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Group questions safety of baby products

Fri., March 13, 2009

WASHINGTON – More than half the baby shampoo, lotions and other infant care products analyzed by a health advocacy group were found to contain trace amounts of two chemicals that are believed to cause cancer, the organization said Thursday.

Some of the biggest names on the market, including Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo and Baby Magic baby lotion, tested positive for 1,4-dioxane, or formaldehyde, or both, the nonprofit Campaign for Safe Cosmetics reported.

The chemicals, both characterized as probable carcinogens by the Environmental Protection Agency, are not added intentionally to the products and do not appear on ingredient labels. Instead, they appear to be byproducts of the manufacturing process.

The organization tested 48 baby bath products ranging from bubble bath to shampoo. Of those, 32 contained trace amounts of 1,4-dioxane and 23 contained small amounts of formaldehyde. Seventeen tested positive for both chemicals.

“Our intention is not to alarm parents but to inform parents that products that claim to be gentle and pure are contaminated with carcinogens, which is completely unnecessary,” said Stacy Malkan, a spokeswoman for the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which is calling for the federal government to more aggressively regulate personal care products such as shampoos, lotions and makeup.

Companies that manufacture and sell products tested by the group stressed that they comply with government standards.

“The FDA and other government agencies around the world consider these trace levels safe, and all our products meet or exceed the regulatory requirements in every country where they are sold,” Johnson & Johnson said in a statement. “We are disappointed that the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has inaccurately characterized the safety of our products, misrepresented the overwhelming consensus of scientists and government agencies that review the safety of ingredients, and unnecessarily alarmed parents.”


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