Harmful chemicals are probably the last thing parents would expect to find in their baby’s shampoo. But a coalition of health and environmental groups says a potentially cancer-causing chemical can be found in a popular brand of shampoo for babies. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics says Johnson and Johnson is using a formaldehyde-releasing ingredient in the baby shampoo it sells in the United States. Quaternium-15 is a chemical preservative that kills bacteria by releasing formaldehyde. Formaldehyde was recently added to the U.S. government list of known human carcinogens by the National Toxicology Program.
The coalition analyzed the labels of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo sold in 13 countries to see if the products contained quaternium-15. The group published its findings in a new report called “Baby’s Tub is Still Toxic”. The report found Johnson’s Baby Shampoo sold in the United States, Canada, China, Australia and Indonesia all contained the chemical while the same line of shampoo sold in seven other countries contained formaldehyde-free preservatives.
“Clearly there is no need for Johnson & Johnson to expose babies to a known carcinogen when the company is already making safer alternatives,” said Lisa Archer, director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics at the Breast Cancer Fund.
For two years, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has been urging Johnson and Johnson to remove trace amounts of harmful chemicals from its products. In response to the latest report, Johnson and Johnson released a statement saying it is no longer introducing new products with formaldehyde-releasing chemicals and has reduced the use of the preservatives by 60 percent in the U.S. market and 33 percent globally over the past few years.
The coalition sent a letter to Johnson and Johnson signed by medical and environmental groups representing 3.5 million people. It asks the company to publicly commit by November 15 to removing chemicals from all personal care products. The coalition also called on consumers to boycott Johnson and Johnson baby products until the company agrees to remove the chemicals.
For tips on finding bath products that are safe for your baby and the planet, watch this DoYourPart video.