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Looking to promote the safety of your product? Tout the fact that your children’s bath and shampoo products do not contain formaldehyde. In a recent test, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found 23 children’s bath products that that may cause cancer and skin allergies. Another product, 1,4-dioxane, was found in 32 of 48 products. The EPA considers 1,4-dioxane a probable human carcinogen. National media including USA Today and The Washington Post picked up on the report and giant consumer companies such as Johnson & Johnson had to turn up their PR machines to counter the negative press.

A number of environmental and health groups including the Breast Cancer Fund and the Environmental Working Group, are behind the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. They hired Analytical Sciences to perform the tests. The California lab found formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane in a wide variety of products. Among the brand names were Baby Magic, L’Oreal and  Aveeno.

A number of companies that operate in the organic sphere are already wise to the potential health threats. USA Today reported that Earth Friendly Products, Life Tree, Nature’s Gate, Planet Ultra and Seventh Generation have all reduced levels of 1,4-dioxane since the previous Campaign report. A representative for Whole Foods told the paper that it was reformulating its 365 Everyday Value products to be free of 1,4-dioxane by July.

The European Union has banned 1,4-dioxane as an ingredient in personal care products, the Post reported, and Congress may direct the FDA to take action. “The fact that we are bathing our kids in products contaminated with carcinogens shows how woefully out of date our cosmetics laws are and how urgently they need to be updated,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois told the Post. “The science has moved forward; now the FDA needs to catch up and be given the authority to protect the health of Americans.”


Joel B. Rothman represents clients in intellectual property infringement litigation involving patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, defamation, trade libel, unfair competition, unfair and deceptive trade practices, and commercial matters. Joel’s litigation practice also includes significant focus on electronic discovery issues such as e-discovery management and motion practice relating to e-discovery.