The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of health, environmental and consumer groups, is demanding that Johnson & Johnson remove tiny amounts of two chemicals, which are believed to cause cancer, from their baby shampoo and other products. They are asking the company to reformulate its personal care products so that by the end of August the products can be free of 1,4-dioxane and any preservatives that release formaldehyde. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), these two chemicals are probable carcinogens; formaldehyde is also an eye, skin and respiratory irritant. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics believes the shampoo marketed as the number one choice for hospitals should not contain possible carcinogens.
In tests run by the campaign, an independent laboratory found the shampoo contained about 210 parts per million of formaldehyde. About two dozen other products out of forty-eight tested had similar or even higher levels. The shampoo also had low levels of 1,4-dioxane, which has been banned by the European Union. The chemical was found in three Aveeno baby wash products made by Johnson & Johnson, Johnson’s moisture care and oatmeal baby washes, and about twenty-five baby and personal care products made by other companies. The campaign claims there are no safe levels of carcinogens. They also note the fact that these chemicals are not listed on the products labels because they are contaminants, not ingredients. In a letter to Johnson & Johnson’s chief executive, the campaign states many other companies make similar products by using ingredients with no contamination concerns. It is also noted that Johnson & Johnson does not include formaldehyde in the same products sold in Japan since it is banned in that country. Because the FDA does not regulate cosmetic products, the same has not been done in America.
Johnson & Johnson claims the figures the organizations are using can result from making the products safe from bacteria growth and gentle for the use of babies. They further claim many global regulatory agencies consider these trace levels found by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics to be safe. Johnson & Johnson claim to take concerns about their products very seriously and would consider meeting with the campaign, though they have no plans to remove the two ingredients from their products.