Evaluate Product Health Hazards Like A Pro

CommonDreams recently reported that "A guide by the Washington Department of Ecology to educate consumers on the safe and proper disposal of hazardous household products was withdrawn from publication a decade ago under industry pressure and never re-issued, according to agency documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)". Check out this link for more on the history of the apparent lobbying effort. There's a good news ending, at least. An agency from the neighboring US State of Oregon has updated the guide and that revised version is downloadable here. Get it while you can: lobbyists don't give up easily. Like many good public domain publications, the guide has a proprietary competitors. One in particular has wider utility. Want to formulate your own products with low hazard ingredients? Look below for details on free access.Check out this interactive online database located on a National Library of Medicine server (free access via this link). Because it's never too late for a Federal budget cut or Congressional intervention, however, we suggest you have at it now, while it's still up. If your favorite brand is not listed, don't despair. The directed toxicology links are useful for learning about the hazards of product constituents by name, regardless of brand.

Here's a TreeHugger original tutorial for you to try. Assume that your product has an ingredient that starts with the string "methyl" (methylparaben in this hypothetical case)

In the QuickSearch box enter "methyl", producing a long scrolling list of ingredient names.

Chose or "click" on "Sodium Methylparaben" (your ingredient of interest)

In the next screen that results,click on "Search Toxnet

Click on the "6" after the term "Toxline"

Scroll down to and click on item #5 "Methylparaben"

You should get this abstract:


Methylparaben was an irritant to the skin and eye of man. In volunteer studies it exhibited a low sensitizing potential. The paraben esters, as a generic class, are rare skin sensitizers when applied to the intact skin of man. Application to the damaged skin is a more common cause of sensitization. Methylparaben and a methyl:ethyl: propylparaben mixture have been shown on oral administration to exacerbate prexisting skin complaints. A limited number of more severe reactions have been reported from ingestion or injection of methylparaben in preparations. The ester demonstrated a low acute oral toxicity in laboratory animals. Limited studies involving repeated oral administration indicated a low toxicity in dogs and rats. Repeated oral administration was without reproductive toxic potential in a range of species. Preliminary carcinogenicity studies in rats receiving methylparaben in the diet or treated by injection gave no indication of chemical carcinogenic potential. Methylparaben was not mutagenic in the Ames bacterial test. It was able to induce chromosomal damage in mammalian cells in culture, but no similar activity was seen in rats or mice treated orally.

Let us know how it goes.