Consumer product use in women of color
Studies show women of color face higher exposures to toxic chemicals relative to White women, regardless of socioeconomic status. Black women and children also have increased rates of hormone-mediated health conditions. For example, in the United States, Black women have higher rates of diabetes, experience earlier menarche, more prevalent fibroids, and more aggressive forms of breast and endometrial cancers.
Many personal care and household products contain endocrine disrupting chemicals that act like or interfere with hormones in the body and can affect the developing reproductive and nervous systems, metabolism, and cancer. Research also shows that endocrine disruptors likely contribute to health problems that exacerbate the effects of COVID-19.
Based on preliminary data and community knowledge, women of color tend to use different products than other groups, which may explain their higher chemical body burdens. These higher exposures also add to the cumulative burden faced by an already vulnerable population and underscore the importance of reducing exposures to harmful chemicals that increase health risks.
To better understand these disparities, we are engaged in two research projects:
The POWER Study:
Working in partnership with the Resilient Sisterhood Project, we are investigating patterns in the use of personal care and household cleaning products among Black women in Massachusetts through a series of virtual workshops. Findings from the POWER Study will be shared through social media, along with research-based strategies for reducing exposures and story highlights from project participants. The ultimate goal is to empower Black women to reduce their exposures to harmful ingredients in products that affect their health and contribute to health disparities.
In this community-driven pilot study, we are examining racial/ethnic differences in the use of personal care and cleaning products among 600 premenopausal women in California; characterizing perceptions, accessibility, and use of personal care and cleaning products among Black and Latina women in South Los Angeles; and assessing the chemical content and estrogenic activity of selected consumer products used by Black and Latina women. Study collaborators include Occidental College, Black Women for Wellness, George Washington University, University of California, Los Angeles, and LA Grit Media. Visit the Taking Stock website for more information.
News & Updates
Findings could explain why women of color in particular are more highly exposed to harmful chemicals
First study to measure range of hormone disrupting chemicals in products used by Black women.