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Environmental Injustice of Beauty: A Deep Dive into the Safety of Personal Care Products

January 22 - May 3, 2024


Grades 9-12



Skills Learned:

● Determine If A Personal Care Product Is Safe Using Apps And Online Tools
● Identify Common Harmful Ingredients In Personal Care Products Such As Lotions, Hair Care Products And Intimate Care Products
● Explain How Harmful Chemicals Lead To Higher Rates Of Diseases And Why People Of Color
Are Disproportionately Affected
● Interpret Chemicals’ Safety Data Sheets
● How To Shop For Safer Products


Classtimes will be coordinated between the Lead Teacher and Teacher Fellow

Session Length:

January 22 - May 3, 2024

Number of Sessions:


This course will be part of an ongoing research study by AIR, in collaboration with CWW, the CERES Institute for Children & Youth at Boston University, and the Rennie Center. The study aims to understand teacher and student experiences in the CWW initiative, including factors influencing effective implementation, and outcomes.


Course Program:

In this course, students will explore the connection between personal care products and
disproportionate rates of harm toward People of Color. Using a systems thinking approach,
students will learn how beauty injustices, such as colorism and hair discrimination, lead to higher
chemical exposure and higher rates of asthma, cancers, and endocrine disorders.
Students will use consumer product safety databases to screen their personal care products.
They will analyze the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) of their products’ ingredients and learn about the
chemicals’ health impacts on human bodies. Next, they will analyze asthma, cancers, and
endocrine disorder data and identify patterns, trends, structures, and mental models that lead to
disproportionate rates of harm to People of Color. As a result, they will be able to recognize
common harmful ingredients and minimize exposure to them.
Students will become agents of change by sharing their learning with others, advocating for law
changes, and personally strengthening their protection from harmful chemicals so that they can
ensure a healthier future for themselves and their loved ones.

Nakia Navarro.webp


Raksmey Derival

Ms. Derival (she/they) is a second-generation Cambodian woman, daughter of refugee immigrants, and mother of two Cambodian-Haitian sons. She graduated from Suffolk University with a degree in biochemistry and forensic science and worked in forensic toxicology and green chemistry labs before joining Innovation Academy Charter School. Ms. Derival teaches chemistry, green chemistry, forensic science, and science and social justice classes through anti-racist and culturally relevant lenses. She is also passionate about healing the world through kindness and science, creating positive energy in social justice movements, and empowering others to remember that they are always, and in all ways, more extraordinary than they think they are.

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