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EARTHWATCH : On 'No-Stinkos' : Natural, nontoxic, non-polluting deodorants and antiperspirants are obtainable in the county.

November 15, 1990|RICHARD KAHLENBERG

There are some forms of air pollution that can't be regulated. If you've ever sat next to someone who reeks of apres-le-bain (which you suspect was used instead-of-le-bain) you know what I mean. It got me to thinking about the delicate topic of deodorants and antiperspirants. "No-stinkos," my father used to call them when they first came out--an expression my kids enjoy perpetuating.

Are there any effective natural, nontoxic and non-polluting deodorants and antiperspirants? Yes. They're easily obtainable in the county. Even manufactured around here (see FYI). But did you catch my reference to non-polluting? Didn't they already fix that by outlawing the chlorinated fluorocarbon (CFC) sprays that hurt the ozone layer?

The Air Resources Board, I discovered last week, is still worried about aerosol spray deodorants. There's where the pollutant lurks--in the propellants in aerosol spray cans. Even though only one out of four Californians still uses a canned deodorant with aerosol propellant (when we thought we were getting rid of CFCs a few years ago we cut back nobly), the new propellant that manufacturers put in to replace the old ozone-killing CFCs sprays out a hydrocarbon that now floats around and causes smog.

Aw, that can't be much, one thinks. Alas, the ARB calculates that Californians in search of aerosol-propelled odorlessness are putting five tons of smog-producing pollutants into our air daily. Not impressed yet? That's equal to the smog output of 200,000 cars. To put this in perspective, if the ARB's statewide 1993-98 prohibition against these hydrocarbons doesn't cut them way down, one effective alternative would be to garage every vehicle in the county. Or some other county our size. But Jim Boyd, ARB executive officer, is optimistic. He thinks the manufacturers will reformulate their products. "All of them will be more environmentally acceptable than what is on store shelves today."

FOR THE RECORD - A Note to Readers
Los Angeles Times Thursday November 15, 1990 Ventura County Edition Metro Part B Page 4 Column 1 Zones Desk 1 inches; 28 words Type of Material: Correction
The artist renderings that should have appeared with the Earthwatch and Reluctant Novice features on J12 and J13 in today's Ventura County Life section were mistakenly switched in some editions.

There is yet another problem, this one connected with products advertised as "long-lasting." The problem is aluminum chlorhydrate. Remember a few years ago when we learned that aluminum cookware speeded up the onset of Alzheimer's? Well, there are other ways into your bloodstream. Aluminum chlorhydrate (not addressed in last month's ARB ruling) is a very potent bacteria killer. Its absence in many competing deodorants doesn't mean "weak" though. It means you may need an application again after your workday. Some manufacturers substitute another mineral called alum. Despite its name it is not related to aluminum. It is an absorbent, not a bactericide. A natural bactericide used in the Herbal Fresh brand among others is an extract of green tea. Any of the "non-irritating" natural or organic bactericides used in the products cited today have as their principal virtue that they break down, they are biodegrade, with age. This is not true of the tongue-twisting petrochemicals listed on the "powerful" brands.

So stroll on past those aerosol cans and read the ingredients on the other products. If it sounds harsh and high-tech, it is. If it sounds soft and gentle, it probably is. The difference is, the former will blitz you and our environment and the latter will not. The personal care product trade organization that I queried confirmed the ARB's assertion that manufacturers plan to go along with the new California regulations. Therefore some of these guaranteed "long-lasting" no-stinko items eventually won't be on the shelves any more. According to the spokesman, the new California regulations will result in "being able to pick out a Californian in a crowd." Let's be Californian and proud.

FYI

Nearby manufacturers of gentle deodorants and antiperspirants include:

Levlad/Nature's Gate in Chatsworth, makers of Herbal Fresh deodorants carried by major retail chains; (818) 882-2951

Desert Essence Cosmetics, P.O. Box 588, Topanga; (213) 455-1046. Their deodorant contains tea tree oil and can be found at Follow Your Heart, 201 N. Milpas, Santa Barbara; (805) 966-2251.

Although not made in California, Tom's of Maine (available at Trader Joe's) offers natural deodorants as well as antiperspirants containing alum. A tip on retail sources: Check health food stores countywide.

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