What's lurking in your baby's products?
More than half the baby shampoo, lotions, and other baby toiletries analyzed by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a health advocacy group, were found to be carcinogenic in its report No More Toxic Tub, which was released last week. Some of these products are made by the most popular, trusted brands out there, and contained one or both of these two cancer-causing chemicals: 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde. The question is: Should you be worried?
Here are some of the facts:
1. These ingredients are not listed on product labels because they are contaminants not ingredients and so they're not governed by labeling laws.
2. The ingredients were found in trace levels.
3. The ingredients were found in products that seem safe because they are labeled with words like "pure" and "gentle."
4. Manufacturers can easily remove these chemicals, but they're under no legal obligation to do so.
Is using one product containing these ingredients going to harm your baby? Probably not. But according to Stacey Malkan, the co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, if you use many products on your baby several times a week for years, all of those exposures can add up.
She says, "This information is meant to inform, not alarm. We are continually learning new things, and then we can make better choices—the onus should be on companies to fix this problem, because they already know how to fix it. In the meantime, we can reduce chemical hazards in our home by choosing safer products. But we can't just shop our way out of this problem, we also need to change the laws so parents can stop worrying about this stuff. In the absence of full information about chemical risks, the only prudent course is to take a precautionary approach and avoid these chemicals. There is absolutely no reason for baby shampoo to contain known carcinogens."
What can you do if you're worried? Here's what the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics recommends:
1. Simplify. Select products with fewer ingredients and no synthetic fragrance or dyes, and use fewer products overall.
2. Choose safety. Search the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) cosmetic safety database, Skin Deep, to learn more about the products you use and find safer alternatives. Also check out EWG's Safety Guide to Children's Personal Care Products.
3. Read labels. Select products for baby and yourself that don't contain these ingredients: quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea, PEG-100 stearate, sodium laureth sulfate, polyethylene and ceteareth-20.
Are you concerned about the ingredients in your baby's products? What safety precautions do you take?