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Meet the Chemicals!

Posted on July 7, 2010

Meet the Chemicals Want to know more about the toxic characters that have leached and off-gassed into every aspect of our lives? Check out our new video to glimpse their diabolical back-room scheming, then read our web pages to discover their tragic pasts and favorite hangouts, the little-known quirks that make them so special, and how to avoid them. Here are some highlights:

Meet BPA!

BPA BPA has enjoyed international popularity as a plastic additive for decades. But now, due to recent revelations of leaching and hormone disruption, BPA is flirting with outlaw status.

Fun fact: Scientists didn’t realize BPA could leach out of plastic and into our bodies until a series of lab accidents in the 1990s. Discover his frequent hangouts, why he's dangerous, and how to avoid him.

Meet the Flame Retardants!

Flame Retardants The Flame Retardants family is full of contradiction and mystery. On the one hand, they slow fires. On the other hand, their presence in everyday items like couch cushions has been linked to cancer and learning problems.

Fun fact: In the 1970s, manufacturers added the flame retardant “chlorinated tris,” to children’s sleepwear. They stopped after a federal agency determined ‘tris’ to be a probable human carcinogen. And yet today, manufacturers continue to add toxic ‘tris’ to baby nursery items, strollers, and nursing pillows. Discover his frequent hangouts, why he's dangerous, and how to avoid him.

Meet Formaldehyde!

Formaldehyde In recent years, formaldehyde has gained notoriety for his unexpected appearance in children’s bath products and involvement in the Katrina Trailer scandal.

Fun fact: Scientists link the high rates of respiratory illness among Hurricane Katrina victims to the unusually high levels of formaldehyde inside the trailers intended to protect these already vulnerable folks. Update! Gulf oil spill cleanup workers are now being housed in these very same trailers. Discover his frequent hangouts, why he's dangerous, and how to avoid him.

Meet Lead!

Lead He’s a notorious neurotoxin from way back, causing brain damage since ancient times. Many believe it was the ancient Romans’ indiscriminate use of lead in food vessels, wine, and makeup that led to their downfall.

Fun fact: Lead loves to keep us guessing by popping up in inappropriate places. Just recently researchers discovered him lurking in children’s juice boxes. Discover his frequent hangouts, why he's dangerous, and how to avoid him.

Meet the Phthalates!

Phthalates Phthalates don’t care about fame — they prefer to stay hidden on product labels with simple pseudonyms like “fragrance.” Phthalates may be publicity shy, but given the right setting, they can off-gas and volatize with the best of them.

Fun fact: Enjoy that new car smell? Thank phthalates! Because phthalates are not chemically bound to products, they easily migrate or off-gas, making them easy to inhale. Discover her frequent hangouts, why she's dangerous, and how to avoid her.

Meet Perfluorooctanoic acid aka PFOA!

PFOA He’s a renegade magician, with a show-stopping “now you see it, now you don’t” trick. Although not present in non-stick pans themselves, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) can reappear as fumes when pans are overheated and the coating decomposes. Once he makes an appearance, it’s hard to get rid of the guy; in terms of persistence in the environment, PFOA sticks around for ages and never breaks down.

Fun fact: Keep your bird out of the kitchen! Birds and their weak respiratory systems are no match for PFOA’s toxic fumes. Birds have been documented dropping dead after being exposed to “off-gassing” from non-stick products. Discover his frequent hangouts, why he's dangerous, and how to avoid him.

Meet Trichloroethylene aka TCE!

TCE Don’t be fooled by Trichloroethylene’s (TCE) sweet odor and taste — she’s a heavy-duty industrial solvent who can cut through grease, wax, gunk, and even silicones. After strenuous degreasing sessions, TCE likes to settle down in lake and river sediment, contaminating the drinking water.

Fun fact: TCE had a brief stint in the coffee business – turns out she was great at extracting caffeine from coffee beans. But TCE lost her barista position after scientists uncovered her true identity as a carcinogen. Discover her frequent hangouts, why she's dangerous, and how to avoid her.


I'm so glad you've found our great resources as well! Enjoy!

Posted by: Lindsay - Safer Chemicals | Feb 12, 2013 7:12:47 AM

Thank you.. I'm so pleased to have found this blog as this is perfect to help teach kids and people about the perils common chemicals. I have let all my friends know about this.

Posted by: Mediation Services | Feb 11, 2013 11:36:27 PM

This doesn't even cover half of it. There are over 40k+ petrochemicals in use, of which less than 3% have even been looked at or tested.

Nearly every product that makes use of a petro-derived substance will have endocrine disruptors in them- "BPA Free" is a complete misnomer, there are thousands of other bad things we don't even know about that will be in that BPA-Free product.

Colors, Plasticizers, any vinyl, polyester, nylons, acyrlics, preservatives, exhaust, 'new car smell', 'new electronic smell'... this list goes on.

Posted by: Marco | Feb 5, 2013 6:03:55 PM

The info on this website forced me to change out 99% of the products in my home. I even went so far and build a website to teach others what products to use in their homes.

Keep up the good work Safe Chemicals!!

Posted by: Tony Wittock | Jan 5, 2013 7:39:14 PM

I love the way you use a “fun” approach fun in order to make a serious point about toxic chemicals. Very clever. Very well done.

Posted by: Ariane Rocher Jewellery | Jul 8, 2012 6:53:05 AM

Great post. Excellent practical advice. Everyone should take note.

Posted by: Ariane Rocher Jewellery | Jun 23, 2012 5:18:52 AM

Excellent advice. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Lumina Kitchens | May 23, 2012 2:27:56 AM

Our school cleans with Lysol products, is this safe?

Posted by: chris | May 3, 2012 9:17:00 AM

I am truly thankful for this website. It has opened my eyes to so many things I did not know about chemicals. Please keep informing.


Tony Wittock

Posted by: Tony Wittock | Apr 24, 2012 10:20:10 AM

I bet some of these substances are present in some aroma oils but we still need to check the product and it's contents before buying one.

Posted by: aromatherapy oils | Mar 14, 2012 6:27:41 PM

Heh, I'm so pleased to have found this blog as this is perfect to help teach kids and people about common chemicals. I have to let all my schoolteacher friends know about this. Thanks!

Posted by: Good Hotel Guide | Jan 5, 2012 11:31:24 AM

@Barbara, I look for information on the Environmental Working Group website. They can tell you what's in, say, sunscreen or lipstick or lotions...Then they rank the ingredients so you know their relative risks. It's a not-for-profit organization which has scientists and which looks over the new research; but which also does advocacy. I don't have any formal relationship with them--just found them and have come to trust the site.

Posted by: kg | Sep 26, 2011 10:17:02 PM

Wow, very happy that I heard about this web site from the Ellen show and Jessica Alba..... but I was wondering if maybe there was a list of the good and safe products somewhere that i could use? Hopefully we can get rid of these bad chemicals for good!

Posted by: barbara | Aug 18, 2011 1:42:55 PM

Very nicely done article, many thanks for posting.
I am supporting your efforts. Unfortunately consumers have become "dumbed" and the first step is to raise their awareness, then we can stand up for correcting what is so wrong and affects this and future generations.

Posted by: nuria | Aug 10, 2011 8:01:55 AM

I have a acute case of a condition called mcs or multiple chemical sensitivity. I was exposed to a very high level of sodium hypochlorite 3 years ago ( long story but we are going public very soon) bottom line is that I react to most of your list of major players.there is one that you didn't mention that is one of the strongest off gasers. It is in cheap black PVC products. It was tested in lab in our area , black vinyl clothing bag off based with. Chemical called "hexanal" . Black garbage bags, black straws, black PVC kitchen tools, drink lids, and the list goes on. When heat hits them they are even worse. Little research on hexanal has been done. The most interesting report came out of uk " stated not to ingest , inhale, and use in well venerated area". Oh and did I mention I. Pick it up on black baby strollers and car seats. Black buckles,handles,,bases ect. There are also huge amounts of black PVC on childerens toys. And yes it does leech off into foods. It has sent me to the hospital in serious condition more than once. Contact me I have alot of prove. But as I said more testing should be done. Before I go I forgot to mention black vinyl appliances especially refridgeraters Hand held voc testers can measure the parts per million ect. The problem is getting one. They cost 3 to 5 thousand dollArs. Does anyone know an affordable place to rent these testers. Thanks for this amazing web site . Feel. Free to contact me. I am in Utah

Posted by: Rhonda christensen | Aug 8, 2011 10:34:32 AM

Wow, I'm so happy to have find this blog as this is perfect to help teach kids and people about common chemicals. I have to let all my New York Magicians friends know about this. Since my magician friends can turn this into a very fun safety magic show. Thanks!

Posted by: Domino The Great - Comedy New York Magician | Jan 24, 2011 10:28:00 AM

Thanks for asking, Susan. In Massachusetts, state legislators are filing a bill this week that would set up a system to address cadmium and other hazardous chemicals that are used in every day products like children's toys and cups. The bill, called the Safer Alternatives bill, would require companies to replace toxic chemicals like cadmium with safer chemicals where feasible. It also provides a safeguard to make sure that we don't phase out one bad actor chemical only to replace it with another.

If you'd like more information, you can call our local partners at the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow in Boston: 617/338-8131

Posted by: Safer Chemicals Healthy Families | Jan 20, 2011 10:47:16 AM

Why is Massachusetts not banning or "regulating" the amounts of cadmium in children products?

Posted by: Susan Sackett ONeil | Jan 20, 2011 12:37:28 AM

I agree with what you are doing and why you are doing it. Still, the word "fun" and carcinogen should not be used together. Please use a different one. Nothing fun about the toxic poisoning of people.I understand that you seek sarcasm as a literary tool. Call them "freaky facts" or "freightening facts" or whatever, but not "fun facts". Thanks.

Posted by: itisi | Oct 23, 2010 11:28:20 AM

I am so glad to see a site like this. I should point a few of my new york magician friends this way as they seem to think that if it doesn't hurt, it must be harmless. Chemicals are not toys to be played with. Be safe.

Posted by: Joseph DiDonna | Aug 6, 2010 10:07:00 AM

this is a great way to teach people about common chemicals.

Posted by: aruiz | Jul 10, 2010 6:31:28 AM

What an awesome article. I love the theme you have going. I think it helps people to focus better on the information and thus retain it. I hope everyone is Tweeting and FB-ing this information. It must be shared! If people hear it enough, it is going to eventually change our buying habits and force the chemical industry to treat consumers with more respect.

Posted by: Marti | Jul 8, 2010 3:27:00 PM

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