In the aftermath of a report revealing that popular Johnson & Johnson baby care products contain carcinogens, a coalition of environmental, health and consumer groups are demanding the company remove the toxins from their product line.
The chemicals in question are 1,4-dioxane and preservatives that release formaldehyde. A letter was sent to Johnson & Johnson by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and was signed by nearly 50 groups representing about 1.7 million members, from the Environmental Working Group and Friends of the Earth to the American Nurses Association and Physicians for Social Responsibility, according to an Associated Press story.
"There's really no excuse for a baby shampoo marketed as the No. 1 choice of hospitals to contain chemicals suspected of causing cancer," Lisa Archer, the campaign's national coordinator, told The Associated Press in an interview.
Johnson & Johnson has responded to say they’d be willing to meet with the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics but that they don’t have plans to remove the chemicals at this time.
The problem isn’t isolated to Johnson & Johnson products. An independent laboratory found 1,4-dioxane, which is banned in the European Union, in 25 baby and personal care products including the popular Aveno brand.
These chemicals are not listed on the products’ ingredients list because they are not technically ingredients; they are considered contaminants. Johnson & Johnson assures that these chemicals do not pose a health threat, however the company has removed the chemicals from products sold in Japan because of stronger regulation of products there.
Companies have fought regulation for decades in the U.S. and as a result personal care products do not have to pass safety standards and chemical ingredients – even toxic ones – are fair game.
If you’re concerned about the safety of the products in your bathtub, search for product names and find their hazard scores on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database.