What to Watch For in Consumer Products, Is a Cheaper Price Worth the Health Risks?

shopping cart in grocery store

By Emily Rosati.

It’s fair to assume that plenty of consumers can think of a few times when they shopped at a dollar store out of convenience. After all, many common brands can be found there, and products are sold at the lowest prices on the market, so what is there to lose? While you may be saving your time and money, research has shown that you may be compromising your health to save a few dollars. After testing 164 products, a recent report by Campaign for Healthier Solutions found that 81 percent were found to be contaminated with toxic ingredients, including some human carcinogens.

Here are a few products to avoid when shopping at discount stores in the future:

Talc-Based Products

Consumers value talc-based products for a number of reasons, with skincare at the top of the list. Although you may love the idea of a cheap beauty routine, common products including baby powder and Shower to Shower contain talc, an ingredient that has faced significant backlash worldwide. This is due to thousands of women coming forward with cases of both ovarian cancer and malignant mesothelioma, which are conditions suggested to be linked to long-term exposure to talc.

The fact that talc was often mined in close proximity to asbestos, a human carcinogen that is solely responsible for mesothelioma, lies at the center of this issue. As a result, talc-containing products including cosmetics, crayola crayons, and even kids’ toys with trace amounts of asbestos have been recalled from retail shelves around the globe.

In addition to this shocking discovery, experts are also in the midst of debating whether pure talc can cause ovarian cancer upon extended use. While there is far more research to be done, consumers are encouraged to remain cautious, and heed warning labels that specifically advise that talcum powder may cause cancer.

Plastic Food Containers

If you’re looking for a quick way to organize your kitchen, you may want to think again before purchasing knock-off Tupperware. Bisphenol A (BPA), a primary component of plastic with more than 2.3 billion pounds manufactured each year, is a synthetic hormone that mimics estrogens in the human body. Shockingly, BPA has been linked to reproductive issues in female mice and breast cancer cell growth in humans.

While the EPA and FDA seem unconcerned, Healthystuff Research Director Jeff Gearhart stated in an EcoCenter.org article, “We’ve tested 1000’s of products from dozens of retailers over the last ten years. And on average the dollar store products are some of the poorest performing from a chemical hazard perspective. I am particularly concerned about the comparatively high percentage of products containing hazardous plasticizers.” Although experts are debating the health risks, BPA has been found to seep out 55 times quicker once these plastics are exposed to hot liquids, raising health concerns for consumers.

Children Toys

Among the research conducted by The Campaign for Healthier Solutions, one major discovery, from the aforementioned EcoCenter.org piece, was that 32 percent of children’s vinyl products contained heightened levels of phthalates, surpassing the recommended limit. Parents may find this alarming as phthalates are linked to asthma, childhood obesity, fertility issues, cancer, and more. The results also shed light on toxic costume jewelry. According to CBS News, after researchers tested 99 different items from 14 different retailers, 90 percent of the jewelry was found to contain chromium and nickel, 27 items had heightened levels of lead, and 10 percent included cadmium.

The Campaign for Healthier Solutions is not only collaborating with Healthystuff to expose the toxicity behind discount retailers, but also requesting an entire reform surrounding the issue of toxic children’s products. This proposal states that discount retailers must remove children’s products that contain phthalates and lead from stores, and then implement a corporate chemical policy so that all
supply chains will comply.

Your health is worth more than an appealing price tag so if you find yourself roaming the aisles at a dollar store in search of a bargain, know your facts and think twice before purchasing certain products on the shelves.


Emily Rosati is dedicated to researching and educating the public on
the latest issues surrounding consumer health and safety. She hopes to
inspire the public to make conscientious choices about the products they choose to purchase and to protect consumers from toxic exposure in their everyday lives.

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