Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Environmental Studies

Other Degree Name/Area of Focus

Environmental Writing

Department or School/College

Environmental Studies

Committee Chair

Phil Condon

Commitee Members

Vicki Watson, Judy Blunt


toxicology, cosmetics, personal care products, fragrance, nail salon, cosmetics regulation


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Business Law, Public Responsibility, and Ethics | Environmental Health | Environmental Policy | Environmental Public Health | Environmental Studies | Health Policy | Inequality and Stratification | Nonfiction | Other Life Sciences | Other Pharmacology, Toxicology and Environmental Health | Other Public Health | Public Policy | Social Policy | Toxicology | Women's Health | Women's Studies | Work, Economy and Organizations


Humans slather, spray, mist, and cleanse their bodies with personal care products like lotion, hairspray, cologne, and shampoo every day. Our cupboards are stocked full of them, but few of us understand what is in those jars and bottles. We trust that if it’s on the shelf at the store, it’s safe. However, this is not always the case, and many personal care products contain chemicals that are harmful to human and environmental health.

My multi-disciplinary Environmental Studies thesis project combines evidenced-based research, interviews, nonfiction narrative, and science communication to create part of a book manuscript intended to educate general consumers about the harmful ingredients found in everyday products in their homes. The book aims to motivate readers to make changes in their own homes and on store shelves.

My thesis begins with an overview to orient the reader to the problem that consumers face. The next chapter, “A Few Drops of No. 5,” unpacks the term “fragrance,” a catchall term that can be more than one hundred chemical ingredients. In this chapter, I discuss the historical, political, and regulatory context that has given rise to term “fragrance,” as well as the chemical ingredients found in fragrance formulations. The third chapter, “Polished,” explores the health effects that nail salon workers experience as a result of failed state and federal policies that allow for exposure to harmful chemicals in salons. The three chapters are preceded by a preface to the thesis project and followed by a conclusion, which overviews future plans for the book manuscript.



© Copyright 2017 Sydney V. Cook