Report: Toxins Common in Baby Products
Of the Baby Products Tested, 61% Contained Formaldehyde and 1,4-Dioxane
WebMD News Archive
61% of Products Had Both Chemicals continued...
Cleveland Clinic dermatologist Wilma Bergfeld, MD, leads the Cosmetic
Ingredient Review, an industry funded, government-backed panel that assesses
the safety of ingredients used in cosmetics.
She tells WebMD that if the CSC report is accurate, it suggests that
manufacturers are not doing a good enough job of removing 1,4-dioxane from
“Dioxane should not be in any baby care or children’s cosmetic, period,
because it is possible to take it out,” she says. “Formaldehyde is a different
She says the formaldehyde levels cited in the report were well within what
has been shown to be safe.
The review panel recommends that formaldehyde levels in personal care
products should not exceed 2,000 ppm. The highest level of formaldehyde found
in any single product tested by the CSC was 610 ppm.
“We know from animal and human studies that this level is safe and can be
used in all ages, with the exception of people with formaldehyde
sensitivities,” she says.
Baby Care Companies Respond
The Baby Magic line of bath products has been sold since the testing was
done, and a spokeswoman for Naterra International Inc., the company that now
markets the products, tells WebMD that the tested lotion has been
Melanie Dean-Valdez says the product formulations tested by the CSC are no
longer being sold.
In a statement issued late Wednesday by Johnson & Johnson, the company
charged that the report “inaccurately characterized the safety of our products”
and “unnecessarily alarms parents.”
“The trace levels of certain compounds found by the Campaign for Safe
Cosmetics can result from processes that make our products gentle for babies
and safe from bacteria growth,” the statement notes. "The FDA and other
government agencies around the world consider these trace levels safe, and all
our products meet or exceed the regulatory requirements for every country where
they are sold.”
Limited Brands, which owns Bath & Body Works, issued a statement
Thursday noting that the company complies “with all applicable regulations and
is committed to selling only the safest and highest-quality products.”
More Industry Response
In an interview with WebMD, a spokesman for the cosmetics industry group
Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) was highly critical of the CSC
“I am very alarmed that they would make these accusations and not back it up
with solid science,” says chemist John Bailey, PhD. “The report included no
details about how this testing was done.”
Bailey noted that the levels of the two chemicals found in the CSC analysis
are well below established safety limits.
In a written statement, the cosmetics industry group characterized the CSC
report as “incomplete and alarmist.”
“Allegations that commonly used baby products are somehow contaminated with
harmful levels of carcinogenic chemicals are patently false and a shameful and
cynical attempt by an activist group to incite and prey upon parental worries
and concerns in order to push a political, legislative, and legal agenda,” the
The CSC report calls for stronger government regulation to prohibit toxic
contaminants in baby and other personal care products. And it calls on the
industry to reformulate their products to remove the contaminants.
Bailey tells WebMD that manufacturers do take reasonable steps to keep
levels of the chemical byproducts “well below that which would be considered
harmful,” but he adds that it is unrealistic to expect that they can be
completely eliminated from all products.