top of page

The Dirty Dozen's

By most, the term "Dirty Dozen," refers to the top twelve produce products that one should almost explicitly buy, "organically" so they are not grown with harmful pesticides and herbicides. The Produce Dirty Dozen is a list of the 12 most chemically infused conventional produce items that is compiled every year. This list lets consumers know about the 12 fruits and vegetables that have shown to possess the highest amount of pesticides and herbicides. Some of the most common pesticides and herbicides that are used in the United States are glyphosate, atrazine, metolachor-S, dichloroprepene, and 2,4-D. All either kill weeds and grasses, or treat the soil prior to planting. The chemicals in these pesticides are then harmful to humans because what was once sprayed in the fields and on these conventional crops coats the food even when it is sitting on the shelves in grocery stores and markets. While washing produce off with cold water or soaking them in a fruit and veggie soak is a good habit to get in, no method of washing will get 100% of the pesticides off. Glyphosate, the common and most harmful ingredient in the pesticide Round-Up, is one pesticide that cannot be washed off or removed with cooking.

In efforts to warn the public and to keep the harmful chemicals away from consumption, organizations use the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Pesticide Data to relay information to the public. The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit organization that specializes in research and advocacy in agricultural subsidies, toxic chemicals, drinking water pollutants, and corporate accountability, is one list that I commonly refer to when checking to see the levels of chemicals that are utilized by well-known businesses and product each year. Based on the data that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Pesticide compiles, the EWG assembles a list of Dirty Dozen, and a Clean Fifteen list based on the toxic chemicals they find, or do not find, in conventional produce every year. The lists refers to commonly consumed conventional grocery store fruits and vegetables. While not every fruit and vegetable makes the list, that's not to say there aren't toxic and harmful chemicals being sprayed on all fruits and veggies. The twelve most "dirty," are just that, the most dirty and harmful to your body when conventionally, or non-organically consumed. These are the produce found with the most amount of chemicals still present, or at times, produce that has most absorbed the chemicals. Likewise, it is best to buy everything that you are eating entirely, without the rind or peel, fully organic.

Below, is the EWG's 2020 Dirty Dozen:

  1. Strawberries

  2. Spinach

  3. Kale

  4. Nectarines

  5. Apples

  6. Grapes

  7. Peaches

  8. Pears

  9. Cherries

  10. Tomatoes

  11. Celery

  12. Potatoes

Although the Dirty Dozen list changes, that's not to say they stop growing the produce that doesn't make it on the next years list without chemicals. There are simply others grown with more. Please recognize that the EWG's list is just one of many that are compiled. While I use this one, there are plenty others that are reputable and test for chemicals in and on produce in reliable ways! For more information about the EWG's list, or to see the produce that follow the first twelve, visit their site: .

While the Dirty Dozen produce list is one you hear more about, the Cosmetic Dirty Dozen could potentially be more harmful for certain individuals. I remember the first time I learned why non-toxic Cosmetics are so important; our skin absorbs anywhere between 60-80% of the things we put on it. Meaning, each and every ingredients in shampoos, conditioners, soaps, lotions, sunscreens, and make-up, are something that your skin could be and probably is absorbing. When do we typically use these cosmetic products? In or following the shower, after we have just stood under, often, scalding hot water that has opened up each of the pores on our skin.

Using cosmetics solely based on their smell or consistency can be very harmful if disregarding the possibly carcinogenic ingredients that our skin might absorb. The FDA, or Food and Drug Administration has no regulation over cosmetic products, which allows the beauty and cosmetic industry to load their products up completely unregulated. In fact, there are over 3,000 ingredients that are banned in cosmetic products in Europe that we use in the United States. Why do companies put known toxic chemicals in their products? Synthetics, parabens, fillers, and other chemicals increase the shelf-life, improve consistency, color, and can improve the smell of popular cosmetic products that we have been so conditioned to know of as "normal." Cosmetic companies rely on the public being misinformed and ignoring the fact that they might cause cancer to simply increase the shelf life. Why? It is a 49.2 billion dollar industry that many downstream are benefiting from. Unfortunate for the consumers who are unaware, it is likely causing many states of dis-ease in our bodies and minds.

Below you'll find the 2019 list of the Cosmetic Dirty Dozen! These are ingredients that you will find in common household cosmetics, that you should steer clear of to avoid their negative effects:

1. BHA

BHA, or Butylated Hydroxyanisole (sometimes Hydroxytoluen) is often found in lipsticks and moisturizers, and has been labeled as a possible carcinogen. Long term use has been linked to liver, thyroid, and kidney malfunction.

2. Coal Tar Dyes

In ingredient labels, these are labeled as P-phenylenediamine, a coal tar dye found in hair dyes, or CI - followed by a number, which signifies its color of pigment. Coal tar dyes are derived from petroleum and are recognized as human carcinogens linked to brain damage.

3. DEA

DEA, or Diethanolamine, is often in cosmetic products that are creamy, sudsy or foamy: facial cleaners, shampoos, body washes and several moisturizers. DEA can cause skin and eye irritation, and sustained exposure is linked to liver, skin and thyroid cancers and malfunctions.

4. DBP

DBP, or Dibutyl Phthalate, is a plasticizer used to prevent nail polish from becoming brittle. Consistent use of DBP is directly linked to hormone, liver and kidney disruption as well as reproductive defects.

5. Formaldehyde releasing Preservatives

Formaldehyde releasing preservatives that are used in cosmetics are labeled as DMDM hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Methenamine, Quaternium- 15, and Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate. These preservatives are specifically used to increase the shelf life of cosmetics and are known to continuously release small amounts of formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen.

6. Parabens

Parabens are a very commonly used preservative in cosmetics (an estimated 75-90% of cosmetics contain parabens) that are linked to hormonal disruptions, breast cancer, and increased skin aging.

7. Parfum

Parfum, or fragrance, is what cosmetic companies use to label as many as 3,000 different ingredients that enhance the scent. These enhancing substances are linked to asthma, allergies and an array of cancers.

8. PEG, and PPG Compounds

PEG compounds are found in cream-based cosmetics and used as thickeners. They can be manufactured with ethylene oxide and 1,4 - dioxane, and show large amounts of skin irritation.

9. Petrolatum

Petroleum jellies are used in hair products to add shine and in balms, lip sticks, and moisturizers as a moisture. Petrolatum's are often manufactured with PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) which are a known carcinogen.

10. Siloxanes

Siloxanes, or compounds that end in "siloxane" or "methicone," have been linked to impair fertility and cause hormonal disruptions, and are found in hair and deodorant products.

11. SLS or Sodium Laureth Sulfate

Sodium Laureth Sulfate is found in cleaners, shampoos and washes, and can also be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4 dioxane, which are known carcinogens.

12. Triclosan

Triclosan is an ingredient that is found in antibacterial cosmetics like deodorants, cleansers, and hand sanitizers. With short term use, triclosan can cause skin and eye irritation, and with long term use antibiotic resistance and hormonal disruptions.

While the above 12 are, again, not the only chemicals that might be harmful to our health in the cosmetic world, they are a few to stay away from when purchasing them for yourself and for family and friends. It is rather unrealistic to think that you might never come in contact with any of these ingredients, so paying attention to your skins reactions to certain cosmetic brands is also key to buying and using cosmetics!

Instead of being proactive about our health and choosing what we know is right and beneficial for our minds and bodies, we often take the easy way out, and go with the more immediate and direct benefit and / or result. As a result, individuals (generally) deal with their health once their conditions and states of dis-ease have already started and significantly progressed. In choosing what we know is good for our minds and bodies, also what we know will give us health, happiness and indirect benefit later on, we can be proactive about our health and, hopefully, never have to reach any state of dis-ease in the first place!

93 views0 comments
bottom of page