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LOWELL -- A team of UMass Lowell researchers has launched a study, "Beyond Your Body: Personal Care product Use Among Adolescents," to inventory the products and ingredients used by teens to better understand the scope of the issue.
If you knew teenage relatives or neighbors were being exposed regularly to substances like formaldehyde, lead or propane, it would probably cause you some concern. Yet, many are.
The exposure may occur, not necessarily from coming too close to a toxic waste site or working in a dangerous environment, but when artificial nails are removed, mascara or acne cream is applied, or cologne is splashed on. Potentially toxic ingredients in these and other products may be absorbed through the skin or lungs, causing allergic reactions, infections or chronic inflammation.
According to Nursing Prof. Susan Reece, "We almost opted to look at teen smoking, but realized little attention had been paid to this issue."
"Beyond Your Body" is being conducted in two phases: first, a series of focus-group interviews of adolescents and young adults is underway to inventory what products are used. Then, an on-line survey of teens from greater Lowell will be piloted to give a more complete picture of the chemicals regularly used by teens.
Sociology Prof. Kristin Esterberg, another principle investigator, says, "The focus-group interviews are being facilitated by a team of trained undergraduates from throughout the University, working collaboratively with a small group of high school students from Lowell. The Lowell Community Health Center's Teen Coalition is helping with the recruiting.
The project is being sponsored by College of Health and Environment, the departments of psychology and sociology, the Center for Family, Work and Community, New Ventures Environmental Justice Partnership and the River Ambassador's Program. Additional support has been provided by the Council for Diversity and Pluralism.