Carcinogens in Children's Bath Products

The Campaign of Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of environmental and health groups that includes the Breast Cancer Fund and the Environmental Working Group, released a report yesterday that concludes that many children's bath products contain carcinogens.

The campaign tested 28 products and found that 23 of them contained formaldehyde, which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers a probable carcinogen that may cause cancer and skin allergies. The chemical is released as preservatives break down over time in a container.

Japan and Sweden have banned formaldehyde from personal care products. Meanwhile, products with formaldehyde levels over 500 parts per million require warning labels in Europe. The U.S. government does not limit formaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, or most other hazardous substances in personal care products.

The campaign found that 32 of 48 products contained 1,4-dioxane, which the EPA also considers a probable human carcinogen. The chemical is a byproduct of processing techniques used to make petroleum-based ingredients gentler to the skin. Nearly two-thirds of the products tested contained both fermaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane.

While a single product may not be cause for concern, babies are oftentimes exposed to several products whenever they take a bath. Small exposures add up and may contribute to complications later in life.

Products tested include: Johnson's Baby Shampoo, American Girl Hopes and Dreams Shimmer Body Lotion, L'Oreal Kids Extra Gentle 2-in-1 Fast Dry Shampoo--Burst of Cool Melon, Huggies Soft Skin--Shea Butter, and Pampers Kandoo Foaming Handsoap--Magic Melon.

To read the full report, click here and to read coverage of the report in USA Today, click here.