Document Type

Honors Paper


Marc Zimmer

Publication Date



Personal care products are everyday consumer products used to cleanse, enhance, or alter the appearance of the body, including, but not limited to, shampoos, body washes, lotions, and cosmetics. The regulations and safety information surrounding personal care products are severely lacking. The laws regulating the environmental fate of these chemicals and the harmful effects they can have on environmental ecosystems or organisms that are exposed to them are even more limited. However, studies have shown that the chemicals can have a dizzying array of health risks, including diseases on the rise in human populations such as diabetes, obesity, autism, ADHD, learning disabilities and other neurological disorders, infertility, and some cancers. Many of these health effects have also been observed in other organisms exposed to these chemicals in the environment. Some exposures have even been shown to be toxic to certain species at high enough concentrations. This paper looked at four main classes of chemicals, phthalates, parabens, triclosan, and fragrances, in personal care products. Many of these chemicals are known endocrine disruptors, and appear in personal care products or the environment at hormone relevant concentrations, leading to adverse neurological, developmental, or sexual developmental effects, which can be extremely detrimental to a fetus or to younger organisms. Determining the fate of these chemicals in the environment and the rates of exposure are crucial to fully understanding the overall safety and environmental effects of these chemicals, and for providing more complete information for consumers on the personal care products they choose to buy and use everyday.



The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.