Originally published March 15 2008
Natural Consumer Products Found Contaminated with Cancer-Causing 1,4-Dioxane in Groundbreaking Analysis Released by OCA
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor
A cancer-causing compound called 1,4-dioxane has been found in some of the most commonly used petroleum-based cosmetics by a study commissioned by the Organic Consumers Association, including products from Kiss My Face, Nutribiotic, Jason, Ecover, Citrus Magic, 365, Alba, Lifetree, Giovanni, Seventh Generation, Method, Earth Friendly Products, Sea-Chi Organics and many other brands . 1,4-dioxane (often just called dioxane) is a clear, colorless, organic compound that's a liquid at room temperature and is a known human carcinogen.
The study was conducted by the Organic Consumers Association (www.OrganicConsumers.org) in conjunction with Dr. Bronner's (www.DrBronner.com) and David Steinman, author of The Safe Shopper's Bible. It sought to determine the levels of 1,4-Dioxane in one hundred different consumer products, ranging from dish soaps to shower gels. Around fifty of the products tested were found to be contaminated with 1,4-Dioxane, while another fifty (or so) were found to be free of the cancer-causing chemical.
Companies whose products were found to be free of 1,4-Dioxane include Dr. Bronner's, Aubrey Organics, Burt's Bees, Desert Essence, Dr. Hauschka, EO, TerrEssential, Zia Fresh, Avalon Organics and other companies.
Some companies had products in both categories, meaning some of their products were found to be contaminated with 1,4-Dioxane while other products from the same company were found to be free of 1,4-Dioxane. These companies included Alba, Jason, Kiss my Face, Method, Nature's Gate, Origins, Shikai and others.
In response to the results indicating the contamination of many consumer care products, the Organic Consumers Association's Executive Director, Ronnie Cummins, said, "The labeling and formulation practices of these companies are so unsupportable, we wonder sometimes if the garbage manager is in charge of the products development and R&D."
Ronnie Cummins took part in a press conference yesterday that announced the findings. NaturalNews was there to record the press conference, and we've posted the 28-minute announcement as an audio file (MP3) at: http://www.naturalnews.com/Index-Podcasts.ht... (see Health Ranger Report #12). We also took numerous photos, which we'll be posted in a follow-up article on this topic. Also, we're conducting a live interview with Ronnie Cummins today, and we'll be posted the complete audio of that interview shortly.
The toxicity of 1,4-Dioxane1,4-Dioxane is classified as an ether and is a known eye and respiratory tract irritant that readily penetrates the skin. The chemical is primarily used in solvent applications during manufacturing. Most notably, it appears as an accidental byproduct of the ethoxylation process in cosmetics manufacturing. It often appears as a chemical contaminant in cosmetics and personal care products such as deodorants, shampoos, toothpastes and mouthwashes.
The National Toxicology Program considers dioxane to be a known animal carcinogen. The Environmental Protection Agency classifies this cancer-causing petrochemical as a probable human carcinogen, based on the "induction of nasal cavity and liver carcinomas in multiple strains of rats, liver carcinomas in mice, and gall bladder carcinomas in guinea pigs," according to a 2003 EPA report. Common sense tells us that the chemical is also carcinogenic to humans. Conducting such tests on humans to determine the actual level of carcinogenicity, however, would be highly unethical, so those tests have not been done. That's why 1,4-Dioxane is technically called a "probable" human carcinogen. But everybody in the industry knows it's a cancer-causing chemical.
Dioxane is on California's Proposition 65 list of chemicals known or suspected by the state to cause cancer or birth defects. According to researchers at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a recent assessment of ingredients in 15,000 cosmetics and other personal care products found that 22 % of all products may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane. The group's research on personal care products is available at http://www.ewg.org/reports/skindeep
Cosmetics: An industry of deathBased on the presence of dioxane in common ingredients of a wide array of products that the cosmetics industry uses, an EWG analysis of government and industry sources shows that at least 146 cosmetic ingredients may contain harmful impurities linked to systematic cancer and other serious health impacts.
A 2004 online survey found that 20% of people who use cosmetics and personal care products every day are potentially exposed to all of the top seven carcinogenic impurities -- hydroquinone, ethylene dioxide, 1,4-dioxane, formaldehyde, nitrosamines, PAHs, and acrylamide.
All of these chemicals are common in personal care products, yet none are restricted by government safety standards. In other words, it's perfectly legal for cosmetic companies to poison the population with known cancer-causing chemicals, all with the nod of approval from the FDA.
Of the potential contaminants in cosmetic products, hydroquinone was ranked the leader in impurities, as it is often found in products used daily by 94% of women and 69% of men. This chemical is currently under review by the FDA.
Cancer-causing chemicals in "organic" and "natural" productsWhat these recent findings by the Organic Consumers Association reveal, however, is that 1,4-Dioxane is not only found in conventional consumer care products; it's also found in so-called "natural" or "organic" products. Even the Whole Foods 365 brand was found to be contaminated with 1,4-Dioxane, along with the Jason brand, Kiss My Face and many others.
This, says Cummins, is a great disservice to the natural products industry and the consumers who support the industry. When consumers shop for "natural" or "organic" products, they pay a premium, and they expect those products to be free of cancer-causing chemical contaminants like 1,4-Dioxane.
These findings underscore the importance of researching the companies and products you're buying, even if they claim to be "organic" or "natural."
How to tell if they're safeHow can consumers tell if products are truly free from 1,4-Dioxane? As David Steinman noted in the press conference, all the products tested that carried the USDA Organic seal of approval were found to be free from 1,4-Dioxane. So looking for the USDA certified organic seal is currently the best way to protect yourself from this cancer-causing chemical.
Also, the OCA has urged consumers to read ingredients labels, and avoid all consumer care products made with the following ingredients (or words in the ingredients):
• Cateareth (or other "eth")
• Polethylene Glycol
Read more from the OCA at www.OrganicConsumers.org
Zero safety testing required for cosmetic ingredientsThe FDA currently does not require safety testing of cosmetic products or their ingredients. The cosmetic industry polices the safety of its own products, and this safety panel is run and funded by the industry's trade association. In other words, very little testing actually occurs because the government does not mandate this testing, and potentially hazardous ingredients can slip through the cracks. There is also no financial incentive for the cosmetic industry to raise questions about the safety of its own products.
Contamination with 1,4 dioxane is shockingly widespread. It is found in:
• 97% of hair relaxers
• 82% of hair dyes and bleaching
• 66% of hair removers
• 57% of baby soap
• 45% of sunless tanning products
• 43% of body firming lotion
• 36% of hormonal creams
• 36% of facial moisturizers
• 35% of anti-aging products
• 34% of body lotion
• 33% of around-eye creams
Recent laboratory tests "revealed the presence of 1,4-Dioxane in products such as Hello Kitty Bubble Bath, Huggies Baby Wash, Johnson's Baby Wash, Scooby-Doo Bubble Bath and Sesame Street Bubble Bath. The tests also found the carcinogen in Clairol Herbal Essences Shampoo, Olay Complete Body Wash and many other personal care products," according to a Feb. 2007 EWG press release.
The FDA has been measuring 1,4-dioxane levels since 1979, but because the agency has little authority or enforcement capacity over the cosmetics industry, it has worked with manufacturers to reduce levels on a voluntary basis only.
"Regrettably, 1,4-Dioxane contamination is just the tip of the iceberg," said Jeanne Rizzo, R.N., executive director of the Breast Cancer Fund which is a founding member of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. "Because the FDA does not require cosmetics products to be approved as safe before they are sold, companies can put unlimited amounts of toxic chemicals in cosmetics."
I strongly recommend that consumers choose products free of these chemicals and impurities. To avoid 1,4-dioxane, read the ingredients and avoid any of the 56 cosmetic ingredients that can contain the contaminant, including "sodium laureth sulfate" and ingredients whose names include "PEG," "xynol," "ceteareth," and "oleth."
Be sure to listen to the full press conference of this groundbreaking announcement at: http://www.naturalnews.com/Index-Podcasts.ht...
Straight talk: the Health Ranger's opinion on all thisLet's be honest here: Many of the so-called "organic" product companies are frauds. They put the word "organic" or "natural" in their company name or product names, but in reality, they're using cheap, low-grade, contaminated ingredients that actually promote cancer. These companies should be ashamed of their behavior.
I urge NaturalNews readers to boycott the companies whose products were found to be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane. When these companies apologize for their behavior, recall their products, and reformulate their products to be free of this cancer-causing chemical, then we can lift the boycott on their products. But for now, I urge all NaturalNews readers to boycott the Jason brand of products, Earth Friendly Products, Alba, Method, Giovanni and even Nutribiotic (which is a company that makes other products I fully support, actually). These companies need to clean up their act and eliminate 1,4-dioxane from their consumer products.
There is no excuse for putting "natural" products on the market that are contaminated with 1,4-dioxane. These companies have been caught like Gov. Spitzer, except that their products are screwing everybody! They need to apologize, announce programs to eliminate 1,4-dioxane, and work to regain consumer trust. Until they are willing to do that, I say avoid their products.
In the mean time, use the soap I've always recommended: Dr. Bronner's. There no soap more honest, pure and natural. Dr. Bronner's has remained on the top of my list of recommended products for years, and as these recent test results show, Dr. Bronner's soap is not contaminated with 1,4-dioxane.
Watch NaturalNews.com for more information about this breaking story.
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