Chemicals in Products (CiPs)

Chemicals make our modern life possible. They are the answer to the various requirements of our society. Only through the invention of certain chemical syntheses, the production of many different goods has been achieved. Thus, we take many things for granted such as toothpaste, mobile phones, solar cells or energy-saving light bulbs, which would not be possible without the use of chemicals.

For instance, chlorine is used to disinfect drinking water. Fertilizers containing phosphate enhance crop yields, therefore contributing to food security. Plastics are an essential part of many consumable goods. Without the on-going improvement of their syntheses, the production of pharmaceuticals would be distinctly less efficient or not even possible. In the textile industry, many chemicals are used for staining clothes or to enhance their function. On the contrary, some of these chemicals pose potential threats to human health and the environment. Since the list of Chemicals in Products (CiPs) is diverse and difficult to oversee, only some examples are given here:

  • Children's toys often contain phthalates which make vinyl more transparent, more flexible and thus more durable;
  • Some household or cleaning products contain chemicals like alkylophenols, dyes and tetrachloroethylene. Most of the chemicals imposing negative health impacts can be categorized into neurotoxins, endocrine disruptors and carcinogens;
  • Cosmetic and hygienic products such as toothpaste, shampoo, perfume and nail polish can also contain a variety of chemicals. Triclosan, SLS, DEA and Acetone are only some examples;
  • Textiles may contain mutagenic substances such as aminoazo dyes. Due to their intercalating attributes, they also react with DNA and are therefore carcinogenic. Within outdoor clothing, nanomaterials can be found quite often. Their useful characteristics are very diverse like being antimicrobial, anticorrosive, possessing good thermal conductivity, and/or providing insulation. Currently, there may not be any known risks to human health with these materials, but environmental risks can be expected as the use of these materials increase;
  • Another risk to human health may be caused by materials which are used for household construction: In some countries, paints still contain lead. Asbestos is a well-known hazardous substance, but the appropriate disposal of materials containing asbestos is still a challenge in many countries.

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