The products you use to wash your children may contain harmful chemicals known to cause cancer and skin allergies. These chemicals are anything but safe and gentle and completely unregulated.
A new report released by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics reveals test results that found many children’s bath products contain formaldehyde or 1,4-dioxane – and, in many cases, both.
17 out of 28 products tested – 61 percent – contained both formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane.
23 out of 28 products – 82 percent – contained formaldehyde at levels ranging from 54 to 610 parts per million (ppm).
32 out of 48 products – 67 percent – contained 1,4-dioxane at levels ranging from 0.27 to 35 ppm.
(Quoted from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics)
As preservatives break down over time in a container, Formaldehyde - considered a carcinogen by the EPA – is released.
The chemical 1,4-dioxane, also a carcinogen, is a byproduct of a chemical processing technique used to make petroleum-based ingredients gentler to the skin. About two-thirds of the products tested, which included Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, were found to contain both chemicals.
“Johnson & Johnson products meet and/or exceed all safety regulations,” says a spokeswoman for the company.
Several manufacturers have already begun to significantly lower these chemicals in bubble bath, shampoo and other product.
Preservatives are used to make products safer by preventing the growth of fungus, bacteria and other potentially harmfully microbes, says John Bailey, chief scientist for the Personal Care Products Council. It’s unnecessary to take “extraordinary measures” to reduce levels of these chemicals, he says, because there is no evidence to prove low levels poses a health risk.
“Parents should be given complete and accurate information about their products based on sound science, not alarmist reports and incomplete information,” Bailey said.
But, some scientists disagree and say the report raises considerable safety concerns for parents.
“I have seen children become “extremely sensitized” from exposure to formaldehyde,” says Sheela Sathyanarayana, an environmental health pediatrician at Seattle Children's Hospital. She says with each new exposure kids develop bigger reactions which can make skin sensitive to several substances beyond formaldehyde.
While Sathyanarayana was not involved in the report, her research has shown that many other baby products contain phthalates (pronounced THAL- ates), a hormone disrupting chemical.
A recently released report by the Organic Consumers Association found that the makers of several personal products and household cleaners have considerably lowered levels of 1,4-dioxane last year.
Safeguarding your Family from Harmful Chemicals
Formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane chemicals are not disclosed on product labels because they're contaminants, not ingredients, and therefore are exempt from labeling laws.
Pick products that contain fewer ingredients and no synthetic dyes or fragrances.
Search EWG’s cosmetic safety database to learn more about the products you use and to find safer alternatives.
Take action - tell Congress to give the FDA the authority it needs to ensure that all cosmetics, from baby shampoo to lipstick to body lotion, are truly safe.
Lastly, spread the word to family and friends: Send an e-card to let them know about this report.
For more information, read the report “No More Toxic Tub”, released by The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. The Toxic Tub testing results can be found here. #