Retired teacher warns of toxic chemicals in household products

Popular baby products used by millions of parents around the world rubbed Cherry Staszczak the wrong way.

The retired high school English teacher and author of There’s What In My What??? from Wynyard, Sask., couldn’t understand why her grandson developed eczema soon after he was born in 2006.

She said her daughter had been applying Johnson and Johnson products daily but didn’t make the connection.

“We had been using (the Johnson & Johnson) products because that’s what you do. And we kept using those products,” she said.

Staszczak later learned Johnson and Johnson used formaldehyde in its products and was in a two-year process of removing it.

“I started to read and I read more and just read, read, read as much as I could find,” Staszczak said.

“You never see that word (formaldehyde) anywhere. That was a big shock to me. How could that be allowed?”

Manufacturers were able to use a legal loophole in product guidelines to use toxic chemicals in their brands, she said. Their fragrances were considered proprietary so disclosure of ingredients was not required.

Her grandson’s eczema eased after being prescribed a cream by his family doctor, she said.

Staszczak decided the best way to warn and inform consumers was by writing the book, which was recently published by Benchmark Press in Regina.

“I’m telling my story about how it affected me and my family,” she said.

Staszczak, who has taken her message to schools and trade shows, called the book a wake-up call about commonly used products.

In the book, she also lists many of the chemicals often used by manufacturers of skin products and beauty aids. In addition, she lists manufacturers who don’t use chemicals in their products.

“Women typically use 12 different products every day and they contain 168 different chemicals. Think about that,” says Staszczak.

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