HealthDay News — Many common products, including sunscreen and fragranced products, contain multiple endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) or asthma-related chemicals that are often not listed on the label, study data suggest.

Among the chemicals detected were various types of phthalates, which have been linked to reproductive abnormalities and asthma; bisphenol A (BPA), a compound widely used in the manufacture of plastic food containers currently being phased out due to concerns about its effects on fetuses and young children; and parabens, which have been associated with breast cancer.

Robin E. Dodson, ScD, of the Silent Spring Institute in Newton, Mass., and colleagues analyzed 213 commercial products representing 50 product types, including cosmetics, personal care products, cleaners, sunscreens and vinyl products, to quantify ECDs and asthma-related chemicals. The products included in the study consisted of 42 composited samples of high market-share products and 43 alternative products.

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 A total of 55 compounds identified as EDCs or asthma-related substances were identified, the researchers reported in Environmental Health Perspectives. The highest concentrations of detected chemicals were in sunscreens and in fragranced products, including perfume, air fresheners and drier sheets. Vinyl products represented a significant source of bis-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), as they contained more than 10% DEHP.

Other products contained less-studied phthalates, and did not contain well-known EDC phthalates. Many of the chemicals that were detected were not listed on the products’ labels.

“It appears that consumers can avoid some target chemicals — synthetic fragrances, bisphenol A and regulated active ingredients — using purchasing criteria. More complete labeling would enable consumers to avoid the rest,” the researchers wrote.

They offered the following tips: choose plant-based products; use water, baking soda and vinegar for cleaning; wear hats and cover-ups rather than sunscreen for sun protection; avoid cleaning and other products that contain fragrance; avoid vinyl pillow and mattress protectors; use paraben-free lotions, deodorants and shampoos.

Dodson RE et al. Environ Health Perspect. 2012; doi:10.1289/ehp.1104052.