Personal Care products and cosmetics impact on environment

Personal care and cosmetics

Personal care products and cosmetics are widely used throughout the world in huge amounts. It results in the continuous invisible release of personal hygiene and cosmetics products or ingredients into the environment.

 Altogether these impact on the life of living beings as these are bioactive, highly persistent in the environment, and can also bioaccumulate. Personal care and cosmetics include any product which is applied on the external part of the body such as skin, nails, hair, lips, and external genital organs, or oral hygiene such as teeth and mucous membrane of the oral cavity, in order to make them clean, protect from germs, prevent bad odour, change in appearance, and keep in good condition.

Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, personal care and cosmetic products can be consumed only for external usage. Therefore, they are more likely to enter into the environment in large quantities due to human activities, for example, during bathing or washing and give more trouble to the ecological systems. Soaps, hair dyes, nail paints, fragrances, emulsifiers, ultraviolet absorbers, acrylates, preservatives, and antioxidants are the common examples of daily use personal care and cosmetic products. Some of these are hazardous for health and heavy exposure of such chemical cosmetics can cause cancer, endocrine disruption, mutation, allergy, and reproductive toxicity.Personal care products generally belong to hygienic practices and rinse off immediately after use, such as shampoos, soaps, toothpastes, and shower gels. However, a few personal care products are leave-on products such as sanitizers, sunscreen lotion, etc. Cosmetics are generally leave-on products, staying on the skin for at least a few hours, for example, body and face creams, insect repellent, cosmetics, perfumes, and antiperspirants. On removing the cosmetic products and washing or showering, these products enter the sewage treatment plants which are not efficient in removing all the chemicals of personal care and cosmetic ingredients. Therefore, these chemicals get accumulated with sewage sludge which is further used as fertilisers on crops and provides a pathway for the entry of these chemicals into the food chain. Organic compounds (bisphenol-A, p-chloro-m-xylenol, triclosan, grease, fat, and surfactants) are the most common examples of personal care and cosmetic pollutants, which not only deteriorate the aquatic environment but also affect the vegetation and human health equally.

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