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Empowering Black Women to Reduce Exposure to Toxic Chemicals in Personal Care and Cleaning Products

Project Details

Year: 2020
Location: Statewide
Project Manager: Robin Dodson, Silent Spring Institute
Partners: Resilient Sisterhood Project


Black women are disproportionately exposed to many hormone-active consumer product chemicals, including phthalates and parabens. Black women often suffer more from hormone-mediated health issues such as uterine fibroids, preterm birth, and more aggressive forms of breast and endometrial cancers.  Our main goal is to identify and reduce chemical exposures that may contribute to hormone disruption, asthma, diabetes, and cancer risk among Black women, diseases that are co-morbid for COVID-19.


To learn more about consumer product use patterns among Black women living in Massachusetts, the project team held five small, discussion-based virtual workshops with a total of 25 women focused on why and where women purchase certain beauty products. Women were then asked to use a smartphone app to log their personal care product use over several days. The app data includes specific information about which products women are using, listed ingredients, and where products were purchased. The project team held two follow-up virtual workshops to share summaries of the discussions and app use, and to discuss feasibility of recommendations to reduce exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals in products. 

In this community-engaged project, information gathered will be used for developing future exposure studies, intervention studies, educational outreach and consumer campaigns. For example, the team heard about the role of social media and social media influencers in learning about personal care products, suggesting avenues for sharing educational outreach. Women wanted to know more about the ingredients in their products and about the importance of representation in the brands marketed to Black women. They learned about commonly used products and the ingredients of health concern associated with those products. This project also sustained a collaboration between two nonprofit organizations focused on women’s health - Resilient Sisterhood Project and Silent Spring Institute.

This page updated Monday November 22 2021