chemicals

Chemical Ingredients: A Primer For Reading A Product Label

Chemists and product manufacturers rely on technical standards to label products. These labels ensure consumers know the consistency and quality of purchased products.

Unfortunately, labels may not be straightforward and comprehendible. Instead of saying “baking soda,” the label may say “sodium bicarbonate.” How many of us know they’re one and the same? This though is how companies meet chemical labeling compliance while befuddling the consumer with industry-specific jargon.

Let’s look at some products, the benefits each product provides and their chemical compounds.

Skin Care Products

  • Preservatives extend shelf life, prevent the growth of toxic bacteria and minimize contamination.
  • Parabens include butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, methylparaben, isopropylparaben and propylparaben. Parabens minimize growth of bacteria, fungi and yeast and are used in shaving cream and makeup.
  • Titanium dioxide increases product opaqueness. The element’s mined from the earth for processing and purification. It’s capable of absorbing, scattering and reflecting light, perfect for products like sunscreen.
  • Propylene and polypropylene glycols are used in moisturizers, lotions and creams. They keep skin hydrated, enhancing skin appearance through flake reduction and support of suppleness.

Toothpaste

  • Sodium fluoride helps prevent cavities.
  • Sodium bicarbonate is simple baking soda. It helps polish teeth.
  • Silicates, dehydrated silica gels, calcium carbonate, magnesium carbonate, phosphate salts and hydrated aluminum oxides are compounds that remove debris and surface stains from teeth.
  • Sorbitol is extracted from corn, fruits and seaweed. Sorbitol gives toothpaste a pleasant taste.

Soap

  • Triclocarban is an antimicrobial product that helps to reduce harmful skin bacteria. It also lessens germ transmission.
  • Surfactants are a soap compound that helps with the removal of dirt and oil from skin and hair.
  • Ammonium laureth sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate create that soapy lather we love in our soaps, bubble baths and shampoos.

Compliance

Whenever a company is believed to not be in compliance with chemical labeling (or if there isn’t sufficient documentation to support the package labeling), their products are removed from retail shelves and they find themselves under investigation. This is not a situation a business owner wants.

This is a costly legal process. For smaller companies, this can put a stop to production completely. They can suddenly find themselves unable to meet debt obligations because revenue stops coming in. Even larger companies who can afford the hit will feel a crunch. Worse, when this happens, the company’s credibility with consumers takes a deep fall.

So, besides all-important public safety, this is why it’s critical appropriate chemical labeling compliance is always adhered to.

Get Info on Product Labels

Chemical label revisions are part of the Hazard Communication Standard venue. Under the guidelines, labels need to have a signal word, pictograms, product identifiers, hazard and precautionary indicators and supplier identification. If you have any questions about chemicals and your products, these resources can get you answers.

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have the information you need about labeling and ingredients.
  • Cosmeticsinfo.org provides detailed info on personal care product ingredients.
  • Get specifics on chemical ingredients at ChemicalSafetyFacts.org.

Chemical label revisions are part of the Hazard Communication Standard venue. Under the guidelines, labels need to have a signal word, pictograms, product identifiers, hazard and precautionary indicators and supplier identification. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration governs hazardous chemical labeling for those that work with chemicals as an occupation or in industrial settings.

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