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Personal care pollution should be on your radar

By Simon Pitman , 14-Apr-2009

Personal care pollution should be on your radar

A rash of highly publicised scientific studies has served to underline growing awareness of pollution from personal care products. Justified or not, it will become an increasingly important issue for the industry.

Arising from awareness of environmental and concern over issues in the public domain, any perceived threat to the environment, no matter how small, is instantly jumped upon on by the press these days.

The reason for this is simple: people are hungry for this type of information.

As consumers, the general public wants to know what they can do to prevent environmental pollution as well as minimising the impact it might have on their own life styles.

The public feel sthat the more informed theit is the more likely it will be able to make informed purchases that have a limited impact on the environment.

Media is hungry for stories on environmental threats

Obviously the media is feeding this hunger by exposing any relevant information. This has led to many changes for the better with respect to consumption patterns, probably the most notable being related to packaging and the changes relating to recycling.

But now that consumer awareness of packaging and the impact that it can have on the environment is relatively high, other less obvious aspects of pollution are coming under the microscope.

For the personal care sector scrutiny is undoubtedly turning from the packaging to the contents – the formulations.

Three recent studies highlight formulation pollution

In the past month or so three separate studies relating to pollution from personal care products were given significant print space in a variety of publications, both trade and consumer related.

Studies carried out by the University of Gothenburg, in Sweden, The Baylor University in the US and a joint study by the Birmingham and Warwick Universities in the UK, point to potential hazards caused by pollution from a range of household products, including personal care.

The studies have highlighted how a range of chemicals have been detected in waterways, the sea and in farm land, detailing the potential hazards associated with these chemicals.

Misgivings over formulation pollution

Industry has voiced its concerns over these findings, pointing out that it is very difficult to pin point the true cause of these pollutants and the exact causes they might have on the environment.

Indeed, a number of industry scientists have pointed to holes in this type of research, underlining that the pollution comes from many different sources. This invariably leads to a ‘cocktail’ of chemicals which is almost impossible to trace.

Despite the misgivings, the fact is that this issue is now clearly in the public domain means that it is only going to get more coverage in the future.

How the industry deals with the issue will undoubtedly have a major impact on its perception in the public eye, but one thing is for sure, the approach is going to have to be a very careful one and one that shows the utmost consideration for the environment.

To make any comments about this article, please reply to simon.pitman 'at' decisionnews.com.

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