Prevention and Action against Cancer and Toxicants

The PACT project is an education and action initiative for community groups with the goal of sensitizing them to the dangers of toxicants in consumer products.

For this project, we will be targeting five hazardous toxicants to eliminate. We are also looking to stimulate the emergence of creative and innovative actions for a toxic-free environment. For information about the workshops, click here

Click here to see photo album of participating groups of the PACT project

Toxics chemicals in consumer products


The personal care products used daily in North America are an important source of exposure to toxic substances that may have harmful effects on our health. Recent studies have demonstrated that there could be a link between several types of cancers and chronic illnesses and common ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products.

Although further studies are needed to investigate the causal link between these chemicals and various diseases, the evidence is more than sufficient to recommend a precautionary approach concerning toxic substances in the everyday personal care products.

One of the most worrisome aspects is the cumulative effect of exposure to toxic chemicals. Indeed, Canadians use per day an average of 15 personal care products (shampoo, soap, toothpaste, makeup, hair gel, etc.)  which contain more than 100 toxic ingredients, even before  having their breakfast.
At Breast Cancer Action Montreal , we believe that these toxic substances, potentially harmful to our health should be banned from consumer products.

Precautionary principle

You and your family’s best protection is the precautionary principle. Activists use this term to express the idea that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. In other words, when there are reasonable scientific grounds for believing a process or product may not be safe, even when cause-and-effect relationships are not fully understood, preventive action must be taken.

The regulatory process in the European Union is based on the precautionary principle. The EU tests all chemical ingredients before allowing them on the market and, in addition, does not allow any that may be harmful. Compare this to Canada, where chemicals are only banned once there is enough evidence that it is harmful. The EU is an example of the precautionary principle in action.

Types of toxicants

Here are three different types of toxicants and their effects on human.

  1. Carcinogen: a substance or agent that is directly involved in causing cancer (e.g. asbestos)
  2. Reproductive toxicant:  a substance that can affect reproduction for example by affecting fertility (e.g. lead)
  3. Endocrine disruptor:  Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s hormonal system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife. (e.g Phthalates)

The 5 toxics chemicals to eliminate

For this project, we will be targeting to eliminate five hazardous toxicants. To learn more about these toxicants just click on the icone.

Flame retardants Phthalates
Formaldehyde Triclosan

Practical tips and safer alternatives

The Healthy House Guide aims to be a comprehensive guide of  information on the sources of chemical exposures in the home, practical tips and safer alternatives for reducing those exposures, and resources for more information.

Download the house guide here

Become a knowledgeable consumer

We can’t overestimate the importance of being a knowledgeable consumer! There are responsible product manufacturers out there and there are also tools to help you make better choices in your future purchases.

The toxic twenty pocket guide is a tool we created to inform the population about the 20 toxic substances to avoid in the ingredient list of your future purchases of products.

You can download the toxic 20 pocket guide here

Please note that “Toxic Twenty” list is not all-inclusive. There are hundreds of chemicals used in the manufacturing of cosmetics that can negatively impact particular aspects of health and should also be avoided. However, BCA-Qc decided to target twenty chemicals we find important to eliminate.

You can also visit U.S. databases such as EWG's Skin Deep and GoodGuide.

Skin Deep and GoodGuide give you the ability to search various ingredients in many brand name products. They ranks products and ingredients based on safety and inform you about the health risks associated with the use of these products.


  1. Skin deep EWG :
  2. Good guide :

In addition, you can decide to make your own homemade cosmetics and non-toxic household products. Here is a document that gives you some recipes you can make at home.

Download the document   Download the document



Take action

Download our new Take Action Activist Toolkit. Click here to download the document

The purpose of the “Take Action” activist toolkit is to equip our members and all citizens with everything they need to bring about societal change through collective action. The toolkit is divided into three sections: Communicating with Government, Working with Industry and Connecting with the Media. Each section contains advice and useful tips.

Here are some ideas for actions at the individual level to contribute to the reduction of toxic substances in our lives. Remember that you have power as consumers and citizens !

  • Ask lots of questions! At times it may be necessary to consult a company’s website in order to really know what goes into their products. The companies that truly care about your health will disclose this information. If the information is not on the website, then feel free to contact the company directly.
  • With the knowledge you’ve acquired, take the opportunity to educate clerks, managers, and owners!
  • Be sure to support companies and stores that are selling and making safe and ecological products. If you can’t find the products you want, keep asking for them – your local store will get the hint!
  • Write to your MP or send letters to Health Canada. Make your concerns known to the government.
You can also support us by becoming a member of BCA-Qc and signing petitions online:

Ask cosmetics companies to improve their chemical policies

Other ressources David Suzuki Foundation, The Queen of Green provides resources useful for greening your household cleaning products, personal care products and baby products. This guide provides you with the knowledge necessary to detoxify everything from your personal care products, to baby diapers, to clothing. Resources include: lists of tested products and their efficiency, as well as homemade body care recipes. This organisation lists several resources such as: Just Beautiful: Personal Care Product Shopping Guide, Alternative solutions to cleaning your home, room-by-room guide, Cell phone radiation report: listing of cell phones and their radiation emissions. This website provides a comprehensive guide to less toxic and alternative products (including personal care, household cleaners and baby care).

US This organisation is focused on breast cancer prevention with a lot of information and tips for cancer prevention. : This website provides information on chemicals to avoid in personal care products, as well as reports explaining scientific evidence supporting going toxic-free. EWG has several excellent tools, resources and guides such as:Skin Deep Cosmetic database: ranks cosmetics products and ingredients based on safety, Shopper’s guide to pesticides on produce, Seeking Safer Packaging: a ranking of packaged food companies on BPA and more. This website features an interactive eHome which allows you to navigate a house and reveal potential exposures found in each room. There are also several pocket guides (e.g. Healthy Teether & Pacifier, Healthy Baby Care Products, Safer Plastics). A database of food items and the pesticide residues commonly found on them. This website has a guide for purchasing new vehicles, along with ratings for children’s products.

International This guide lists and rates several electronic companies based on how green they are. The resources on this website include: Greenwashing Report 2010, Name That Sin Game, a wallet card listing the Seven Sins of Greenwashing and a Guide to Ecolabels.