The scent of success

Trying to avoid the health hazards of drugstore deodorants but having trouble finding a natural stick that masks your olfactory pollution? Leave the sniff-testing to us.


SECRET NATURAL MINERAL/ GILLETTE DEODORANT

You’d think from the “natural mineral” label and the fact that Gillette is marketed as a “deodorant,” not an “antiperspirant,” that both P&G products would be free of controversial sweat-gland-blocking aluminum. Alas, when you flip ’em over, you find both include forms of aluminum embedded in cyclopentasiloxane, a foe of fish and an eco toxin common to so many deos.

$5/45 grams

Score: N

ADIDAS 0% ALUMINUM

While these guys may be free of aluminum, they’ve replaced it with something even worse, triclosan – an ingredient that Environment Canada is in the middle of officially labeling “toxic” and is voluntarily asking companies to remove. Lots of other mainstream deodorants like Soft & Dri and Right Guard have switched to triclosan’s slightly less evil cousin, triclocarban.

Score: N

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TOM’S ANTIPERSPIRANT

Tom’s “Long Lasting” natural deodorant has failed many an armpit, so maybe it’s no surprise that the company added an antiperspirant version after Colgate bought it. The product is laced with the same aluminum you’ll find in other antiperspirants. I guess if you’re dead set on an antiperspirant, this is the safest pick, since it has fewer dodgy fillers. However, it’s heavy in ecologically destructive palm oil.

$8/64 grams

Score: NN

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LAVILIN BIO

The original Lavilin used to promise an end to odours for up to 7 days and always creeped me out. But when they came out with their “bio” underarm/foot version promising 24 and then later 72 hours of protection I decided to give it a try. The label said to give it several days before expecting it to work. Well, I made it day 4 of use and could not bear to subject the guests at my friend’s wedding to the horrors this stuff was triggering under my arms so I put an end to the Lavilin experiment.

Score: NN

ARM & HAMMER ADVANCE

If you’re still using A&H’s Natural Essentials, beware, it gets its stink-fighting power from official enviro toxin, endocrine-disrupting triclosan. South of the border, a class action lawsuit was actually launched against the company in 2012 for misleading natural labeling. However, in Canada, the product has been phased out. It’s been replaced with Arm & Hammer Advance, and while it contains petrochemicals and artificial fragrance, it does actually rely on baking soda (go figure) to get the job done. Haven’t tested it myself to see if it works because it’s still too synthy.

Score: NN

CRAWFORD STREET

I wanted to love this Toronto-made deodorant cream since many people swear by it, but it reached its limits during last summer’s never-ending heat wave. I officially gave it the boot after I stunk up a beach party at Sugar Beach. Was NOT going to wave my hands in the air like I just didn’t care, that’s fo’ sho.’ But since it’s got a lot of fans, I’m giving it 3 N status.

Score: NNN

DR. MIST

This award-winning calcium/salt/magnesium spray is a top seller in Canadian health stores. No scent. No icky residue. I was once in true love with the roll-on (now discontinued), but the spray version still has legions of fans. Used to give this spray 4Ns, but it just isn’t cutting it for me any more. Made in Malaysia. Available at health stores and Rexall.

$7.50/50ml

Score: NNN

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PENNY LANE

So natural you could eat it. And like homemade deos with similar ingredients, it works miraculously, even on nervous sweat. It will also cover existing BO if you forgot to apply it earlier. I’d give it a perfect score, but the stick can be crumbly, and if you’re wearing a dark tank, you’ll have to rub it in. The company also sells DIY deo supplies. Ontario-made, and the best value. Mostly online: pennylaneorganics.com.

$9/120 grams

Score: NNNN

SOAPWALLA

This was my go to deo after I gave Crawford the boot. An American indy deodorant cream loved by a growing lot. I put it to the test last super hot summer. It got me to the end of the day without creating weird odours. At worst, after a sweaty day of cycling in 35 degree heat I sort of smelled like dirt, but nothing offensive. I still think Coloplast Hex-On Odour antagonist and PurelyGreat are better at keeping you smelling benign to be quite honest. Purely Great uses more essential oils to help things along.

Score: NNNN

PLAIN BAKING SODA

Seriously. Just put some in your palm and dust under your arms after your shower. At the end of many hot summer days, like Soapwalla, at worst I smelt a little like dirt, but not BO – yay! And it’s dirt cheap. This works even better when mixed with corn starch and/or arrowroot powder and coconut oil (recipes at ecoholic.ca)

Score: NNNN

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PURELY GREAT CREAM DEODORANT

This locally made gem has won male and female friends who’ve tested it in sweaty practices and hot gym classes. Other cream deos (Soapwalla, Crawford Street) are lovely but lose points in high heat. The cilantro oil in Purely Great works like a charm. Super-natural. At Big Carrot, Grassroots, Ecotique or online at purelygreat.com.

$12.99/45grams

Score: NNNNN


Greenwash Of The Week

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HARPER’S GREEN ACTION ADS

Spotted the feds’ latest taxpayer-funded campaign ads, otherwise known as the Economic Action Plan? The government of Canada has been blasting mainstream stations with promos for its fabulous green record, including the upping of fines for eco violators. Should distract nicely from last week’s Wall Street Journal piece on Canadian regulators waiving oil sands enforcement penalties, or last month’s budget cuts gutting Environment Canada’s enforcement team.


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Pregnant pause

UK Docs WARN moms-to-be off householD Chemicals

The UK’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists sent shock waves across a traditionally conservative field last month when it issued a new guidance warning to pregnant women to put “safety first” and avoid a slew of household and personal care chemicals.

Staying away from pesticides and canned foods and bevvies were among the many tips – pretty run-of-the-mill advice on green mommy blogs, but convention-shattering in the allopathic community.

The intensity of the backlash has certainly been telling. Britain’s chief medical officer charged that the guidance “fails the common sense test” and would only cause anxiety in moms-to-be, stress that others in the field posited would be more harmful to the fetus than the chemicals themselves.

The Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association chimed in to assure pregnant women that a full safety assessment of every product is undertaken. That’s certainly not the case in North America. Earlier this year, a report by the U.S. Congress-mandated committee on breast cancer and the environment noted that only 7 per cent of all 84,000 registered chemicals have had complete toxicological screenings.

The numbers aren’t much different in Canada. Even in cases where Health Canada has deemed a chemical an official toxin to infants, like BPA (banned from baby bottles) or phthalates (banned from baby toys), neither HC nor the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada has said a word about advising pregnant women to stay away from these known hormone disruptors.

Gideon Forman of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment isn’t surprised. “A lot of dollars are at stake.” He notes thatmany in the field aren’t “trained in the precautionary approach and doesn’t take ecosystem health into consideration.”

For its part, the Canadian Medical Association has said about the impacts of chemicals that “public and health care provider information is sorely lacking. Physicians can play a role in correcting some of these deficiencies through their actions to support research and surveillance, advocacy, leadership, education, and professional development”. But the body hasn’t directed physicians on how to advise pregnant women.

What was the advice of the UK’s Royal College in its report Chemical Exposures During Pregnancy: Dealing With Potential, But Unproven, Risks To Child Health? Here’s a taster:

• Eat fresh food rather than processed foods, and minimize canned foods/bevvies.

• Minimize use of personal care products such as cosmetics and fragrances, as well as painkillers.

• Minimize the purchase of new furniture, fabrics, non-stick frying pans and cars.

• Avoid garden/household/pet pesticides or fungicides and paint fumes, and don’t assume a product is safe just because it’s branded “natural” or “herbal.”

Keep in mind that this was all cautiously couched: “It is unlikely that any of these exposures are truly harmful for most babies, but in view of current uncertainty about risks, these steps will reduce environmental chemical exposures.”

If only our regulators would give the precautionary approach a try.


Nature Notes

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ALBERTA PIPELINE OOZES TOXIC WASTE

How many oil spills does it take to stop a pipeline? Sounds like the start of a bad joke. But as northern Alberta deals with the ecosystem-smothering 95-million-litre spill of toxic oil-extraction waste water near Zama City reported last week, enviros are wondering how many more of these can happen before North Americans turn against Keystone the way BCers have against Northern Gateway. And this was no ancient stretch of pipe the Apache Corp-owned line, carrying waste from an oil and gas operation, was only five years old. The Dene First Nations have reported widespread damage to forests and vegetation that suggest the huge leak of salty waste water allegedly laced with hydrocarbons and chemical solvents, may have started months before it was reported in early June. Records from Alberta’s Energy Resources Conservation Board show the province has quietly logged a total of over 28,000 oil spills and nearly 31,500 of other stuff over the past 37 years.

TORONTO’S ANTI-POLLUTION TOOL KIT

The Toronto Cancer Prevention Coalition (TCPC) has just released its Toronto Toxic Reduction Tool Kit to help us track cancer-causing chems in our ‘hoods. Using the city’s new ChemTrac program for mapping neighbourhood pollutants as a base, the kit gives user-friendly tips on auditing your workplace (including a journal that can be shared with your doctor), influencing local companies to slash their chemical footprint and getting the Toxic 25 substances out of your home – all in hopes of reducing cancer rates over time. toronto.ca.

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