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Children's bath products, including shampoos, soaps, lotions and bubble baths marketed as safe and gentle actually contain cancer causing chemicals, according to a report released by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC). The report found that widely used brands of bath products for kids contain formaldehyde and a chemical called 1,4-dioxane.
The "No More Toxic Tubs" report was based on independent testing of 48 children's bath products for 1,4-dioxane and testing of 28 products for formaldehyde. According to the National Cancer Institute, formaldehyde has been identified as causing cancer in humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and as a probable human carcinogen by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1,4 dioxane is a clear liquid that easily dissolves in water and is used in the manufacture of chemicals. The Department of Health and Human Services currently considers 1,4 dioxane as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen." The Boston Globe quotes the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission as stating that "the presence of 1,4-dioxane, even as a trace contaminant, is cause for concern."
As the Globe reports, Japan and Sweden currently ban formaldehyde from personal care products, and the European Union has banned 1,4 dioxane. Currently, the US does not limit the amount of either substance in cosmetics, including bath products for kids. Don't bother checking labels for these chemicals because US regulations currently do not require product labels to include the presence of either chemical.
The testing behind CSC's report showed that 67% of the 48 products tested for 1,4 dioxane contained the chemical in amounts 0.27 parts per million or higher. Of the 28 products tested for formaldehyde, 61% contained both formaldehyde and 1,4 dioxane, and 82% contained formaldehyde at 79 parts per million or higher.
Products containing both chemicals included: Johnson's Baby Shampoo, Baby Magic "Soft Baby Scent" Baby Lotion, Sesame Street Bubble Bath, multiple scents of Bath & Bodyworks' American Girl Real Beauty Inside and Out Shower Gels, Gerber's Grins & Giggles Milk & Honey Baby Wash, Huggies Naturally Refreshing Cucumber & Green Tea Baby Wash, Barbie Berry Sweet Bubble Bath, Dora the Explorer Bubble Bath and Tinker Bell Scented Bubble Bath, amongst others.
The highest level of 1,4 dioxane was found in Bath & Body Works' American Girl Real Beauty Inside and Out Shower Gel – Sunny Orange. The highest level of formaldehyde was found in Baby Magic "Soft Baby Scent" Baby Lotion.