chemical.  Safe and beneficial products are available so the harmful stuff can be avoided.



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