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Children's Bath Products May Not Be Safe


The nonprofit Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC) group has released a report that suggests that many top-selling children’s bath products may not be safe despite marketing claims from the companies.

The report, "No More Toxic Tub," reports the results of a study of children’s bath products for the cancer causing chemicals formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane. Using an independent laboratory for the testing, 48 products were tested for 1,4 dioxane and 28 or those were tested for formaldehyde.

The testing found both chemicals were present in far too many of the products. Seventeen of 28 products (61%) contained both chemicals. Twenty-three of the 28 products (82%) tested for formaldehyde contained levels ranging from 54 – 610 parts per million (ppm). Thirty-two of the 48 products (67%) contained 1,4-dioxane in levels of 0.27-35 ppm.

1,4-dioxane is a petroleum-derived compound that is used intentionally in dry cleaning solvents, lacquers and automotive coolant. 1,4-dioxane also shows up in personal care products as a byproduct of some chemical manufacturing processes. One is the process by which sodium lauryl sulfate becomes sodium laureth sulfate(SLS) which is used in products that make suds, like shampoo, bubble bath and body wash.

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1,4-dioxane is a known animal carcinogen and is thought to be a human carcinogen. It is known to be a skin and lung irritant. It is strongly suspected to be toxic to the kidneys and nervous system. It also appears on California’s Proposition 65 list of substances known to cause cancer or birth defects.

Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling gas. Formaldehyde ends up in personal care products when common preservatives release the chemical over time in the container. Research studies of workers exposed to formaldehyde have suggested an association between exposure and cancers of the nasal sinuses, nasopharynx, and brain, and possibly leukemia.

It is important to notice that the products tested had very small amounts of the two chemicals tested. It is not felts that using one or two of these products at a time is a cause for concern. It is felt, but not known, that small exposures add up over time.

Here's some suggestions for safeguarding your family's health:

  • Simplify: Select products with fewer ingredients and no synthetic fragrance or dyes, and use fewer products overall.

For a complete list of products tested and the results, check here and also see them more covered here.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
National Cancer Institute (formaldehyde)
National Cancer Institute (Dioxins)