The ecologist organisation Greenpeace yesterday said that the Austrian versions of some well-known toothpastes and baby creams contain preservatives that can cause skin rashes and make bacteria resistant to medicine, according to a report by Agence France Presse (AFP).
Greenpeace chemist Herwig Schuster called on the authorities in Austria and the rest of Europe to immediately ban the use of these substances in health and beauty products.
Speaking at a press conference in Vienna, Schuster claimed that laboratory analysis had shown that a preservative present in Johnson & Johnson's baby cream Penaten, a chemical called Methyldibromo glutaronitril (MDGN), can cause skin rashes.
He is reported as stating that the risks of this "have been known for more than 10 years. There is no justification for continuing to use this product."
According to the report, he also said that toothpastes from Procter & Gambles' 'Blend a med' and 'Mentadent' brands contained the anti-bacterial chemical triclosan, which can make bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
"Dangerous substances such as MDGN and triclosan do not belong in health products," Schuster told the press.
He also told AFP that while Greenpeace had only tested Penaten, Blend a med and Mentadent in Austria, he believe that these brands could quite possibly contain the same ingredients everywhere.
He added that Greenpeace had also found MDGN in the one of the most commonly used ointments in Slovakia, Pantenol.
Schuster said Greenpeace offices in the 15 current EU member states and candidate countries were studying the use of dangerous chemicals within the bloc in order to advise the enlarged 25-member EU on improving environmental laws.