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Washing Your Hair May Be Dangerous to Your Health

I've posted a lot of information on my Web site about the hidden, and often toxic, chemicals found in commonly used products, like cosmetics and antibacterial hand soaps. Recent tests on the brain cells of rats have found contact with methylisothiazolinone (MIT) -- an antimicrobial agent, or biocide compound in shampoos, paints and hand lotions -- can cause neurons to die.

Prolonged exposure to low levels of MIT restricted the growth of axons and dendrites of immature rat nerve cells in cultures, apparently by disengaging the machinery of a key enzyme that is activated in response to cell-to-cell contact, and may have potentially damaging consequences to developing nervous systems, according to researchers.

Besides household products, MIT is used in the manufacture of industrial water cooling systems to prevent bacteria from developing.

Without more testing of MIT, the lead researcher warned, a pregnant woman exposed to this biocide compound may be putting her fetus at risk for abnormal brain development. Right now, however, those who work directly with MIT are most at risk.

To learn more about the wide-ranging use of MIT in common household products we take for granted, check out this list compiled by the National Institutes of Health.

Forbes December 6, 2004

EurekAlert December 5, 2004

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