In creating consumer products composed of mixtures of chemicals -- baby lotion, shampoo, cleaners, laundry soap -- chemists seek ingredients that are effective and feasible, but don't consider the hazardous properties of these chemicals and the risks they pose to the people who use them.
How does this happen? Because most chemists are not trained in toxicology. It's also because many biological interactions that occur when we use or combine these products are only now being understood. As consumers become more aware, groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have called for the removal of some of the more concerning chemical ingredients from store shelves.
But it's not as simple as just removing the chemical from the recipe. While in some instances the substance can be eliminated, in many cases these potentially hazardous chemicals perform a key function in the product and if removed, it has to be replaced, and thoughtfully replaced with a safer alternative.
The good news is that identifying and making informed choices about these substitutes is becoming easier for consumers...