Today I was reading a report put out by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics called “No Toxic More Tub.” It details a study they did on popular baby and children bath and care cosmetics, such as Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Creamy Wash, and Grins & Giggles Milk & Honey Baby Wash (from Gerber). The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics hired an independent lab to test products for formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, known carcinogens. These chemicals would not be on product labels because they’re contaminants, not ingredients, and therefore are exempt from labeling laws. I was not too surprised with the results:
What We Found
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics commissioned an independent laboratory to test 48 products for 1,4-dioxane; 28 of those products were also tested for formaldehyde. The lab found that:
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.
While a single product might not be cause for concern, the reality is that babies may be exposed to several products at bath time, several times a week, in addition to other chemical exposures in the home and environment. Those small exposures add up and may contribute to later-life disease.
Formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane are known carcinogens; formaldehyde can also trigger skin rashes in some children. Unlike many other countries, the U.S. government does not limit formaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, or most other hazardous substances in personal care products.
Again, I find these results deplorable, but not too surprising. If you look up mainstream children’s care products on Skin Deep you will go running in the other direction. No parent wants to expose their child to toxic chemicals in the tub, especially when perfectly natural and safe products are available at a reasonable cost. That’s why I was moved to preform My Cosmetic Purge January of 08. And that’s why we added a line of organic, truly pure children’s care products to our site at the same time.
But, there was something surprising… At the end of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics report, “Toxic Tub” there is a “status update” that reads:
A major supermarket in China has pulled Johnson & Johnson products from the shelves amid concerns that the products are contaminated with carcinogens, driven by our testing. The Chinese government is also reportedly testing products. The Vietnamese Drug Administration announced March 16 that it will test baby products in that country.
So far, there has been no action by the U.S. FDA.
If you go ahead and read the article, you’ll find it’s true. One major Chinese chain has decided that Johnson & Johnson is not safe enough for China! Wow, not safe enough for China! Considering the excessive amount of lead and phthalate-tainted products that are manufactured in China for the USA, how does this make you feel about the safety of your Johnson & Johnson products? For another eye-opening article, check out Case Study: Pure and gentle? Children’s products can be deceptive which takes a close look at an American classic: Johnson’s Baby Shampoo.
Bottom line: don’t take the purity of your skin care products for granted. The skin absorbs those chemicals day after day and year after year. While the FDA is so completely inept, it’s worth doing your research and purchasing natural products. To evaluate products, see Skin Deep. For a safe, practical baby care line, I can wholeheartedly recommend Earth Mama Angel Baby, which we use and enjoy in our home.