(NaturalNews) A report released on March 12, the first of its kind, shows that numerous baby and child-care products contain the chemicals 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde - despite that those substances do not appear on the product labels. Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Environmental Working Group assigned an independent laboratory to conduct the tests on 48 different products, which included shampoo, bubble bath, baby lotion, and baby wash.
All 48 products were tested for dioxane, and 67 percent were found to contain the chemical at varying levels - 0.27 parts per million (ppm) up to 35 ppm. 28 of those items were tested for the chemical compound formaldehyde, and 23 (82 percent) tested positive at levels ranging from 79 ppm to 610 ppm. 17 of those 28 items contained both formaldehyde and dioxane.
"Companies can obviously do better, and we need to demand that they do better," said Stacy Malkan, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and co-author of the report, which is entitled No More Toxic Tub. "Many companies are already making great products that don't have any of these chemicals [and] many companies in the natural products industry have reformulated to get rid of that problem. We also know many companies are using preservatives that don't use formaldehyde."
Both chemicals are considered "contaminants", and are understood as a probable carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency. Formaldehyde may also cause skin rashes. Malkan explained that a contaminant "is a chemical that is not intentionally added to the product but is a byproduct. Those are all exempt from labeling laws... Companies don't even have to know themselves." Dioxane is produced through chemical processing, while formaldehyde is released from chemicals used as preservatives.
Products that tested for high levels of formaldehyde included American Girl Hopes and Dreams Shimmer Body Lotion, Baby Magic "Soft Baby Scent" Baby Lotion, Tinker Bell Body Lotion, and Johnson's Baby Shampoo. Products that contained both formaldehyde and dioxane included Baby Magic "Soft Baby Scent" Baby Lotion, CVS Baby Shampoo, American Girl Real Beauty Inside and Out Shower Gel, and Huggies Naturally Refreshing Cucumber & Green Tea Baby Wash. A full list of the products, all of which are U.S.-manufactured, is posted on USA Today's website.
The report has prompted International response. The Chinese and Vietnamese governments are conducting their own tests on some of the products, and Chinese and Taiwanese retailers have pulled the products from their shelves. Israel's Health Minister said that Israeli retailers do not sell U.S. baby products that contain carcinogenic contaminants.
U.S. response has also been strong. New York's Senator Kristen Gillibrand, in a press release, stated, "As a mother of two young children, I expect the baby and child products my family uses to be safe. I find it to be unacceptable that the FDA does not regulate personal care products, as it does food and drugs." Three other U.S. Senators have called for greater oversight of the cosmetic industry in response to the results.
Currently, the U.S. does not have safety standards for 1,4-dioxane or formaldehyde, and it does not require that the chemicals be listed on product labels. "Once again, the U.S. is lagging when it comes to protecting children's health," said Lisa Archer, national coordinator and co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. "The lack of safety standards in the U.S. is disadvantaging American companies. We need updated laws to ensure that American products meet the highest bar of safety and are free of toxic chemicals." By contrast, the European Union has banned 1,4-dioxane in personal care products, and formaldehyde is banned in Japan and Sweden and restricted in Europe and Canada.