Thursday, September 20, 2012

Toxins for Tots?

A whopping 61 percent of children’s bath products tested, including shampoos, contained both 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde—two highly dangerous, carcinogenic toxins.

Children’s shampoo and other bath products are touted as safe and gentle, but they’re often filled with contaminants and toxins, according to laboratory tests commissioned by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Together, they had popular children’s bath products tested for contaminants by an independent laboratory.

The results were astounding and frightening.  A mind-boggling 61 percent of the children’s bath products tested, including shampoos, showed that they contained both 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde—two chemicals linked to cancer, skin allergies and much more.  Click here for the report on the findings.

One of the products that tested positive for having both 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde was Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, although it was far from alone in containing toxins. Interestingly, the makers of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo recently said they were going to re-formulate their baby products with “safer ingredients,” including their shampoo, by the end of 2013. Their adult products, however, won’t be re-formulated until the end of 2015. 

What? That’s far too long to wait to remove toxins.

While their “reformulating” may be a step in the right direction, with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards as they are right now, that certainly doesn’t mean that their products will be free of toxins.  In fact, it doesn’t mean much at all as far as what manufacturers can and can’t formulate their products with.

The truth is that the FDA isn’t authorized to ensure that products are safe, can’t require companies to test products prior to being sold, and doesn’t require contaminants to be listed on product ingredients labels. The result? Most people don’t know if their products contain toxic contaminants—even though many, if not most, do.

Thanks to the EWG and other organizations, however, we’re learning more and more about what’s really in our personal care products—including these children’s bath products. It’s a good thing we know, too, because 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde are serious toxic offenders.

1,4-dioxane is a by-product of chemical processing used to make petroleum-based cosmetic ingredients “gentler” to the skin. Since it’s a by-product of manufacturing, it doesn’t have to be listed on the label. What’s more is that manufacturers could easily remove 1,4-dioxane from products, but they’re not required to do so under federal cosmetic safety standards; therefore, most don’t remove the toxin. 1,4-Dioxane is highly toxic, too. Take a look at what the EWG’s Skin Deep Database says about it. It’s rated a “10”—the highest hazard, with robust data—and has many problematic issues surrounding it.

It’s a similar story for formaldehyde, which contaminates personal care items when commonly used preservatives known as formaldehyde releasers break down over time while housed in product containers. It’s not required to be listed on the label, either, since it’s a by-product of formulation or manufacture.  The EWG lists formaldehyde as a “10,” too, with robust data. (By the way, while you’re at the Skin Deep database, you can type in any of over 74,000 products tested—including shampoos, conditioners, skin care and more—to see how they measure up.)

I know that I don’t want toxins in my children’s bath products. For that matter, I don’t want them in any products used by me, my family, my friends, my colleagues—or anyone else.

It’s toxic-free for me.