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The Consumer

Women need better protection against toxic chemicals

/ 03:13 AM March 16, 2016

TO MARK International Women’s Day, a report titled “Women and Chemicals” seeks greater protection for women as consumers and workers against hazardous chemicals. It calls for more political action for better health protection.

The publication comes in the wake of recent media reports that an American court had ordered Johnson & Johnson, a globally known maker of baby products, to pay millions of dollars in damages to the family of a woman who died of cancer that was claimed to have been caused by the company’s talcum powder.


In the Philippines, the Department of Health repeatedly warns about cosmetics containing deadly chemicals.

Aside from the Johnson & Johnson case, many products made for children have been found by the consumer watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition to contain toxic chemicals and metals.


The “Women and Chemicals” report says women are exposed to a range of hazardous chemicals at home and at work and as consumers of products that contain toxins. While both women and men are exposed to hazardous chemicals every day,  it notes that “women are often differently exposed due to their (entrenched) gender roles and because of biological susceptibilities and health impacts.”

Among the chemicals mentioned that affect women’s health significantly are highly hazardous pesticides, mercury and endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).

Alexandra Caterbow of Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF) mentions Bisphenol A used in consumer products and packaging as one of the EDCs.

“Hazardous chemicals can be found in the air we breathe, in the food we eat, in the water we drink. People are largely unaware of this daily chemical exposure. The negative impact of these chemicals affects the environment and human health and can cause a number of lifelong and irreversible diseases and chronic ailments,” the report says.

It points out that the World Health Organization has established links between hazardous chemicals and the increased risk of breast cancer.

Pregnant women’s exposure to some toxic chemicals can also have negative impacts on their children.

The report was prepared by WECF, an international network of civil society organizations working for a healthy environment and genderjust society in over 50 countries. It was developed with support and expertise from the United Nations, civil society and scientific institutes.


Caterbow says urgent legislative measures are needed to better protect the health of women, men and children from hazardous chemicals. She adds that the use of safer substitutes and non-chemical alternatives should be promoted.

‘Me’ time

As the country marks Women’s Month, Karada Japanese Body Therapy Center reminds women about the need to stay healthy and well, especially since they play various roles almost every day—homemakers, mothers, wives, as well as salaried employees or career women.

Women should find some “me” time to relax and de-stress, the center says, suggesting therapeutic services that promote overall well-being like its Japanese style treatments.

Empowering women

Avon has launched new fragrances and the new Skin So Soft Advance White with Stem Essence Hand & Body Lotion to help its 6 million representatives improve their earnings. By providing new and better products that will appeal to consumers, the company hopes to further empower its all-women sales team by helping them become financially stable.

Send letters to The Consumer, Lifestyle Section, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1098 Chino Roces Ave. cor. Mascardo and Yague Sts., 1204 Makati City; fax 8974793/94; or e-mail

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TAGS: chemicals, International Women’s Day, Women
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