Is Toothpaste Dangerous to Your Health?

Jerri-Lynn here. This article summarizes the sad state of affairs of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation of personal care products, with companies allowed to practice self-regulation. The article also embeds a link to a New York Times article describing legislation that would give the FDA authority to initiate recalls of such products and describes the lobbying muscle, both pro and anti, that has lined up around this initiative (click on current problems below to access that article).

Note that the current status quo, under which Canada, Europe, and Japan follow the “precautionary principle” and don’t authorize the use of chemicals until it is determined they are safe, would be threatened if the Obama administration gets its way and secures passage of trade agreements that incorporate Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanisms.

Moreover, such ISDS provisions, if enacted, would also allow potential challenges to current US regulations, and also potential future regulations, if major political change occurred and US regulators sought actively to increase the level of US health and safety or other regulatory protections.

By Larry Schwartz, a Brooklyn-based freelance writer with a focus on health, science and American history. Cross posted from Alternet.

The average American will use 20 gallons of toothpaste in their lifetime, and a new study by the Cornucopia Institute, a non-profit organization that studies ecological best practices, makes clear we should all be concerned about exposure to toxic ingredients found in toothpastes. Chemicals in toothpaste are readily absorbed through the membrane that lines the mouth (oral mucosa), meaning that, regardless of whether you swallow toothpaste or not, you are exposing yourself to some level of absorption. Children, who we know often do swallow toothpaste, are even more at risk.

When we use personal care products, we make the assumption that what we have purchased is safe and won’t harm us. We might be assuming wrong. Look no further than the current problems faced by some users of Wen hair products. Unlike pharmaceuticals, which are regulated closely by the Food and Drug Administration, the cosmetic industry, which includes personal care products like shampoos, hair care and toothpaste, is free from scrutiny from the FDA. The regulatory agency has no power of review or recall over products, nor are industry products required to even list all of their ingredients. Instead, the $71 billion industry regulates itself. And that always works out great!

Self-regulation results in a startling difference between products sold in the U.S. and those sold in Canada, Europe and Japan, where personal care products are more closely regulated. “We have a very weak regulatory system in the United States, compared to Europe and other industrialized countries, in terms of evaluating synthetic compounds in our food and personal care products,” says Mark Kastel of the Cornucopia Institute. “Other countries operate on the ‘precautionary principle,’ assuring that chemicals are safe before they are authorized for use. In our system of government, dominated by corporations funding congressional campaigns and employing legions of lobbyists and lawyers, we don’t end up evaluating dangerous chemicals until after they have already been introduced into our bloodstreams.”

For instance, of the more than 12,000 ingredients used in cosmetics, most with chemical names unintelligible to the average consumer, just 11 of them are restricted for use in the U.S. Contrast that with over 1,300 ingredients banned in Europe. (The industry, in fact, reformulates its products for sale abroad, substituting banned ingredients.) Last year, senators Dianne Feinstein from California and Susan Collins from Maine introduced the Personal Care Products Safety Act of 2015, mandating that the FDA begin regulating ingredients in personal care products, but even if it eventually passes, removal of any toxic ingredients is likely many years away.

Meanwhile, many of those banned-abroad chemicals show up in U.S. products that Americans use every day. Consider that an average man uses up to seven personal care products a day, including toothpaste, containing up to 85 unique chemicals. An average woman uses up to 12 products containing up to 168 chemicals, and a teenage girl can use up to 17 products with over 200 chemicals. That’s a lot of exposure to ingredients that may be toxic, at least as far as other developed countries are concerned.

Don’t be fooled by toothpaste labels like “natural” either. The label is meaningless, and does not preclude the possibility that potentially harmful ingredients may be present. In fact, some “natural” toothpastes are owned by the same companies that produce conventional toothpastes (Tom’s of Maine, for instance, is owned by Colgate). And that American Dental Association Seal of Approval? The ADA is partially subsidised through acceptance fees by the personal care industry, and the seal of approval does not necessarily mean the toothpaste is harmless.

In the early 1900s, toothpaste contained natural food colorings derived from plants, but as artificial colorings began to be developed from petroleum sources, these natural dyes were phased out due to their higher costs. Artificial dyes may contain up to 10 percent impurities, and some of these undesired ingredients include lead, arsenic, mercury, and carcinogens. Additionally, artificial colorings have been linked in some studies to behavioral problems in children. And even in natural toothpastes, which do not contain artificial colorings, most contain metal oxides like zinc, titanium and iron. These metals can build up in the body, and while some of them, like iron, are important for optimal bodily function, they are required in tiny doses, and in excess, can cause harm.

Toothpastes both conventional and “natural” are chock full of other suspect ingredients.

Carrageenan: an additive derived from seaweed that is used as a thickener. Carrageenan has been shown to cause intestinal inflammation, which can potentially lead to cancer.

DEA (diethanolamine): a compound used to make your toothpaste foam. It has been shown to cause eye and skin irritation, and worse, has been linked (in mice) to liver cancer. DEA can also react with other compounds not present in toothpaste to form nitrosamines, another known carcinogen.

Fluoride: a mineral used in toothpaste to strengthen tooth enamel and help prevent cavities. Although the debate over fluoride safety is an old one, it is known that fluoride is poisonous, and ingesting it can cause tooth discoloration and pits in the tooth enamel. Some studies have linked it to bone cancer in men, skeletal fluorosis and even impaired brain function.

Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives: these include a whole list of chemicals used to preserve the toothpaste. These chemicals release small amounts of formaldehyde that can be absorbed through the mouth membrane. Formaldehyde can cause eye and skin irritations and can also trigger allergies. It is also a known carcinogen.

GMO-based ingredients: which can include glycerin, xylitol, sorbitol, lecithin, xanthan gum, citric acid and maltodextrin. Like fluoride, ingredients that have been genetically modified have long been the subject of widespread debate over their safety.

Parabens: are used as preservatives, as well as in fragrance formulas. These compounds can act like the hormone estrogen, and are suspected to be endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors are thought to potentially lead to cancer, as well as developmental and reproductive issues.

The list gets longer: polyethylene glycol, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, triclosan, among others. Add to these the various abrasives, flavorings, detergents, and whiteners, all of which have, to one extent or another, been linked to potential health issues.

It is important to note that all of the ingredients above have their supporters as well as their detractors. Supporters will point to the fact that many of the studies linking the chemicals to health issues are small scale, flawed or misinterpreted. Additionally, drawing conclusions about human health from testing on animals is fraught with uncertainty.

Nevertheless, for the concerned consumer who may not want to leave her health or her child’s to chance, there are ways to avoid introducing possibly toxic ingredients into an area of your body that readily absorbs them. “The annual cost difference between buying one of the safest, organic choices, in comparison to mass-market toothpaste, is incredibly small and I would suggest worth the investment,” notes Kastel. A few brands of organic toothpastemanage to clean your teeth without potential harm to your health. Or you can actually make your own toothpaste.

Most important of all, you should make your concerns known. As an essentially self-regulated industry, the personal care companies mostly respond to their bottom line. If sales are good, they will see no reason to upset the apple cart. However, if enough consumers complain about the issues they are concerned about, and back it up by making it known they are not purchasing a product until changes are made, rest assured the industry will respond.

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117 comments

  1. tony

    I am not so impressed with the European regulations. In Europe carrageenan is everywhere, almost every “normal” toothpaste has fluoride. Fluoride is naturally recommended by the medical establishment. Even a lot of medicines have titanium dioxide, which is neurotoxic.

  2. Tinky

    I haven’t used mainstream (arguably toxic) toothpastes for decades. Having said that, I do suspect that some fears touched on in the above article are overblown. For example, there is a huge difference between ingesting Carrageenan in food products, and absorbing trace amounts through tooth brushing. I don’t doubt that it is inflammatory, but that can, of course, be true of almost any substance, depending on the degree of exposure.

    1. Caroline

      The tissues in the oral cavity are highly absorptive – upwards of 90%, as much so as intestinal mucosa – and low-molecular-weight carrageenan is highly inflammatory and carcinogenic. When one considers a lifetime of exposure, the risks become clear. The full report on the Cornucopia Institute website does a good job of discussing these nuances in detail whereas Schwartz’s summary admittedly falls short.

  3. PhilU

    As a chemical engineer I find much of this troubling. I am all for much better laws and the changing of standards so that testing is required beforehand. This comes across as a chemicals are scary so don’t use them attack piece. Problematic things:
    Carcinogenic: – Almost everything is carcinogenic at some level. The sun, anything that gets charred during cooking. Natural substances are just as likely to be carcinogenic as synthetic ones

    DEA can also react with other compounds not present in toothpaste to form nitrosamines, another known carcinogen.

    Oxygen can react with items not present (sunlight) to produce ozone:

    Even very low concentrations of ozone can be harmful to the upper respiratory tract and the lungs. The severity of injury depends on both by the concentration of ozone and the duration of exposure. Severe and permanent lung injury or death could result from even a very short-term exposure to relatively low concentrations.

    Should we all ban oxygen?

    Formaldehyde, really?

    Formaldehyde and its adducts are ubiquitous in living organisms. It is formed in the metabolism of endogenous amino acids and is found in the bloodstream of humans and other primates at concentrations of approximately 0.1 millimolar Experiments in which animals are exposed to an atmosphere containing isotopically labeled formaldehyde have demonstrated that even in deliberately exposed animals, the majority of formaldehyde-DNA adducts found in non-respiratory tissues are derived from endogenously produced formaldehyde.

    Chemicals in that list that are note worthy and deserve to be looked into:
    Anything that is an Endocrine disruptor, however even those in small doses are insignificant, but there are more and more of them around which is one of the reasons the onset of puberty has been coming earlier
    Sodium laureth sulfate – not even that it is toxic, it is a soap and we overuse soaps, in your mouth this leads to mouth ulcers, wikipedia it.

    We would probably all be better off if we didn’t use soap except to wash our hands. It tends to destroy the good bacteria cultures and allow for bad ones to take over. Just using water, baking soda, and vinegar would be better for us but people are hesitant to smell like Italian Dressing all day.

    1. Banana Breakfast

      The formaldehyde canard is an old scare tactic from the crusades against aspartame, which also breaks down into formaldehyde (among other things, of course). Here as there, the quantities are well below what your body produces naturally and can process without difficulty.

      That said, it’s certainly the case that regulation of the cosmetic industry (and most others) in the US is totally inadequate, and that dentistry is a field rife with quackery and corporate funded pseudo-science. Just try finding robust research on the efficacy of different oral hygiene practices – it’s a depressing search.

      1. Portia

        the body is compartmented. chemical reactions occur in discrete environments. so just because there is formaldehyde produced in the body, this does not mean that drinking it, injecting it or putting it on your skin is OK. just like eating your poop can make you sick, even though it is perfectly safe in your colon.

        1. Banana Breakfast

          Formaldehyde is a byproduct of the digestion of methanol and is itself processed into, among other things, formic acid. Formic acid is toxic in fairly low doses – but this methanol-formaldehyde-formic acid chain is triggered any time you take in pectin, which means any time you eat fruit and a lot of other vegetable matter, especially apples, carrots, and citrus fruits. To my knowledge there are no cases of toothpastes causing formic acid poisoning, as there’s not enough formaldehyde in a whole tube to overwhelm your digestive system’s capacity to process it.

          Formaldehyde can be quite dangerous when used as a preservative in food products (as it still sometimes is especially in Southeast Asia, where there are semi-regular incidents of mass poisoning) or, more commonly, as a component of resins in construction materials which then produce vapors that can be extremely irritating and contribute to asthma and cancer.

    2. Plenue

      Glad someone else mentioned how ridiculous it is to be afraid of formaldehyde. It’s a naturally occurring substance that is found in many things, including apples.

    3. jgordon

      This post reminded me of articles describing the dangerous chemical dihydrogen monoxide. Sure even though no one has ever heard of it this dangerous chemical does kill millions of people every year, but is it really that bad?

      Regardless, it’s absolutely true that the government’s first priority is to protect industry profits, not health. In a sense, anyone who trusts the government to keep them safe, including me and you in those circumstances where we rely on the government, is a fool who deserves what he gets.

    4. Praedor

      The endocrine disruptors are also a major problem in the wild. Rivers and streams are loaded with our endocrine disrupting chemicals and it is harming fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds…and potentially anything that drinks the water.

      Early onset puberty in girls, screwed up development in boys, lower and lower sperm counts in all men in the developed world over the decades…all reasons to dump ALL endocrine mimics and even look at how sewage is treated and released (women using birthcontrol pills end up dumping lots of the hormones into their urine which then makes it to water treatment facilities that do nothing about hormones (antibiotics and other drugs as well) and just release it all into rivers and streams.

      And the thing about hormones, particularly in the young: a little goes a long way. Hormones have big effects in small doses.

  4. Kevin C. Smith

    Glycerin, xylitol, sorbitol, lecithin, xanthan gum, citric acid and maltodextrin are chemicals. They can’t be genetically modified. Their production processes may use genetically modified feedstocks, but that’s another matter, and has no bearing on the safety of those chemicals.

    Every organism on Earth is “genetically modified”, including me and you. Most have genomes which simply evolved, and their genomes have had epigenetic modifications as a result of environment, and as a result of the lives of a few generations of their ancestors. Some were specially bred for desirable characteristics. Breeding of plants and animals has gone on for a very long time. More recently, scientists have learned to more precisely modify the genomes of organisms in the lab. All organisms, however, are “genetically modified”, depending on the definition you use.

    1. a different chris

      Yes and if you drive the speed limit and obey all other traffic laws you may still get into a wreck and get seriously hurt, whether it is a mechanical failure or some other guy’s fault (maybe he also did all that but just picked that unfortunate moment to have a heart attack).

      The above is NOT an argument to speed and ignore traffic signals. Yes you – most of the time – will get to where you need to go quicker but the one time you don’t will grieviously affect your future.

      We don’t know much about how genetics works. Even you felt compelled to modify your own sentence — “more precisley”, and I don’t even know what “more precisely” means? — and pretty much all of the lofty GMO pronouncements have come to nothing (yellow rice, anybody?).

      I’ve said it before: genetics is a very important field of study. The most important field there is, in fact. The government should spend more on it than they do the stupid F-35. But I have not been convinced – and am becoming more unconvinced – that we are ready to mess around with our food supply and especially when distributing, not producing, calories and nutrition is the real problem here.

      I don’t think we can make the same mistakes with GMO that we did with the Industrial Revolution.

      1. Plenue

        “yellow rice, anybody?”

        It’s called Golden Rice, and it’s been a great success. It was designed to do one thing: provide an increased amount of vitamin A, and it’s done exactly that.

        1. c heale

          It isn’t being widely used at the moment and it isn’t a great success. Wikipedia says it’s still in development. It is completely unnecessary in any regard, because vitamin can be had from many sources in traditional diets, for example, mangoes contain vitamin A. The problem with hunger is a problem due to lack of availabilty of land to poorer people and centralised control of the food supply.

          1. Don

            GMOs haven’t delivered on their promises. One promise was that fewer pesticides would be required, but actually more pesticides are used, and glyphosate-resistant GMO crops, for example, are designed for pesticide use.

    2. Praedor

      True enough, however, the problem with GMOs is they are everywhere and are spreading their alterations into wild plant populations (of all species). They are also producing a VERY genetically restricted population of no variation at all across the world in all fields. They invite/require heavy use of chemicals be sprayed on them or on the ground (and a lot of those chemicals are damaging – hormone disruptors, neurotoxins, carcinogenic, etc) and all that ends up in rivers and streams AND in all of us. It is impossible, for instance, to find any Westerner with no RoundUp (glyphosate) in their bloodstreams. True of wildlife too.

      So it is the use of GMOs that is the main problem, not necessarily what specific function this or that modification has and whether that, in itself, is a health risk. The entire process is a very damaging and dangerous risk.

  5. dw

    suspect that there are no ingredients that are in any tooth paste that are totally safe. but considering that we have had in the past some of these products that contained what essentially anti-feeze, one wonders why Congress doesnt mandate their being regulated. course unless voters care about it wont happen. just like Epipen brouhaha, any such scandal will just be temporary until its out of the news (even if nothing really changes, just like Epipen, and the previous one to that).

    which just brings up this fact about business. it only cares about the bottom line (profits). the really short version is have as low cost to sales volume means profits. so if a business could do it, they would do nothing but take in your money and do nothing at all. but they have to market what they supposedly sell, or you wont buy it. if they can get away with just the marketing and you still will buy then they are good with that. but if you actually wont buy unless its actually safe to do so. then they will do what they can to make you think its safe. like getting a meaningless seal of approval. and haven gotten Congress to order the FDA to ignore these products, they dont have any one really looking over their shoulders

  6. Torsten

    I’ve been brushing with baking soda for decades. But toothpaste is just click bait. The real issue, as Jerri-Lynn indicates, is the potential intrusion of TPP etc into the most personal corners of our lives. Disappointing that Alternative missed this connection.

  7. Pete

    I don’t have the greatest teeth and mouth but my own experience iso, I used crest and after many years of no problems my mouth bleed every time I brushed my teeth. I switched to Tom’s and the bleeding stopped. Guess I gotta switch to something else now..

      1. beth

        I personally have been looking into this issue for the last year. I have had dental hygienists express concern that the skin in my mouth was sloughing off. Finally I started trying to learn what has been causing it since two dentists and 4 dental hygienists did not seem to know why this was happening.

        None of the professionals suggested an alternative so I have switched to my own homemade toothpaste with a temporary recipe of coconut oil & baking soda as I try to get more information.
        As you may guess, there are a myriad of recipes on the internet with little or no science attached.

        I can say the sloughing off has stopped. And my tongue gets more natural color despite my eating blueberries and drinking coffee and tea. I am glad this topic came up. I too suspect it is the SLS.

        1. PhilU

          Baking soda and water makes a gritty but effective toothpaste, its a base and attempts to remove stains and germs by reacting with weak acids. I would recommend just gargling with a tiny amount of coconut oil separately. That is to dissolve things that are not water soluble. Order probably doesn’t matter.

          1. beth

            Interesting idea. I put both ingredients in pubmed and the research was positive with both. I was surprised to learn that the coconut oil is antibacterial. I didn’t read anything that suggested that baking soda was too abrasive, although a friend told me her dentist said it was. I thought the oiliness of the coconut oil would annoy me but it doesn’t. It is not liquid until it goes in your mouth so is easy to apply to your toothbrush.

            That doesn’t mean that I don’t need to add an ingredient that re-mineralizes the enamel. That is where I am stuck right now. Cocoa powder has been recommended by some. Bentonite clay is also recommended by others. I’m still in flux so I will try your idea.

        2. James Cole

          Google “oral lichen planus” That could be what you have. If so, avoid mint and cinnamon and see if that helps.

    1. Caroline

      Or, stick with Tom’s, since it’s working for you; just because Colgate bought out Tom’s doesn’t mean Tom’s toothpaste is unsafe. I am much more concerned about toothpaste sold in dollar stores, and toothpaste containing plastic micro-beads.

    2. ToivoS

      Surely you must know that baking soda is a toxic chemical. It must be used in moderation. Just like all of the other chemicals mentioned in the article.

  8. ClaudiaR

    I would like to build on one of PhilU’s comments on “Is Toothpaste Dangerous To Your Health?”

    I read Naked Capitalism every day so I can learn new, important facts without being proselytized along the way. In my opinion, the whole structure and wording of this article is designed to convert, not inform. It is long on position, short on evidence.

    This is not the first time in very recent days that such an article has been included at Naked Capitalism. I sincerely hope this does not indicate a change in policy or standards at this wonderful website or represent a trend ….

    1. TheCatSaid

      I think some posts at NC are deliberately provocative in the best sense, in that they draw out a multitude of information and diverse perspectives from the commentariat.

  9. lyman alpha blob

    My dentist prescribes toothpaste made by the Dental Herb Company. It’s gray and it tastes like grass clippings so I’m guessing that makes it good for me. ;)

  10. Robert Hahl

    As a chemist, product additive names are intelligible to me. Over decades I have seen a great majority of them come and go. So at least we are not usually exposed to the same exact additives forever, and toxicity is a function of dose and exposure time. Even smoking probably won’t hurt you if you quite soon enough.

    Those additives which do remain in widespread use are eventually tested for safety, and when found to be dangerous are generally replaced by some other (untested) chemical, which may or may not remain in use for long.

    1. Robert Hahl

      Another aspect of safety testing is that some people make a career out of trying to show that an important chemical is dangerous. For instance, the solvent chloroform (CH3Cl) is carcinogenic. There are periodic attempts to show that the related solvent methylene chloride (CH2Cl2) is also carcinogenic, which it clearly is not at this point, but that doesn’t stop people from trying to prove it (and claiming that they have proved it this time).

        1. Robert Hahl

          The reference you cited supports my statements. It says “dichlorometane is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” which means that the testing so far has been inconclusive despite lots of work on this question.

          1. PhilU

            I suppose I didn’t really dig in after I saw the active BioAssays. Still not something I plan on snuggling up to.

    1. Stormcrow

      P.S. As one of my links above suggests, it is also a good idea to pay attention to what’s in your deodorant. Personally, I like Aubrey E Plus High C . No bad stuff in it. All good.

      1. Praedor

        Ah. But does it WORK? Too many people around me don’t appear to use deoderant, or don’t use enough, or perhaps they are just using MgSO4. Perhaps I can leave some functional deoderant on all the offendings’ desks. They may take the hint.

      1. pete

        It is too bad that all of those guys are right wing nut jobs… (whole foods). It would be nice if someone with principles tried to bring something ethical and effective to market.

  11. Furzy

    I’ve been using a small spoon of H2O2 Hydrogen Peroxide as a mouthwash after brushing for a number of years….30 seconds of swishing…… has pretty much eliminated any gum problems or disease….

    1. JamesG

      Hydrogen Peroxide is the “whitening” ingredient in toothpaste.

      I buy a quart bottle for 88 cents at WalMart and use it as a pre-brushing mouthwash.

      1. ToivoS

        Hydrogen peroxide is also an inflammatory agent and hence that makes it a carcinogen. It kills human cells by the same mechanism that it kills bacteria.

        1. PhilU

          True, but misleading. Anything that creates oxidative stress can be considered a carcinogen, but I don’t think that is a good way for most people to think about it. Peroxide is also important in signaling. Have a vitamin C after you swish and that should be fine. Or, just stick to baking soda and coconut oil if you are dead set against toothpaste.

  12. anonymous123

    I’m sorry, but this article was the equivalent of a “dihydrogen monoxide is bad for you” meme. You clearly lack scientific training and if I had the time I’d tell you why many (but not all) of the toxic ingredients you listed are completely over-exaggerated or so out of context as to be meaningless. I certainly did not expect this type of writing on NC.

    1. Roger Smith

      No amount of “learn science you rube” dismantles the large red flag that this piece is actually about. I am so tired of science ‘learned’ folks telling everyone else “it’s fine you idiots!”

      If it’s fine, why doesn’t anyone have definitive information or easy access to that information? (It’s so much easier to fly by in a tizzy) Where are these questions then coming from? If it is so obvious, why aren’t people being taught and welcomed to the knowledge? Instead they are told to go away and let the trusted [corporate] scientists do their work. It is meritocratic, elitist garbage (similar to how pro-GMO people act)–completely relevant to what is discussed here in NC.

      No one is claiming truth or falsehood, they are promoting an avenue for discussion. You shouldn’t take anything for granted, especially what some Harvard bio-tech grad sponsored by Johnson Johnson says is “fine”. Again, red flag–play it safe and avoid it until you know for sure. These are bad practices and precedents.

        1. PhilU

          What could I say that would change your mind? I assume not much, The peer reviewed literature could be corporate funded. The fact that people aren’t rolling over dead who have been using the stuff their whole lives clearly isn’t persuasive enough. But if your convinced that it’s poison along with every other personal care item just get some apple cider vinegar, backing soda, and peroxide. That is more then enough to clean yourself with.

          1. Norb

            I wonder if it is just death by a thousand cuts. Taken as a whole, modern industrial life has provided improvements to increase the average life span of humans. Overall it has been good for the short haul- hundreds of years. But what can be said of the longer term? We are all so conditioned to think only of ourselves, that taking notice of dangerous trends leading to destruction of productive, sustainable life is becoming more problematic. I have been hearing the argument all my life that everything is ok because it doesn’t kill you quickly, and by the way, you are living longer than humans in the past. But that reasoning in itself doesn’t negate the fact that there are underlying problems that need to be addressed if a longer perspective is considered at all.

            Humans believe themselves to be the masters of nature. Here lies our undoing. Until we can take seriously the responsibility of ensuring the sustainability of our environment, we will end up as evolutionary failures. As a society, we cannot even begin to discuss these issues due to the fact that everyone’s lives are enmeshed in producing blue toothpaste and the myriad other unnecessary products that keep the current system chugging down the path to oblivion.

            So yes, the environment will continue to absorb our gross abuses until it no longer can and then our smug assurance as a species will surly be put to the real test. I’m beginning to understand the concern the elite have for radical environmentalists. If the day ever arrives where a spiritual awakening occurs linking human agency and the protection of nature, a powerful force will be let loose in the world. I could envision it as a more powerful force than nationalism.

            Until that day arrives, we will continue to polarize as a society. Those unconcerned with the externalities fobbed off on the world by the reigning economic system, and those interested in addressing the destruction.

            When considering oral hygiene for humanity, the technology and human brainpower already exists to solve this problem forever. I would bet that one factory in a developed country could produce enough toothbrushes made of a 100% biodegradable material to supply every person on the planet with all the tooth brushes they would ever need in a lifetime. Add to that the education of dental hygiene combined with simple, effective methods costing pennies instead of dollars to implement, we might actually experience human progress. Satisfying human needs is not the goal though. So we will continue to get our new and improved plastic products until the end of time.

            Somehow, I don’t think that time is that far away- in a long term sense.

            1. PhilU

              It is, sort of. My biggest worry in that vein is the overuse of antibiotics that have killed off unknowable types of good gut bacteria that took centuries to develop. Those bacteria can effect everything from your immune response to your mood and we can’t just turn back the clock. Probiotics are a band aid.

              There are only a handful of things to worry about in toothpaste which I have talked about in other comments.

              1. Norb

                All of life is chemistry- a wonder to behold. I had to laugh at your “smell like Italian dressing all day” comment because I had that exact experience. The cleaning crew for our office started using a vinegar and water mix to wipe down our work surfaces. Working late one night, I became aware of an unfamiliar oder with my first reaction being, “what the hell is that smell?”

                Like everything else in life, once getting over the newness of the experience, and my senses adjusted to the new environment, I no longer even notice the smell. I had the same experience working in a factory in high school. A spray coating to protect mirrors during production had a strong oder that permeated the entire factory floor. What harm that concoction of chemicals was doing is anyones guess. A chemical engineer could defiantly draw some interesting inferences to later behavior in relation to that particular exposure.

                In the end, it all revolves around the culture. What is accepted and what are it’s goals. Capitalists hide or obfuscate the negative effects of their actions, while promote the positives. They claim entitlement to profits generated by an organization, while sharing the hardships and losses. They claim superior knowledge before the fact, and distance themselves form adverse outcomes after the fact. It is a culture of- heads I win, tails you loose.

                That can’t loose mentality blinds the powers that be to reality. Yes, you can loose, and loose big. As you say, once it’s gone, you can’t go back.

          2. Roger Smith

            That is the problem. You (and the “everything is fine” cohort) do not even attempt to try to tell anyone anything, in any meaningful ways. What average citizen goes around reading peer reviewed journals? What average citizen even knows how to find those? What average citizen would understand them if the did? They see the easy to access garbage and, in the absence of any good way to “know better” (as the “experts” suggest), they start to accept some of it.

            If GMO companies for example wanted to push back against labeling laws, they should have done so by educating the general population. Create informative pamphlets for grocery stores and a easy to use website that gives a through history of GMO use for each type of food, etc… Instead they said “oh, all those people are dumb. They are wrong and dumb. I went to college!” You get this meritocratic divide, where the well-bred academics look down on the fools below and scoff.

            That is the assumption.

            1. PhilU

              With GMO’s I 100% agree that’s what they should have done. They didn’t though, and banning all GMO’s now would cause about 1/3rd of the population to die of starvation. Monsanto is one shady company but the benefits in land productivity are not something we can just ignore.

              It’s not that I even mind explaining it, it’s that I have already at several places in this post. I could go in deeper but its honestly not all that interesting. The world is always trying to kill you, Synthetic or natural there is only so much people can process of anything. Chemicals easily save more lives then they take. Even just plastics.

              1. ToivoS

                I agree completely with your comments Phil. I too am trained chemistry and microbiology and taught those subjects (toxicology, pharmacology, microbiology) in medical schools. It is very difficult to explain those subjects to lay people. And if you try then a common response is that you part of the pharma, big bad medicine conspiracy. We see examples of deep ignorance here — not knowing difference between GM organisms and chemicals or not realizing formaldehyde is a natural product and certainly not being aware that parts per million is qualitatively different than parts per hundred when thinking about pharmacological effective doses.

                1. Norb

                  Writers and educators for the general public are a rare breed. Carl Sagan, Bill Bryson, Timothy Ferris, James Burke, and Philip Morrison to name a few. Even, Richard Feynman is considered a great popularizer of physics due to his genius at making complex ideas accessible to lesser minds. As with all the greats, he was more interested in communicating the knowledge than personal glorification.

                  The main problem we face today is how common people are viewed by those in power. When we are all reduced to cogs serving the machine of capitalism and efficient market operation, there is little need to promote or support strong general education for the population. Blame the victim tactics are brought out and successfully implemented. The lack of good programming is blamed on lack of demand, even though that demand was a conditioned response in the first place. Look no further than the power of contemporary advertising.

                  Common people are just wore out by decades of abuse. Experts have been given free reign and they don’t have much to show for it except very large bank accounts.

              2. Norb

                I have no problem with experts and would gladly defer to those more qualified and smarter than myself. That is the way democracy should work. That is the way a meritocracy should work. But what is glossed over in these discussions is the importance of human needs and equality. Equality in the deeper sense of justice and decency.

                The question is are we traveling down the wrong path? For that matter, what path are we truly on? Those on the bottom of the social pyramid don’t need sophisticated explanations of the current social order, they feel the weight every day. They normally can take quite a burden, but press down too much and something is going to break. The charge of ignorance is used as a club to beat down the stirring discontent.

                Experts and well healed professionals are beginning to be viewed with contempt
                by the losers of the current system.There are many and the number is growing. All the marketing and propaganda in the world cannot gloss over starving, jobless, people. Blaming the victim tactics looses potency over time as the rate of impoverishment shortens to a single lifetime. It’s the system, not the person.

                There are larger political and philosophical questions at play that need answering. In a healthy and stable society, those answers and insights to possible solutions would be sought out by all societies members.

                Capitalism is an Authoritarian system which precludes this possibility. And professionals that serve and draw their sustenance from that system confuse narrow expertise or speciality with expertise for spreading general knowledge or wellbeing. Trickle down economics, privatization of public schools, and let the smart educated people make the decisions and all that. But that general knowledge would not serve capitalism, so it is subverted.

                A general education is just that, general. No experts. That doesn’t mean you don’t end up with highly specialized technicians in the end. It means a strong healthy system would not train for the specialist at the get-go.

                I make my living in the graphic design business. I am reaching the end of my career and It breaks my heart that young energetic 3D designers spend countless hours trying to design a new, “Innovative” bottle shape or cap for a soft drink. The focus on hitting gold with a patentable design that will be used worldwide. It is the strike it rich and cash out mentality. That is where the brainpower is going and I’m sure that mentality is repeated across all disciplines in contemporary society. As the worlds oceans fill up with plastic debris, corporations greenwash the problem and our expert technicians work out better bottles. Never making the connection that we shouldn’t be producing them in the first place.

                The problem is if GMO fails to deliver, or if the possible nightmare scenarios occur, the general knowledge and ability to farm successfully might be lost. Let alone the loss of genetic diversity. That would be catastrophic for humanity.

                We are all servants to this system one way or another. Choosing sides is underway as to maintain it or to change it. Real change is going to be drastic, but that necessary doesn’t mean a bad thing.

                1. PhilU

                  Several valid points. The catastrophic failure of GMO’s is also a real possibility, the failure to at least preserve some genetic diversity of many food stocks was a huge oversight at the beginning of GMO dominance.

                  The faux democracy is infuriating to almost everyone. If as a citizen of the most powerful country in the world I feel like I have no say in anything that happens to me I can only imagine how people in more authoritarian states feel. Unless it is just something about the fake feeling like we have any say over anything that really just rubs people the wrong way. The biggest problem is that we have so many people who are so easily manipulated by propaganda that voting has become meaningless. It isn’t people voting for their interests, which would be fine, it’s people being spoon fed ideas from their corporate overlords in such great numbers that anyone with a brain gets out numbered.

                  That is another flaw of capitalism; inability to price harm to the environment at production. It ends up incentivising ecocide. The world is going to hell.

          3. Xihuitl

            “just get some apple cider vinegar, baking soda, and peroxide.”

            Those are my all-purpose personal care products, and they work fine. Vastly cheaper too. Baking soda paste for occasional shampoo, cider vinegar infused with rosemary and bay leaves for hair rinse (especially if water is hard or after swim in chlorine), as well as for face wash, dab of baking soda for deodorant, toothbrush dipped in baking soda for brushing teeth. Still using dental floss with a swish of hydrogen peroxide after.

            Teeth fine, hair and skin good. Soap good for washing hands though.

          4. neo-realist

            My Dentist believes that Toms and other natural toothpastes are crap for your teeth. I don’t believe he’s a stooge for the elites, but I suspect he’s seen the “benefits” of the use of such pastes. The quality ADA anti cavity anti gingivitis toothpastes have by and large worked well for me with minimal cankers ( L-Lysine works well if you catch the sore early) and no ill effects. While they may be corporate, I don’t believe we seen evidence of a massive upsurge in illnesses due to the widespread use of their toothpaste.

            1. PhilU

              Your dentist is likely noting the lack of fluoride in the natural regime. As long as you drink unfiltered tap water you should be good.

    2. Robert Hahl

      I disagree, the topic is valid, although the righter (why put a “w” in front?) should consult a chemist to make sure that all details are stated accurately.

      To my knowledge glycerin, xylitol, sorbitol, lecithin, xanthan gum, citric acid and maltodextrin are all perfectly safe additives. I presume he meant that these compounds are being made using GMO methods. However, that somewhat serious mistake does not suggest to me that he should find other work.

        1. cwaltz

          This assumes that the chemistry affects each of us the same. It doesn’t appear to. Yes, we all have the same body parts but each of us has unique genomes that may or may not respond to chemistry in the same way as others.

          You see this all the time when dealing with medicine. Some people have allergies to components while others do not. Some people respond to a specific active ingredient better than another or may do better with a product that has different inactive ingredients but the same active ingredient. It’s not as simple as tobacco bad……..as we’ve learned from people who have lived over a century despite the smoking habit. Nor is it as simple as saying tobacco unharmful when we’ve got a litany of evidence that suggests that for many parts of the population it IS harmful.

        2. Robert Hahl

          Chemistry is a contact sport. At least for short term effects, it is a matter of life and death to know how each chemical present in a laboratory can affect the human body, and how to clean them all up if something spills or explodes.

    3. Caroline

      No doubt that a more skilled writer would have narrowed the essay’s focus to its most important theme, which Scofield correctly ID’d in her intro (adverse impact of corporate self-regulation on human health). Given “the fact that many of the studies linking the chemicals to health issues are small scale, flawed or misinterpreted”, Schwartz’s essay would have been much tighter and more convincing if the entire section on “suspect ingredients” had been left out, but perhaps there was an Alternet-prescribed word count to be met. The full Cornucopia Institute report (not to be confused with the executive summary linked in the Alternet piece) does a much better job in its 13-page discussion of specific toothpaste ingredients. Another excellent resource (referenced in the full CI report) is the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep cosmetics database.

    4. Praedor

      A small amount of chemicals in just toothpaste may not have any adverse effects on an adult, the problem expands: many things you consume OTHER than toothpaste often contain many of the same chemicals. ALL the people using these chemicals flush them down the toilet or sink so they end up in rivers and streams. ALL the people adding ALL their chemicals (in “safe small amounts”) and dumping them into rivers and streams. Some of that water gets cycled back for you to drink so there you are, drinking in everyone’s “safe small amounts” in every glass of water (or anything made with that water) and combining that with your individual dosing every time you use or consume the products containing them. Adds up.

  13. TheCatSaid

    Thanks NC for covering this issue. I found the 2 links at the end of the article to be particularly good–one has a spreadsheet of LOTS and LOTS of toothpastes (including many “natural” ones) and indicates which things they do & don’t contain.

    The other tells you about making your own. (short version–baking soda on its own is good, or even brushing w/o any toothpaste at all)

  14. Brian

    a123; any help would be appreciated as H2O can be problematic when combined with other things, no?
    Is it true that many personal care products for hair and skin are also common to dry cleaning products?

  15. DJG

    I find the hysteria about fluoride to be reminiscent of the hysteria about vaccinations. Fluoride and vaccinations are astounding success stories, along with water purification (which is regularly criticized for using too much chlorine). Before vaccinations and water treatment, in the days of our parents and grandparents when people in their forties were expected to lose all their teeth, life expectancy was much shorter. And there was the inconvenience of those diphtheria and cholera epidemics–in U.S. cities.

    I’m beginning to think that people are so used to the successes that they don’t understand how delicate these successes are. Do we truly want to go back to failure?

    That said, I also recall that when Jill Stein mentioned how untrustworthy the FDA can be, she was smeared as an anti-vaxxer. This article shows vividly what she is talking about.

    1. Portia

      Much-improved sanitation and personal hygiene are responsible for much of the “progress” you are talking about. When doctors started washing their hands with simple soap and water when delivering babies, the death rate of new mothers and infants dropped. Getting rid of open gutters in the street where everyone tossed even dead bodies was another plus. And awareness that cleaning the mouth and teeth spread and more people started cleaning their mouths and teeth. In other countries, they were already doing this. And yes, the “more is better” approach to killing germs and pathogens has killed some people and made others sick. I am now a person highly sensitive to lab-concocted chemicals in combinations that don’t occur naturally, and I don’t throw myself into the mud as a stepping-stone for “progress”, believe me.
      I am so sick and tired of apologists like you for the lack of forethought or even present thought that precipitates “progress”.

      1. DJG

        Spare me. You have no plan for how to make changes other than to complain more.

        When was the last time people in the U.S. threw bodies in the street? Does it relate to the notable increase in life expectancy at the beginning of the 20th century?

        People have used toothpastes of various kinds for thousands of years. Ask your dentist about fluoride and the decline in cavities.

        And how do you feel about drinking from water sources that haven’t been treated?

        And I’m sure that you don’t want anyone to use antibiotics. After all, Pasteur and the germ theory of disease–that’s just a lack of forethought.

        1. Portia

          I drink from a deep well. so far, so good. not complaining, except about bone-headed thinking. oh and yeah, here comes the anti-vaxxer ploy. LOL

    2. Noah Bodhi

      I have a fluoride allergy. You should see what my lips and mouth look like when I use fluoride. But it really is not an allergy and they do not know why it happens to some people. so I cannot use fluoride and have not for the last 20 years and I do not get cavities. After stopping drinking fluoridated water my gut health improved as well. So fluoride is not a success to me at all. In fact, it made my life worse. But hey, I am just an outlier, do not concern yourself with me.

      I wonder how many other people who might be a little less sensitive to fluoride are out there.

      Also, fluoride levels in water were just ordered to be lowered across the board throughout the united states, down to .7PPM. I wonder why they would do that if it was such a success?

    3. andyb

      The Harvard study on Fluoride proves that it is a neurotoxin and can be linked to Alzheimers and possibly autism, but no mention in the MSM. How many cities and municipalities still continue fluoridation of water supplies, despite the risk. Maybe there is something to the conspiracy theory that Agenda 21 is all about incremental depopulation.

  16. Portia

    I can’t use “commercial” or big corp-type products, for decades now, and I think the labeling is getting even more unreliable as consumer protections, i.e. manufacturer responsiblity, is practically non-existent, and “voluntary” (if it starts affecting their profits negatively enough). Many of them, I find, are all made in the same huge factory anyway wherever that place may be, with different labels slapped on. Thanks for this very much.

    I have been using Auromere Ayurvedic products for many years. I love this toothpaste of theirs, Auromere Herbal Toothpaste Non-Foaming Cardamom-Fennel. here are ingredients:

    Ingredients: Fine Chalk (a gentle cleanser), Glycerine (from vegetable oil), Purified Water, Herbal extract blend: [Neem (azadirachta), Peelu (salvadora persica), Indian Licorice Root, Pomegranate Rind, Common Jujube, Rose Apple, Clove, Persian Walnut, Barleria Prinoitis Bark (vajradanti), Indian Almond, Bedda Nut, Asian Oak, Prickly Ash, Zanthoxylum Alatum (tejbal), Sappan Wood, Catechu, Bengal Madder, Acacia Arabica Bark (babul), Sarsaparilla, Cinnamon, Medlar Bark, Mayweed, Bishop’s Weed (flower extract)], silica, carageenan (from seaweed), cellulose gum (from plants), Fennel oil, Cardamom oil.

    1. PhilU

      The lack of exposure to pathogens as children is almost certainly responsible for the up tick in sever allergic reactions. If any things bother you You can clean just about anything sufficiently with baking soda and vinegar (separately).

      1. Portia

        I grew up before all that disinfecting–I got plenty filthy. my immune system can handle pathogens

        1. PhilU

          Did you have large doses of antibiotics as a kid? and/or were you delivered with a C-section?
          Both of those things can be detrimental to your microbiome which can have strong effects in places you wouldn’t suspect.
          If so probiotics might help.
          Otherwise, I might look into getting worms. Which sounds crazy, but looks promising.

  17. Wat Stearns

    I thought baking soda was too abrasive for direct application — I dissolve, swish ‘n spit before brushing — use HO sparingly — once a month or when needed for oral grodiness — and then mouthwash with boiled myrrh a few times a year — no issues for 5 years with this regimen.

    1. PhilU

      Baking soda isn’t alkali enough to do real damage to your enamel. That said, I wouldn’t recommend keeping a moth full of it for hours at a time either.

  18. Robert Hahl

    I hope that this post does not help persuade another generation of Englishmen that they don’t need to brush their teeth.

  19. Clonal Antibody

    Carrageenans are a group of 10 plus separate gums derived from the irish moss (a red seaweed). There are three main ones that are in commercial trade – iota, kappa and lambda. None of these are inflammatory. However, there are some carrageenans that are inflammatory, and they have a very limited commercial use, being mainly limited to laboratories that do animal testing, and want to induce inflammation in animals. The extract of the irish moss or “carageenan” is not inflammatory, because, the subset of inflammatory carrageenan gums is present in very small quantities in the irish moss, and over 99% of the gums present in the irish moss are not inflammatory, and consist in the main of the three gums (i,k and l)

    Carrageenans get a bad name, because all of these carrageenans are lumped under one CAS number (9000-07-1). Each of the individual carrageenan gums also has a separate CAS number – e.g. iota carrageenan has CAS #9062-07-1, Kappa carrageenan has CAS# 11114-20-8 and lambda carrageenan has CAS# 9064-57-7. However, in practice, these separate CAS#s are not used as far as the FDA is concerned. This is because CAS# 9000-07-1 is in the list of accepted excipients for pharmaceutical use, but the other CAS #s are not. Manufacturers would be more than willing to use the separate CAS #s, however, the FDA makes it very onerous on the manufacturers to get a new excipient on the list. Thus, the i, k and l carrageenans (which are the ones used in toothpaste manufacture, and which cause no inflammation) would have to go through an expensive process to get on to the iig database (list of accepted excipients). No manufacturer wants to take on that extra expenditure for a commodity item.

    Now in practice, a toothpaste manufacturer (a fluoride toothpaste is regulated as a drug, and not a cosmetic) wants to improve the texture of their toothpaste, and uses lambda carrageenan. If the company goes to the FDA and says that “lambda carrageena” is being used, the FDA response would be “lambda carrageenan” is not on the list of “approved” excipients – please take the steps necessary to get this substance approved. This is an expensive proposition for me, the manufacturer. I know that “carrageenan” is on the approved list. So I just substitute “carrageenan” for “lambda carrageenan”, and the objection goes away.

    1. anonymous123

      Thanks for sharing this. The author’s claim that carrageenan = gut inflammation = cancer is also quite dubious. Intestinal permeability (gut inflammation) is linked to all sorts of things, but we don’t know if it’s correlation or causation. And if gut inflammation IS causative of different diseases (including SOME types of cancer, MAYBE), scientists don’t yet know by which mechanisms. In other words the author of this post creates hysteria where there is no conclusive evidence in the scientific literature.

  20. Paul Jurczak

    Artificial dyes may contain up to 10 percent impurities, and some of these undesired ingredients include lead, arsenic, mercury, and carcinogens.

    This is one of many self-inflicted problems. Most consumers are successfully brain washed to chase pretty appearance instead of focusing on fundamentals. Why on Earth do you need a dye in your toothpaste?

    1. PhilU

      You don’t need one. But if you want a dye you will have a hard time finding ones that don’t have metal ions. That and I guarantee you have more metal ions in your centrum multivitamin.

  21. PlutoniumKun

    Apart from the broader point that the US regulatory authorities are hamstrung, I think its overstating it to say there are problems with toothpaste. Mouthwash may be another matter. There is evidence that mouthwash neutralises the good done by certain foods such as beet juice by killing the ‘good’ bacteria that convert nitrates in vegetables to nitrites and nitric acid which seems to be one of the key reasons why some veg are so good for us (I can’t post the link for some reason, but google ‘mouthwash beet nitrite’ to find the Swedish research on it).

    My dentist insists that hot water and salt is as good as mouthwash with none of the potential negative effects.

    1. PhilU

      Salt water if you have an open cut in your mouth. If you want improved cleanliness I would gargle some coconut oil to dissolve anything not soluble in water.

      1. optimader

        Personally , I have a short piece of hose w/ a nozzle connected to the faucet of the utility sink.
        I shoot it full blast in my mouth –industrial capacity water pick.Not much left in there that shouldn’t be after say 30 seconds.

        My dental hygienist is perpetually , well twice a year anyway, in a state of admiration of my lack of plaque and calculus.

        Toothpaste? Why screw around, whatever is cheap at Costco- (Pro tip. just don’t eat it. )And I do love the OralB electric brush.

        Of all the toxins in the background in your environment, or willingly consumed, Im guessin toothpaste , used correctly, is the flyshit in the pepper.

      1. ekstase

        Yes, if we keep eating and drinking whatever they tell us to, soon we’ll all be glowing with freshness.

  22. Steve H.

    42 comments at this point:

    : ‘Fearless commentary on finance, economics, politics and power’ Thank you Torsten at 7:39 for recollecting that.

    : ‘This assumes that the chemistry affects each of us the same. It doesn’t appear to.’ As a toxicologist, thank you cwaltz at 12:57 for recollecting that.

    : I find swishing my mouth with coconut oil to be very soothing for my entire mouth. It pulls lipophilic residues without needing to use soap, for one thing, and you can look up ‘oil pulling’ for the arguments. Works for me, that’s all I’m saying.

  23. wombat

    I thought I was on NC not BuzzFeed…. “Is Toothpaste Dangerous to Your Health?” …. What’s next “Top Ten Things you Miss from the 90s”?. I doubt the disadvantaged middle /lower class cares about the carrageenan in their toothpaste, Trends continue and we are all likely to start using baking soda and peroxide just to save a few pennies.

    1. optimader

      +
      I have at least 10 lbs of my lifetime supply of toothpaste left that I store down in the bombshelter sitting on top of my pallet of bullets .

      Now I have to worry about the toothpaste AND whether the 400 slightly bulging cans of Pork & Beans are going to be a problem? Man..here I thought my gut problem was the beans! Maybe it’s the toothpaste??
      Maybe I can just feed it all to the cat?

      Will a cat eat toothpaste in a pinch?

  24. kareninca

    Years ago, my teeth started to hurt when I brushed. So I used Sensodyne, and avoided regular toothbrushes (using an electric one instead). That helped the pain a little, but not much. My brushing was so tentative that I sustained bone loss. In desperation, I bought a random “natural” toothpaste (xyliwhite by NOW, although it turns out plenty of other “natural” ones would have worked). All of the pain went away instantly; I could suddenly brush vigorously using a regular brush.

    It turns out that many toothpastes contain a foaming agent that causes pain in a certain percentage of the population. My toothpaste was causing me the pain that I was using it to try to treat. Now I have to deal with the results of years of lousy (due to painful) brushings.

    I discovered early on that if I use sunblock that contains oxybenzone or similar ingredients, I almost instantly feel nauseated. It crosses the skin and enters the bloodstream. I can only use mineral sunblock.

    The thing is, I am not in general hypersensitive. So if these ingredients are making me feel sick, they must be really bad for a lot of people.

    So, my grooming/beauty items consist of xyliwhite, a remineralizing paste, Alberto V05, natural bar soap, natural lipstick and mineral sunblock. I can’t say the aesthetic results are stellar, but my teeth don’t hurt and I don’t feel like puking.

  25. sd

    Interesting discussion. The biggest issue as I see it is lack of regulation and opposition to labeling laws. If GMO is benign, why the opposition to labeling regulations? And if all of the additives in personal care products are also benign, why the corporate opposition?

    As long as the industry fights labeling and regulation, there’s absolutely no reason to trust the contents of personal care products manufactured by those same multi national companies.

    And the companies have no one to blame for that lack of trust than themselves.

    1. Portia

      I think partly that the labelling flap is the arrogant belief that they are on a par with Nature, and it’s all the same. How dare the hoi polloi question the Religion of Science in its infinite wisdom? Hmmmm?

    2. Plenue

      With GMOs it’s a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy: activists fearmonger about ‘franken-food’, which causes companies to fight tooth and nail to prevent GMO products from being labeled as GMO, which only further fuels the activists. Just go ahead and put the labels on. Most people don’t care and will just keep buying whatever is on sale, and the worshipers at the cult of ‘All Natural’ were never going to buy a GMO product anyway.

      1. Portia

        so, “worshippers at the cult of ‘All Natural’ ” made it through the censor, and “Science of Religion” did not? LOL!

  26. Jacob

    No one has ever produced scientifically valid evidence from large-scale studies proving that the fluoride used in toothpaste and water supplies actually prevents dental caries. If it were true, far fewer dentists would be needed, but dentistry is a booming business. Fluoride proponents rely on statements and endorsements from researchers and other people who have authoritative titles, such as DDS, M.D. or Ph.D.

    1. Banana Breakfast

      Yes they have. This has been demonstrated literally dozens of times, a five second glance at wikipedia will get you multiple links to lit reviews that will themselves bury you under a wave of primary source documentation. Dentistry is a “booming business” (I can’t find any evidence that dentistry is actually “booming” but it’s not dying out either) not because of increased incidence of caries, but because of cosmetic and surgical dentistry. Incidence of dental caries has steadily decreased across the world for decades, including in the last decade in industrialized countries like the US (where I assume you mean to imply that dentistry is “booming”). Meanwhile the sole robustly established risk factor in fluoride supplementation is dental fluorosis – a minor cosmetic concern except in cases where water supplies are contaminated by large amounts of naturally occurring fluoride or fluoride introduced at high levels by illegal or poorly regulated industrial waste disposal.

      1. Jacob

        As of today’s date, the current Wikipedia article about fluoride cites two sources, 18 and 19, for “evidence” that fluoride prevents dental caries. Here is the introductory sentence in citation #18 from the Journal of Dental Research: “To date, no systematic reviews have found fluoride to be effective in preventing dental caries in adults.” The authors purport that their recent studies do suggest that fluoride prevents dental caries in adults of all ages. The citation for #19 simply states as an implied fact that fluoride prevents dental caries. Keep in mind that fluoride has been added to public water supplies and toothpaste for many decades, yet the introductory sentence in the JDR article is correct in that there is no scientifically valid evidence to prove that fluoride in any form prevents dental caries. These articles are typical pro-fluoride articles that provide no actual proof that fluoride prevents dental caries.

  27. Lord Koos

    As long as we are discussing dental health, does anyone use the Sonicare electric toothbrush? I’ve used one for the past 15 years or so with great results. It cleans the mouth via ultrasound. I had used ultrasonic cleaners before so I understood the technology & thought it was a stroke of genius apply ultrasound to oral care. It was recommended to me by a dentist that I really trust & after I had been using it for a year she told me that I had “textbook healthy gums”. It’s a technology that really works for good. Yeah they are pricey, but way cheaper than seeing the dentist more often.

  28. redleg

    As a water supply professional, I find scents and perfumes in personal care products to pose an exponentially greater risk than toothpaste. And the risk posed by scents and perfumes is to the environmental system as a whole, not just to people.
    Priorities are a thing, and this issue should not be near the top of the list.

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