If you have a little one, you probably buy special shampoo just for the them. You look for a brand that’s well known, a formula that’s soft on your baby’s skin and a product that won’t burn their eyes. Like many parents, you’re probably familiar with the brand Johnson & Johnson. What you may not know, is that their baby shampoo contains two potential carcinogens.
Cancer-Causing Chemicals In Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo
Health and environmental groups have been urging the company to remove two potentially carcinogenic chemicals from its baby shampoo. The first is an ingredient known as quaternium-15. This chemical releases formaldehyde, a known carcinogen and a skin, eye and respiratory irritant. According to Safe Cosmetics, “The North American Contact Dermatitis Group considers quaternium-15 to be among the most clinically significant contact allergens in children.”
The other dangerous ingredient in Johnson & Johnson’s baby shampoo is a chemical called 1,4-dioxane. The CDC admits that 1,4 dioxane is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” The chemical is toxic to the brain, central nervous system, liver and kidneys. 1,4-dioxane is present in several Johnson & Johnson products:
- Baby Shampoo
- Oatmeal Baby Wash
- Moisture Care Baby Wash
- Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Creamy Wash
Removing The Chemicals
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics sent Johnson & Johnson a letter signed by 25 environmental and medical groups. The letter demanded the company commit to removing the chemicals from all of its products.
Johnson & Johnson responded by saying, “We have been phasing out the use of preservatives that release tiny amounts of formaldehyde to guard against bacterial contamination. These preservative technologies, which are used widely in our industry are all safe and approved in the countries where they are sold… Over the past couple of years, we already have reduced the number of formulations globally with these ‘formaldehyde releaser’ preservatives by 33% and in the U.S. by over 60%.”
The company’s statement continued, “We are completing this reformulation as quickly as we can safely and responsibly do so. As part of the manufacturing process, we have extensive monitoring to ensure that the amount of a trace byproduct known as “1,4 dioxane” in any of our products is well below the level that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and regulatory agencies around the world consider safe.”
How To Avoid Formaldehyde And 1,4-Dioxane
Instead of listing these ingredients on labels, manufacturers use other words to hide them inside the product. Common ingredients that contain formaldehyde include:
- DMDM hydantoin
- Imidazolidinyl urea
- Diazolidinyl urea
Ingredients that create 1,4-dioxane as a byproduct include:
- PEG-100 stearate
- Sodium laureth sulfate
- Sodium myreth sulfate
Harmful chemicals, fragrances and potential allergens can be found in many shampoos, soaps and lotions, even those that are marketed toward babies and children. Consider switching to organic brands of personal care products for you and your children. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website to evaluate popular products.