Harmful Chemicals Found in Childrens' Bath Products




A new report released last week by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that 23 out of the 28 children’s bath products they tested contained Formaldehyde — a chemical which is considered a “probable carcinogen” by the Environmental Protection Agency. The chemical, which is not added intentionally to the product, is released over time as preservatives break down in the container.

According to an article in USA Today:

Thirty-two of 48 products contained 1,4-dioxane, also considered a probable human carcinogen by the EPA, is a byproduct of a chemical processing techniques used to make petroleum-based ingredients gentler to the skin. Nearly two-thirds of products tested, including Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, contained both chemicals, according to the campaign, a coalition of environmental and health groups that includes the Breast Cancer Fund and the Environmental Working Group.

Formaldehyde can trigger allergic reactions in sensitive people, the report says, and Japan and Sweden have banned formaldehyde from personal care products.

A spokeswoman for Johnson & Johnson, Iris Grossman, says the company’s products are safe, meeting or exceeding all regulations. And a spokesman for the Personal Care Products Council says the study’s results are old news.

Manufacturers have known for years that bubble bath, shampoo and other products contain small amounts of formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, and have already reduced theses levels significantly, says John Bailey, the council’s chief scientist.

Bailey says that preservatives make products safer by preventing the growth of bacteria, fungus and other potentially harmful microbes. There’s no reason to take “extraordinary measures” to further reduce levels of these chemicals, he says, because there’s no evidence to prove that low levels pose a risk.

“Cosmetic and personal care product companies take their commitment to safety and their responsibilities under the law very seriously and work hard to earn and keep the trust of consumers and their families,” Bailey said in a statement. “Parents should be given complete and accurate information about their products based on sound science rather than on incomplete and alarmist reports.”

Other scientists say the report raises important safety concerns.

Sheela Sathyanarayana, an environmental health pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital and an assistant professor at the University of Washington, says she’s seen kids become “extremely sensitized” from formaldehyde exposures. These children develop bigger and bigger reactions with each new exposure. That can make skin sensitive to a variety of substances, beyond just formaldehyde, she says.

Although Sathyanarayana was not involved in the new report, her research has shown that many other baby products contain chemicals called phthalates, which can interfere with the hormone system.

She notes that formaldehyde also irritates the nasal and respiratory passages.

A report released last week by the Organic Consumers Association found that makers of many personal products and household cleaners have significantly reduced levels of 1,4-dioxane in the past year. The study found that products bearing the U.S. Department of Agriculture Organic seal, such as items by Dr. Bronner’s, Intelligent Nutrients and Terressentials, were free of 1,4-dioxane.

Whole Foods is reformulating its 365 Everyday Value products to be free of 1,4-dioxane by this summer, spokeswoman Libba Letton says.

Brands that have sharply reduced levels of 1,4-dioxane since March 2008, when the association released its last report, include: Earth Friendly Products, Ecco Bella, Giovanni, Jason, Johnson & Johnson, Kiss My Face, Life Tree, Method, Nature’s Gate, Planet Ultra and Seventh Generation, which contributed $10,000 to fund the Organic Consumers Association study.

For a listing of the products tested and their results, see below. While all of the following products were tested for 1,4-dioxane, only 28 were tested for formaldehyde.

Note:
None of the baby bath products tested in the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ new report list formldehyde and 1,4-dioxane on their labels. The chemicals are formed as byproducts of the manufacturing process, and are NOT added intentionally.

However, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics says when you’re in the supermarket or drugstore, be on the lookout for these ingredients, which are likely to contain either of the hazardous chemicals:

Peg-100 stearate, sodium laureth sulfate, polyethylene and ceteareth-20, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea and sodium hydroxymethoylglycinate.

Product Name and Company1,4-dioxane (in parts per million)Formaldehyde (in parts per million)
Lotions
American Girl Hopes and Dreams Shimmer Body Lotion (Bath & Body Works)
ND*310
Baby Magic “Soft Baby Scent” Baby Lotion (Ascendia Brands, Inc)
ND*570
Baby Magic “Soft Baby Scent” Baby Lotion (Ascendia Brands, Inc)
0.92610
Baby Magic “Soft Baby Scent” Baby Lotion (Ascendia Brands, Inc)
ND*330
Johnson’s Bedtime Lotion Natural Calm Essences (Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies)
ND*Not tested for this chemical
Mustela Baby Body Lotion (Laboratories Expanscience)
ND*Not tested for this chemical
Tinker Bell Body Lotion (Goldie LLC)
ND*220
Shampoos
CVS Baby Shampoo (CVS/Pharmacy)
0.92350
Johnson’s Baby Shampoo (Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies)
ND*200
Johnson’s Baby Shampoo (Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies)
1.1210
L’Oreal Kids Extra Gentle 2-in-1 Fast Dry Shampoo — Burst of Cool Melon (L’Oreal USA)
0.95260
Suave Kids 2-in-1 Shampoo — Wild Watermelon (Unilever)
0.69ND*
Liquid Shower Soaps
American Girl Hopes and Dreams Glistening Shower and Bath Wash (Bath & Body Works)
14Not tested for this chemical
American Girl Real Beauty Inside and Out Shower Gel — Apple Blossom (Bath & Body Works)
6.3210
American Girl Real Beauty Inside and Out Shower Gel — Apple Blossom (Bath & Body Works)
5.7220
American Girl Real Beauty Inside and Out Shower Gel — Apple Blossom (Bath & Body Works)
18150
American Girl Real Beauty Inside and Out Shower Gel — Sunny Orange (Bath & Body Works)
35ND*
Bath Washes
Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Creamy Wash (Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies)
1.4Not tested for this chemical
Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Creamy Wash (Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies)
1.7Not tested for this chemical
Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Creamy Wash (Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies)
4.6Not tested for this chemical
CVS Kids Body Wash — Blueberry Blast (CVS/Pharmacy)
0.7554
Equate Tearless Baby Wash (Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.)
0.63290
Gentle Naturals Eczema Baby Wash (Del Pharmaceuticals, Inc.)
6.4Not tested for this chemical
Grins & Giggles Milk & Honey Baby Wash (Gerber Products Company)
2.8400
Huggies Naturally Refreshing Cucumber & Green Tea Baby Wash (Kimberly-Clark)
3.2410
Johnson’s Moisture Care Baby Wash (Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies)
3.9Not tested for this chemical
Johnson’s Oatmeal Baby Wash — Vanilla (Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies)
4.2Not tested for this chemical
Mustela Baby Shampoo (Laboratories Expanscience)
2.8Not tested for this chemical
Mustela Dermo-Cleansing Gel for Hair and Body Newborn/Baby (Laboratories Expanscience)
3.9Not tested for this chemical
Night-time Bath Baby Wash (Target Corporation)
3.6Not tested for this chemical
Bubble Baths
Barbie Berry Sweet Bubble Bath (Water-Jel Technologies)
0.65440
Dora the Explorer Bubble Bath (MZB Personal Care)
1.5130
Hot Wheels Berry Blast Bubble Bath (Water-Jel Technologies)
2.8100
Mustela Multi-Sensory Bubble Bath (Laboratories Expanscience)
1.7ND*
Sesame Street Bubble Bath — Orange Mango Tango (The Village Company)
2.8340
Tinker Bell Scented Bubble Bath (Goldie LLC)
11420
Baby Wipes
Huggies Naturally Refreshing Cucumber & Green Tea Baby Wipes (Kimberly-Clark)
ND*Not tested for this chemical
Huggies Soft Skin — Shea Butter (Kimberly-Clark Global Sales Inc)
ND*100
Kirkland Signature Premium Unscented Baby Wipes (Costco Wholesale Corporation)
ND*Not tested for this chemical
Pampers Baby Fresh (Procter & Gamble)
ND*Not tested for this chemical
Pampers Calming — Lavender (Procter & Gamble)
ND*Not tested for this chemical
Hair Relaxers
Dark & Lovely Kids Beautiful Beginnings No-Mistake Nourishing No-Lye Creme Relaxer, Normal to Course Hair (SoftSheen-Carson, owned by L’Oreal USA)
ND*Not tested for this chemical
Dark & Lovely Kids Beautiful Beginnings No-Mistake Nourishing No-Lye Children’s Relaxer System, Fine Hair Types (SoftSheen-Carson, owned by L’Oreal USA)
ND*ND*
Soft & Beautiful Just for Me! No-Lye Conditioning Creme Relaxer, Children’s Super (Alberto-Culver Company)
0.27ND*
Hand Soaps
Pampers Kandoo Foaming Handsoap — Magic Melon (Procter & Gamble)
0.49310
Sun Blocks
Banana Boat Kids UVA & UVB Sunblock Lotion SPF 30 (Sun Pharmaceuticals Corp.)
ND*Not tested for this chemical
No-Ad Sun Pals SPF 45 UVA/UVB Sun Protection (Solar Cosmetics Labs Inc.)
0.46Not tested for this chemical
Toothpastes
Colgate Kids 2-in-1 Toothpaste and Mouthwash — Strawberry (Colgate-Palmolive Company)
ND*Not tested for this chemical
* Not detectable.