(NaturalNews) A recent press conference hosted by the Green Patriot Working Group (GPWG) included an announcement that Procter and Gamble (P&G) will be reducing the levels of toxic 1,4-dioxane in its Herbal Essences line of hair care products. P&G has stated that it will reformulate eighteen different Herbal Essences products to meet the guidelines established by California's Proposition 65, which require that consumer products contain no more than 10 parts per million (ppm) of 1,4-dioxane.
David Steinman, environmental health consumer advocate and head of GPWG, issued a notice of intent to file a lawsuit against P&G for violating Prop. 65 and exposing consumers to unacceptably dangerous levels of 1,4-dioxane. Together with the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), an 850,000-member watchdog group, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and Clean Water Action California, GPWG proudly announced that the nation's fourth largest company would be reformulating 17 Herbal Essences products by July 1, 2010.
1,4-dioxane is a petrochemical carcinogen that results from using ethoxylation, a chemical process that renders harsh cleaning ingredients more gentle. 1,4-dioxane is created inadvertently due to the chemical processing and is therefore not listed on ingredient labels. Nevertheless, the chemical is highly toxic and consumers are exposed to it through a myriad of different sources.
According to the California Environmental Protection Agency, 1,4-dioxane is known to cause cancer and may cause kidney, respiratory, and neurological toxicity. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has also stated that 1,4-dioxane is a groundwater contaminant. 1,4-dioxane does not biodegrade and has a penchant for clinging to water and making its way through wastewater treatment plants back into water supplies.
Steinman explained during the press conference that his organization targeted the Herbal Essences line of products particularly because it consistently tests higher than many other brands. Instead of offering consumers a "totally organic experience" as its marketing claims, Herbal Essences products actually expose consumers to levels of 1,4-dioxane upwards of twice the established maximum.
Since Herbal Essences products are marketed as being natural, organic and herbal, it is entirely unacceptable that they have consistently tested among the highest for 1,4-dioxane. The announcement from P&G represents a positive step forward towards removing 1,4-dioxane entirely from consumer products, as other large companies will likely have to address the problem as well.
"Ten ppm could well be just the start and as its supply chain improves, P&G will no doubt move closer and closer to non-detectable levels," explained Steinman during the conference.
With the last product in the Herbal Essences line set to be reformulated by January 2011, it remains to be seen how the other major consumer product manufacturers will respond to P&G's announcement concerning their own product lines.