Health groups push Johnson & Johnson on 'toxic' chemicals

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cosmetics

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC) and 40 other charitable organizations have delivered a letter to Johnson & Johnson (J&J) calling for the removal of ‘toxic’ ingredients from its products.

Signed by groups such as the American Nurses Association and Physicians for Social Responsibility, the letter urges J&J to remove formaldehyde and 1, 4-dioxane from its personal care products by the end of 2009.

Letter singles out J&J

In March the CSC raised the alarm about these ingredients, linking them to cancer and skin allergies, and pointed the finger at several leading personal care manufacturers, including J&J.

Now the campaigners have singled out J&J. Lisa Archer, national coordinator of the CSC, said: “There is no excuse for a baby shampoo marketed as ‘the number one choice of hospitals’ to contain chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer.

“As a manufacturer of trusted brands, Johnson & Johnson has a responsibility to remove carcinogens and other hazardous chemicals from its products.”

CSC said other companies are making similar products without potentially hazardous ingredients, and, in Japan, where formaldehyde is banned from cosmetics J&J is already making formaldehyde-free products.

The campaigners therefore argue that J&J should be able to reformulate its products easily to remove any potentially suspect ingredients.

Reaction from J&J

In an interview with Associated Press, J&J spokesperson Bill Price said the company takes the concerns about its products “very seriously” but has no immediate plans to remove the ingredients highlighted by the CSC. He said many regulatory agencies around the world consider the trace levels of these ingredients in its products to be safe.

The CSC report on baby care products has had a significant political impact.

Three lawsuits have been filed against J&J and other companies named in the CSC report. And earlier this month, US senator Kristen Gillibrand introduced “The Safe Baby Products Act” calling for tighter controls and regulations on the ingredients that go into baby care products.

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