Saturday, November 19, 2011

Toxic Shame

Imagine my shock and horror yesterday when I read about toxic chemicals in baby shampoo, from Johnson & Johnson! You know, the company that is forever advertising that they are "a family company"? Allow me to quote CTV News...

"Amid pressure from activists, Johnson & Johnson said Wednesday that it is continuing efforts to remove traces of two harmful chemicals from its baby products around the world.

An international coalition of consumer and environmental groups has been pressing J&J since May 2009 to remove two potentially cancer-causing chemicals from products including its signature Johnson's Baby Shampoo, long advertised under the slogan "No More Tears."

Read more:

Wait...cancer-causing chemicals in 'No More Tears'? Apparently the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics found that J&J had removed the two chemicals, 1, 4-dioxane and quaternium-15. This got me wondering...what did the chemicals do that warranted all this attention in the news? Quaternium-15 is a chemical that releases formaldehyde as a preservative. So it's inclusion in shampoo would potentially allow the product a longer shelf life. 1,4-dioxane has been tested on animals (shame on them!) and has been found to be a potential carcinogen. This chemical is a byproduct of ethyoxylation. Various chemicals are processed with ethylene oxide to make them more soluble and in this case, gentler on the skin that's meant to absorb said chemicals. 1,4-dioxane is the result of that process, and it's potentially cancer-causing.
Okay, so we have these two horrible chemicals that were in the most famous baby shampoo in all of North America, and they've been removed, right?
This, from the report from The Campaign For Safe Cosmetics, entitled "Baby's Tub is Still Toxic",
"In countries around the world, including Japan, South Africa and
the Netherlands, whether required by law or not, Johnson &
Johnson has moved away from formaldehyde releasers, while the
company continues to use these problematic preservatives in the
U.S., Canada, China and other markets. . .there's no reason it
can't make this shift globally."

Ok, Johnson&Johnson took these chemicals out of their baby shampoo in those other countries, but NOT North America?
Why should we in North America not be treated the same as those other countries? Money. The wonderful world of lobbyists, special interest groups and their money influence the governments of Canada and the United States far more than most people realize. Again, from the report "Baby's Tub is Still Toxic",
"The European Union has banned more than 1,100 chemicals from cosmetics because they are known or highly suspected of causing cancer, genetic mutation or reproductive harm. In contrast, the United States bans or restricts only 11 chemicals from cosmetics."
Let me assure you, Canada is never very far behind the States in these kinds of things.

Why are the companies that produce cosmetics and personal care products not required to list the ingredients? We have a right to know what we're putting on our heads, faces and bodies, and even more so with our children! How dare Johnson & Johnson continue to include these chemicals in the baby care products! Generations of consumers have trusted them with our children's skin and hair, and it's bad enough they test these products on animals, but to remove those aforementioned chemicals in just some countries, and not all of the countries that their products are sold is shameful, irresponsible and morally wrong!

At first, I thought, well, maybe another product then? Did you know J&J also produces Aveeno and Neutrogena? Johnson's "Naturals Baby" shampoo does not include 1,4-dioxane, but costs twice as much as their original "No More Tears" shampoo.

But what about the other side of this story? What does J&J have to say in their defence? Susan Nettesheim, Vice President of Product Development and Toxicology says this in an open letter to the director of the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics,
"...the level of exposure to formaldehyde, released in tiny amounts by certain preservatives to keep the products safe from contamination by bacteria, is about the same in an entire bottle of baby shampoo as a person would be exposed to by eating an apple or pear, in which it occurs naturally."

Okay, but what if we were to consider the amount of shampoo we use on our babies and toddlers until they're old enough to use adult shampoo? And what if we consider the amount of chemicals we're exposed to in all other aspects of our lives, through food, plastics covering our food and in our cookware and eating utensils, and so on. A company as large as Johnson & Johnson's should take a proactive and leading role now to get rid of harmful chemicals from all their baby products. Think of the potential advertising possibilities when they can one day claim no harmful chemicals, for a reasonable price and a true concern for their loyal customers. Brand loyalty is everything in today's market, and if a company does not have consumer loyalty, they're in trouble.

My advice for you, do your research and start learning what you're putting on your hair, under your arms, on your faces and in your mouths. Want to know why our kids are suffering from a wider range of allergies? Why the number of cases of all kinds of cancer are on the rise? Why more and more of us suffer with environmental allergies? Why more of us than ever have breathing ailments? Learn what is in the products you eat, clean with, use on our bodies and live with. (Once you find out what's in your carpets, you'll want to tear it all up)
Take a stand against chemicals that these companies are shoving at us.
Take a proactive role, but be warned, you're in for a nasty shock when you start educating yourself.