Berlin: Nearly a third of cosmetic products in Germany, Austria and Switzerland contain endocrine disrupting substances. This is the conclusion of a study published today by Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND), the German section of Friends of the Earth. For the study, BUND searched the ingredients lists of more than 60,000 products for hormone mimicking chemicals: “The figures for the market leaders Beiersdorf (Nivea) and L’Oréal are especially alarming. Almost 50% of these companies’ products that were analysed contain endocrine disruptors” says Sarah Häuser, BUND chemicals expert.

Endocrine disrupting chemicals were found in every product category: From shower gel, to sunscreen, lipstick, shaving foam, hair tinting lotion and deodorant. Most common are Parabens as preservatives and certain UV-filters. These agents can pass through the skin. A Swiss study showed that over 75 per cent of the women investigated had UV-filters in their breast milk.

The substances are being linked to the decrease of sperm quality as well as to breast, prostate, and testicular cancer. Especially fetuses, young children and teenagers are at risk, as the hormone system plays a key role in critical development stages.

Natural cosmetics were generally free of endocrine disruptors, which shows that it is possible to produce clean products: “Cosmetics are meant to make us pretty and not ill”, says Sarah Häuser, “When it comes to our health and especially the health of our children we should not take risks. BUND therefore calls on the producers to ban endocrine disruptors from their products.”

Because it is complicated for consumers to identify dangerous substances in the long ingredient lists, BUND now offers a free iPhone App. Jurek Vengels, BUND chemicals expert said: “Our ToxFox App enables consumers to scan the barcode of the products right away in the store and get immediate information if the cosmetic at hand contains endocrine disruptors. This makes it so much easier to choose “clean cosmetics”. What is more, you can also send a protest email to producers. We hope that market pressure will lead companies to review their position on endocrine disruptors.”

Along with the iPhone app, BUND has also released a web-form and a mobile website through which consumers can check cosmetics.

However, to date, the service is only available in German. As the system identifies products through their barcode, which can be different from country to country. It might not work very well outside Germany, Austria or Switzerland.

The study, the app and the web-form are all available at www.bund.net/toxfox