Group uncovers toxins in bath products

March 12, 2009 4:07:43 PM PDT
The Bay Area group, Campaign For Safe Cosmetics, released an explosive new report in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday morning, saying children's bath products are contaminated with the potentially cancer-causing chemicals formaldehyde and 1.4 dioxane.

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ABC7 spoke with one of the founders of the campaign, before she left for Washington, to talk about the testing that prompted the campaign's concerns.

"We found dozens of baby shampoos, bubble baths, and other children's body care products to be contaminated with formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane. Neither of those chemicals was listed on the labels of any of the products," said Stacy Malkan with Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

Malken showed ABC7 the dozens of baby care products the campaign had tested at an independent laboratory in Petaluma.

"We were surprised to find that so many popular baby products contained both formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane. I think parents will be surprised to look at the products we tested and find that these products that are advertised as pure and gentle actually contain hidden carcinogens that aren't listed on the labels," said Malkan.

ABC7 contacted the Food and Drug Administration about this because it is the oversight agency. The FDA told ABC7, "All cosmetic ingredients are required to be listed on the label. Since 1,4-dioxane is not a cosmetic ingredient, but a contaminant, it is not listed on the label. Formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasing preservatives are ingredients and they are required to be listed on cosmetic ingredient labeling."

"Formaldehyde is banned from Japan and Sweden for personal care products," said Malkan. "1,4-dioxane is banned in the European Union. Other countries have better labeling laws than the U.S."

ABC7 checked with the Environmental Protection Agency which says the EPA "considers formaldehyde a probable human carcinogen."

The EPA has classified 1,4-dioxane as a probable human carcinogen ,which means there is some evidence that it could cause cancer in people.

The organization representing the cosmetics industry, the Personal Care Products Council, sent a statement to ABC7 saying the allegations made by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics are wrong. Part of the statement says the allegations are:

"Patently false and a shameful and cynical attempt by an activist group to incite and prey upon parental worries and concerns in order to push a political, legislative and legal agenda. When present, these chemicals would likely be found at very low levels precisely because companies have gone to great lengths in the formulation and manufacturing processes to ensure that the products are safe and gentle for children and also protected from harmful bacterial growth."

Click here to read the full response from the Personal Care Products Council

"They often say it's just a little bit of carcinogen in my product, but it's a little carcinogen in the bubble bath, the baby shampoo, the lotion, and lots of other products the child may be using in a single day, and it's just not necessary," said Malkan.

More information and links:

If you have concerns about what's in personal care products, the state of California's Environmental protection agency has launched a new initiative to provide public access to information on the toxicity of chemicals.

State of California:
www.dtsc.ca.gov/GreenChemistry
www.dtsc.ca.gov
http://cagreenchem.wikidot.com/start

Non-profit organizations:
www.safecosmetics.org
www.cosmeticsdatabase.com
www.goodguide.com

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