Beauty Byte: Consumer Group Questions Carcinogenic Chemicals in Johnson & Johnson Products

Beauty Byte: Consumer Group Questions Carcinogenic Chemicals in Johnson & Johnson Products



No more tears, but something more harmful lurks inside? That's what the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics would lead you to believe. The coalition of health, environmental, and consumer groups — armed with a letter signed by nearly 50 groups totaling some 1.7 million members — approached Johnson & Johnson to ask that the company reformulate its products to be free of chemicals suspected of causing cancer.

The substances in question are 1,4-dioxane (a byproduct of the manufacturing process) the preservative formaldehyde, which is slowly released by a chemical called Quaternium-15, both probable human carcinogens . . . and both found in the much-loved Johnson's Baby Shampoo, marketed as the "number-one choice of hospitals." Um, eek. According to a Johnson & Johnson spokesperson:

The trace levels of certain compounds that were noted by the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics can result from processes that make our products gentle for babies and safe from bacteria growth. Many regulatory agencies around the world consider these trace levels safe.

The quantity in question in the baby shampoo is 210 parts per million of formaldehyde and a "low level" of 1,4-dioxane, amounts thought to be absorbed by the skin. But if the two chemicals were food additives, they'd have to be tested before being sold to prove they didn't contain dangerous chemicals . . . and these two would fail. Since the FDA is not involved in cosmetic product regulation, the point is (somewhat) lost but shocking nonetheless. Does this news change your views or do you consider it just a drop in the bucket?

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