Johnson & Johnson Promises to Remove Toxins from Products

Cosmetics giant, Johnson & Johnson, just announced its promise to remove toxins from its products.

We previously wrote that Johnson & Johnson was asked to publicly commit to eliminating certain formaldehyde-releasing preservative chemicals from all its personal care products. We also recently wrote that Johnson & Johnson came under fire for its baby shampoo being found to contain two cancer-causing ingredients considered dangerous to babies. A boycott was urged and Johnson & Johnson announced it would continue to work to remove the chemicals from its baby products worldwide.

Now, after years of urging from consumer groups, the maker of some of the world’s most popular brands—Aveeno, Neutrogena, and Johnson’s Baby Shampoo—announced that it will be removing controversial chemicals from its baby and adult products by 2015, wrote WebMD.

The company says its products are safe by U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)  standards and its own tests; however, safety concerns raised about some of its more commonly used chemicals, including probable carcinogens, prompted the announcement.

Johnson & Johnson said it will reformulate hundreds of cosmetics and other personal care products it sells worldwide, confirming its commitments made last year to consumer group, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics—which was co-founded by the Environmental Working Group—as well as some 175 other nonprofit organizations, said WebMD. The groups have been lobbying cosmetics companies to stop using potentially toxic and dangerous ingredients.

Johnson & Johnson committed to, wrote WebMD, the following:

  • Reduce traces of suspected carcinogen, 1,4-dioxane, to the lowest measurable level in baby products and to below 10 parts per million (ppm) in adult products. The chemical may be found in PEG compounds, sodium myreth sulfate, and in chemicals with the words “xynol,” “ceteareth,” and “oleth.”
    Phase out formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. Johnson & Johnson noted that while it does not add formaldehyde to its products, preservatives can emit the alcohol form of formaldehyde over time. A probable carcinogen, formaldehyde can be released by quaternium 15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, and 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol (Bronopol).
    Remove parabens from baby products, using only the three deemed the safest in adult products. The most widely used preservatives in cosmetics, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics says parabens are absorbable through the skin; may affect the hormonal activity; and, according to one study, are found in breast cancer.
    Phase out bacteria-fighting triclosan from all products. Triclosan is believed to have toxic effects.
    Phase out DEP from all products. DEP is the only phthalate used in Johnson & Johnson products and has been associated with developmental delays and minimized muscular coordination in children and may adversely affect hormones.
    Phase out the following from fragrances: Polycyclic musks, animal-derived ingredients, tagetes, rose crystal, and diacetyl.

“Every beauty and baby care product from the Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies is safe and effective when used as directed,” the company stated on its web site, wrote WebMD. Lisa Archer, director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, commended Johnson & Johnson’s move in a news release and asked other companies to follow suit saying, “We call on other cosmetic giants … to meet or beat J&J’s commitments and signal they take consumer safety as seriously as their competitor.”

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