Are Stinky Chemicals Making You Sick?

See “Stink!” Director Jon Whelan on The Doctors talking about hidden carcinogens and hormone disruptors in everyday consumer products.

Are Stinky Chemicals Making You Sick?

Jon Whelan, Director of Stink!, on The Doctors


Will New Toxics Law Hide Secret Chemicals?

via EWG, By Jon Whelan, filmmaker, “STINK!”


When I first smelled a strange odor coming from my daughter’s brand-new pajamas, I wanted to find out what caused it.

Trade SecretI had no idea that this seemingly simple question would lead me on a quest through corporate boardrooms, the halls of Congress, and back alleys, eventually to discover that companies are not required to disclose whether their products contain potentially toxic chemicals.

My new documentary “STINK!” follows my journey as I clash with political and corporate operatives trying to protect the darkest secrets of the chemical industry. I was shocked by what I learned, and I’ve made it my mission to fight against secret chemicals in everyday products.

Few laws are more important in that fight than the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, the country’s primary chemical safety law.

Under current law, TSCA, pronounced “tosca,” contains a loophole that has allowed the chemical industry to claim that thousands of chemicals in commerce are “trade secrets” protected from public disclosure — even when someone may have been injured after being exposed to that chemical.

Both the House and Senate have passed bills proposing revisions to TSCA’s trade secret laws. Congressional leaders are working on reconciling the two bills now.

The secret chemical provision in the House-passed bill is far worse than the Senate’s version. The House bill would ensure that thousands of secret chemicals already in the environment will remain just that – secret.

Here’s why.

First, under the House bill, trade secret claims asserted in previous years would remain secret. By contrast, the Senate bill would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to review past trade secret claims.

Second, the House bill would actually make things worse than under current law by allowing industry to hide information about a chemical’s identity in health and safety studies. Why?

Third, the House bill would give companies 10 years to “resubstantiate” their trade secret claims. During that period, the EPA could not ask companies for more evidence to support those claims or revoke that trade secret status.

By contrast, the Senate bill would require companies to prove to the EPA periodically that their company secrets should stay secret. Chemical makers would have to produce evidence whenever the agency inquired out of concern for safety. The EPA would not have to wait to ask questions when a substance’s privileged status as a trade secret was about to expire. Also, under the Senate bill, a chemical banned by the EPA would automatically lose its super-secret status.

I understand that chemical companies need to keep some practices from their competitors or they’ll lose the incentive to innovate. But their arguments for trade secret status should be double-checked. Frequently. When manufacturers can keep chemicals secret, we don’t get to choose the chemicals to which we’re exposed. The chemical industry gets to choose for us.

There are plenty more problems with both the House and Senate versions of the toxic substances overhaul bill. For example, neither measure provides enough funding to enable the EPA to investigate the most potentially dangerous chemicals in a timely way.

But keeping secrets? Forever? Even my daughters know that some information should be shared.

Stink! on Demand

We’re thrilled to announce the Video on Demand (VOD) release of the award-winning documentary “Stink!.”  We can’t wait for you to watch it.  Please help us spread the word – tell your friends and family about Stink!

iTunes   ||    Amazon   ||    Google Play    ||   Vudu    ||   Vimeo

See Stink! on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, and Vimeo on Demand.

See Stink! on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, and Vimeo on Demand.

“Stink!” VOD premiere during Cancer Prevention Month

Following a successful theatrical run in 2015, the powerful and shocking documentary “STINK!” will premiere on Video on Demand (VOD) platforms on February 16, 2016, and continue to screen across the country in the midst of “Cancer Prevention Month.”

February 16, 2016

Mark your calendar for Stink! Digital Release

After purchasing brand new pajamas for his young daughters as a Christmas gift, single father Jon Whelan is troubled when opening the packaging releases a foul odor. Determined to uncover the source of this mysterious stench and whether it poses a health risk to his daughters, Whelan quickly discovers that manufacturers and retailers in the U.S. have no obligation to reveal chemicals used in their products, even if those chemicals can cause cancer, birth defects, and reproductive damage.
Entertaining, enlightening, and at times almost absurd, STINK! takes you on a madcap journey from the retailer to the laboratory, through corporate boardrooms, down back alleys, and into the halls of Congress. Follow Whelan as he clashes with political and corporate operatives all trying to protect the darkest secrets of the chemical industry. You’ll never smell the same again.

Stink! VOD Premiere on iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Google Play, and Vimeo On Demand.

Is Goat Urine in your Favorite Scents?

Most consumers are unaware of the “fragrance loophole.” If you see the word “fragrance” on a product label then you might think it’s a singular ingredient but it’s not. The vague word “Fragrance” is used on product labels in lieu of disclosing the actual ingredients. Companies claim the real ingredients are a “trade-secret.” According to Page Six, “Your favorite fragrance probably has hundreds of chemicals.” Of course everything is made of chemicals and most of them are safe but lab tests reveal toxic and carcinogenic chemicals hidden in many fragrance formulations. Companies are not obligated to disclose these harmful chemicals to consumers, and it’s legal to use literally ANYTHING in a fragrance.

Fragrance loophole.

Fragrance loophole.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates personal care products and fragrances but FDA can’t tell you what the secret ingredients are in scented products. Due to a loophole in the law, it’s illegal for FDA to ask. Personal care products may have undisclosed chemicals linked to cancer and hormone disruption; even ingredients that are just nasty. Seems hard to believe, right? We thought so to so we did a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the FDA and asked for the list of ingredients in Axe Body Spray. Check out the FDA’s response:

FDA freedom of information Act (FOIA) response for Axe Body spray.

FDA freedom of information Act (FOIA) response for Axe Body spray.

How can the FDA possibly regulate personal care products and fragrance if it’s illegal for FDA to demand a list of ingredients from companies it regulates? How can consumers prevent exposure to harmful chemicals if companies won’t disclose the harmful chemicals on product labels? American consumers need chemical disclosure NOT chemical exposure.

WARNING: DO NOT WATCH THIS VIDEO. You will never smell the same again. Seriously, do not watch this!

See what the film critics saying about “Stink!”

Stink! currently stands at 89% on Rotten Tomatoes. We’ll take it! Stink! on Rotten Tomatoes

And Film critics from the New York Times, Boston Globe, LA Times, Village Voice, Variety, and Hollywood Reporter are saying some nice things about Stink! too.

Check out what the New York Times, Boston Globe, LA Times, Village Voice, Variety, Film Journal, and Hollywood Reporter have to say about Stink!

Check out what the New York Times, Boston Globe, LA Times, Village Voice, Variety, Film Journal, and Hollywood Reporter have to say about Stink!

FORTUNE MAGAZINE: How Stinky PJs Launched a Crusade Against the Chemical Industry

Fortune Magazine on STINK!

“Parents of young children all know about smelly pajamas. Few would consider them good source material for a motion picture.

Still, the documentary Stink! — which may cause clothiers, fragrance makers and cosmetics manufacturers to lose some sleep — emanated out of the PJs that director Jon Whelan bought his young daughters for Christmas 2011. When they opened the package, they said, they were greeted by a chemical “stench.”

Deciding to find out what was what, Whelan explored the customer-service route, got a runaround and decided to turn his subsequent inquiries into a crusading, Michael-Moore-like documentary — about industry’s use of questionable chemicals, the lack of government oversight over these chemicals, and the companies that exercise the freedom not to be fully transparent on their product labels.

The battle, which plays out in the film, is between advocates who want full disclosure on product labeling and companies that don’t. Among the principal targets in the film, which opens Friday in Los Angeles, is Justice, the tween clothing chain operated by Tween Brands, a subsidiary of Ascena Retail Group Inc. And the maker of those odoriferous pajamas.

“Safety and transparency are separate issues,” Whelan said. “What’s happened in the past is that industry has argued ‘it’s safe; we don’t have to disclose.’ But they don’t have to prove that it’s safe.”


What is Fragrance?

Many consumers are unaware of the “Fragrance Loophole.”  Look at all the cleaning products under your sink and at the personal care products in your bathroom. You may find the vague word FRAGRANCE on product labels – FRAGRANCE appears to be a singular ingredient but it’s not. FRAGRANCE is used in lieu of disclosing the actual chemical ingredients, which could be hundreds. These secret chemicals may be linked to cancer, reproductive issues and hormone disruption. And this is legal in America. While Europe has banned nearly 1,400 chemicals in its products, only 10 are restricted in America – and that’s by design. Our system to regulate chemicals Stinks!

Because of the Fragrance Loophole, American don’t get to choose the chemicals their families are exposed to; the fragrance, cleaning, chemical and personal care industries gets to choose for us and they don’t have our best interest in mind.

Together, we can expose the Fragrance Loophole and demand that companies start disclosing all the secret chemicals in their products. Let’s take the Stink! Ray out of the holster and demand healthy choices now. Are you ready to be a Stink! Superhero? #SecretsStink


In addition to product manufacturers, we need industry lobbyists to stop gerrymandering and interfering with regulators, so that the regulators can get harmful chemicals off the market and start requiring the disclosure of ALL chemicals on product labels. Consumers need disclosure, not exposure.

Hit these lobbying organizations on social and ask them to explain the consumer benefits of undisclosed chemicals linked to cancer and hormone disruption in everyday consumer products.  tradeass

International Fragrance Association Twitter  Facebook
American Chemistry Council Twitter Facebook
Personal Care Product Council Twitter Facebook
American Cleaning Institute Twitter Facebook

Stink! outed CEO of Justice, Michael Rayden, gets a $44mm Golden Parachute

Justice (aka Tween Brands) is owned by the Ascena Retail Group (NASDAQ – ASNA) and is the largest and most popular retailer of tween girls clothing in the U.S.  This company is featured in Stink! and we were shocked by the toxic chemicals we found in its products intended for tween girls.  The scene where director Jon Whelan confront CEO Michael Rayden will make your blood boil, but apparently bad behavior pays! Read about it.