Consumer Alert: Warning about potentially harmful chemicals in personal care products

The New Jersey Public Interest Group is warning about possible harmful chemicals in personal care products.

"These are chemicals that have not been sufficiently been tested for safety or they're chemicals that we know have been linked to negative health effects," Carli Jensen, of NJPIRG, tells Kane In Your Corner.

NJPIRG checked labels on a random sample of personal care products and compared the ingredients to scientific studies. One of the ingredients the group warned about could surprise you -- it's listed simply as "fragrance."

"Manufacturers don't disclose to consumers what they put in that particular ingredient, fragrance," Jensen says. "According to the International Fragrance Association, it can be a mixture of up to 3,000 chemicals that are on a list."

PIRG also suggests looking out for parabens, sometimes found in moisturizers. Some studies have linked them to hormone disruption. Phthalates, found in some cologne, are also on the group's watch list. NJPIRG says they can cause sperm damage. The group also advises being wary of sodium laureth sulfate, an ingredient common in shampoo. It is not actually harmful itself, but NJPIRG says it is sometimes contaminated with a byproduct that can be. 

Jensen advises consumers to read labels carefully. She says if you find a chemical of concern in a product you use, you can often find another brand that will not contain one.

To read the full NJPIRG study on chemicals in personal care products, go to the NJPIRG website.

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