Students Issue Consumer Alert


By Ruth Jacobs
Photography by Gail Carlson

consumer alert
Students mail personal care products to a lab to obtain ingredient information, raise awareness, and lobby for legislation.

Baby shampoo laced with formaldehyde? Lipstick containing lead? These are just two examples brought forth by Colby students who are pushing lawmakers to create legislation regulating chemicals in personal care products.

Many everyday products, from nail polish to sunscreen, contain chemicals that build up in the human body and have been linked to things like cancer and infertility, say Michelle Russell ’11, Blair Braverman ’11, and Sarah Hart ’10. The United States, they say, lags behind other countries and the European Union when it comes to restricting use of certain chemicals.

This spring, along with the Maine Women’s Policy Center, local high school students, and other college students, the trio aimed to raise awareness through staging press events, testifying at public hearings, and creating a website. Their efforts resulted in public radio, television, and newspaper exposure.

In a Morning Sentinel oped, Braverman wrote: “I am 21 years old, and I hope to have children someday. I should not have to worry that ingredients in my shampoo will put me at risk for infertility, or that my sunscreen is linked to increased rates of birth defects. But I, like all Americans, am an involuntary lab rat in chemical experiments that put our health and our future at risk. … Our health, and the health of our families, is the most important thing we have. It needs to be protected.” —R.J.

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