Several years ago, there was a study published from Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC), a consumer safety group, stating that Johnson & Johnson used some chemicals in it’s baby wash that were cancer-causing and considered dangerous. This information was not something shared widely in pediatrician offices and not really talked about too much in parenting circles, but it certainly picked up some traction in the major news outlets and Johnson & Johnson was aware of the research and the request for chemical removal. After the CSC recently did a new review of the baby wash products across several countries, discovering that the cancer-causing chemical was removed in some countries but not the U.S., it re-released the original study and they made a bigger splash, including a consumer boycott. This time, the CSC requested a consumer boycott on all J&J products because J&J had yet to commit to making changes to the U.S. product line. On the same day, J&J formally addressed the report and announced that they are working towards a phase-out in the U.S. marketplace.
So that you know the whole story and can make your own decision on how to proceed, here is a breakdown of the story from the CSC website and then below are the specific products impacted as well as safe alternatives.
- March 2009: A report by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, No More Toxic Tub, revealed that Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, along with many other children’s bath products, contained two carcinogens—formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane—that were not listed on labels.
- May 2009: More than 40 organizations representing 1.7 million parents, health care providers and environmental health advocates wrote to Johnson & Johnson, detailing their concerns about the toxic chemicals found in the company’s baby products.
- September 2009: The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics again wrote to Johnson & Johnson, asking the company to immediately remove the formaldehyde-releasing preservative quaternium-15 from its baby products in light of new research linking the chemical to increased rates of allergic contact dermatitis.
- 2009-2011: The American Nurses Association and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics met several times with Johnson & Johnson executives to discuss concerns about formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane.
- October 2011: The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, American Nurses Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility and many other health and parents’ groups delivered another letter to Johnson & Johnson asking the company to commit to removing formaldehyde-releasing chemicals from all its children’s products in all markets worldwide by November 15, 2011.
- In response to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics report, Baby’s Tub is Still Toxic, Johnson & Johnson released a statement on Oct. 31, 2011 saying it is phasing out formaldehyde-releasing chemicals from its baby products worldwide.
(In my house, we use the Babyganicswash. On Amazon, you can get a 2-pack of the 20 oz. bottles for about $18, which is $9 per very large bottle. I find it takes us about six months or so to get through these two big bottles.)
So, what do you think? Will you continue to use J&J products? Have any experience with any of the safe alternative options?