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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

An Ariel View

An Ariel View
An Ariel View

What would you do after finding out the over-the-counter eye drops you use contain carcinogenic chemicals?

Last Thursday someone mentioned to me there was going to be a school discussion on women’s health. I figured I’d be busy so I didn’t think I’d go at the time, but when I ended up with a few free minutes before class I had no reason not to. With no prior knowledge of the presentation I anticipated picking up a few valuable facts via some minutes of heavy lecturing, but as I left the informational session I felt shocked, alarmed at the things I’d just learned. I had walked in during a movie about cancer and its links to toxic waste products from humans in the environment. Afterwards a woman speaker from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics took the podium and shed light on an interesting issue. When she said to us, “the FDA has only banned ten chemicals from use in cosmetics in the U.S.”, I just figured that meant there weren’t many issues relating to cancer or birth defects from cosmetics in this country. It turns out, Europe has already banned 1,100 chemicals from the cosmetic products most people use daily. This leaves 1,090 chemicals, known to cause harm to humans in Europe, eligible for use in the cosmetics Americans buy.

Out of curiosity, I decided to test the facts. The Campaign’s website linked me to cosmeticdatabase.com. Here you can type in the name of any cosmetic product by name and get a list of the chemicals it contains with organized research information and danger ratings. I remembered how somebody had turned me off Visine a while ago and for the past few years I’d been happily using a mystery brand of eye drops called “Rohto V”. The first time I used them, it felt like my eyeballs were on fire, in a painful but refreshing way. But you get over the burn after the first few times and it starts feeling rather good. This should have been the tip-off.

(Note: if it feels like a mint for your eyeball and gets the redness and itching out within seconds, it’s probably too good to be healthy.)

When I typed in a search for Rohto-V in the database, several products popped up in eye care and they all got a number four hazard rating, meaning they are a “moderate hazard”. That didn’t seem too bad. I continued scrolling only to find the presence of ethanol, boric acid and other confusing chemicals like disodium EDTA, polysorbate-80, and sodium borate. These are just the chemicals on the “Proven Links to Cancer” list. There was record of multiple kinds of cell mutations. The Rohto-V data page continues to list chemicals it contains that have been banned or found unsafe for use in cosmetics under government restriction. There also appeared to be a loophole in that it also lists some of these “banned” chemicals as “determined safe for use in cosmetics subject to concentration or use limitations”. I’m reading the eye drop bottle again now and it still says, “Put 1 or 2 drops in the affected eye(s) up to 4 times daily”. Perhaps they are well on their way to inventing kryptonite to go along with all the chemicals we are exposed to daily.

I’m afraid of what a five minute web-investigation on my deodorant may find, but I’d recommend it to anyone unsure of the stuff they expose themselves to daily.