Evaluation of the general public’s knowledge on ingredients in personal care products
Objectives: The average person living in North America is exposed to hundreds of chemical ingredients, including those that are harmful to human health, through application of personal care products. The manufacture of personal care products is largely untested and unregulated at a government level; legislation is not as prescriptive as the public would expect it to be. This shifts the responsibility to consumers to use their own discretion when purchasing personal care products. The purpose of this research was to assess the knowledge of the Canadian general public regarding ingredients in personal care products to determine if they have enough knowledge to avoid harmful substances. Methods: A knowledge assessment survey was conducted to two different groups in Canada. The first group consisted of the general public who did not have a background in toxicology or dermatology, and the second group consisted of Public Health Inspectors in Lower Mainland B.C. The test scores from the knowledge assessment were compared between the two groups to determine if there was a significant difference in the means. Results: The survey was completed by 39 Public Health Inspectors and 91 members of the general public. The mean score was 3.0256 for the Public Health Inspectors and 1.846 for the general public; the test score was out of 10. Statistical analyses showed that the mean test scores were significantly different and the null hypothesis (Ho: mean test score of the Public Health Inspectors = mean test score of the general public) was rejected at α= 0.05. Conclusion: The result showed that both groups had low level of knowledge regarding the ingredients in personal care products that are widely used in Canada. Even the chemical ingredients that are known or suspected to be dangerous to human health or have adverse effects on the environment were not recognized. Exposure to potentially hazardous chemicals can be prevented or reduced by setting a legal requirement of a maximum concentration, imposing marketing restrictions or requiring better labelling of hazardous ingredients to improve public awareness of potential risk.