Children’s Bath Products Pose a Risk

Reprinted with kind permission from the San Luis Obispo Tribune.

By Carlene Olsen, Cox News Service

WASHINGTON Some children’s bath products contain a suspected cancer-causing chemical in amounts that reach or exceed recommended limits, environmental groups charged Thursday.

Johnson and Johnson, Disney, Kimberly-Clark, and Gerber are among the makers of 15 children’s products that contain 1,4-dioxane, David Steinman, head of the environmental publishing company Freedom Press, said at a news conference.

The petroleum-derived chemical is classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a probable human carcinogen, and the National Toxicology Program considers it a known animal carcinogen, according to the Environmental Working Group, which also took part in the news conference.

In 2000, the Food and Drug Administration recommended that cosmetic companies limit the concentration of 1,4-dioxane in products to 10 parts per million. But the FDA does not regulate cosmetics, leaving companies to monitor the safety of their products on a voluntary basis.

Steinman said a study he commissioned from the West Coast Analytical Service lab in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., showed that Hello Kitty Bubble Bath, made by Kid Care, contained 12.3 ppm of 1,4-dioxane. Johnson’s Kids Shampoo Watermelon Explosion, made by Johnson and Johnson, contained the maximum recommended level of 10 ppm, he said.

In addition, two adult shampoos tested by the lab found twice the recommended level of the chemical, he said.

The Environmental Working Group, meanwhile, said it had conducted a computerized assessment of ingredients in 15,000 cosmetics and other personal care products which shows that 1,4-dioxane may be present in 57 percent of all baby soaps.

Iris Grossman, director of communications at Johnson and Johnson, said,

“It’s important to stress that all our products are within the FDA limits.” The chemical is typically a manufacturing by-product, which companies are not required to list on labels along with ingredients, said Grossman. “And our suppliers guarantee that (levels) are within the FDA limit,” she said.

At the news conference, medical experts said that bath products could be linked to other children’s health problems.

Research suggests a link between ingredients in common bath products and early puberty development in children, said Devra Davis, director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

Children’s fast-paced growth rate and porous skin increases their susceptibility to toxins that can enter the bloodstream through the skin’s surface, Davis said.

Jeanne Rizzo, executive director of the Breast Cancer Fund, said that “an increased risk of breast cancer is linked to toxic exposure that occurs in the most vulnerable period of our lives.”

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