August 16, 2012 — Johnson & Johnson has announced plans to remove formaldehyde and other harsh chemicals from its personal care products by the end of 2015. The company already vowed to remove the harsh chemicals from its baby products by 2013, but the new announcement will extend that pledge to include adults products. Environmental and consumer advocacy groups have been asking the company to remove the chemicals for several years. Johnson & Johnson is the first major personal-care products corporation to remove these chemicals.
Consumer groups have performed chemical tests on dozens of children’s products, and found two chemicals of particular concern: formaldehyde and 1,4 dioxane. The chemicals are not technically an ingredient, and therefore are not listed on the ingredient labels.
Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that is released by preservatives, which are listed on the ingredient label. 1,4 dioxane is known to cause cancer in animal studies, and it is a byproduct created during the manufacturing process.
Johnson & Johnson also announced plans to eliminate phthalates, parabens, certain fragrance ingredients, and triclosan (an antibacterial ingredient that has been linked to environmental toxicity, hormonal effects, and decreased muscle movements).
Johnson & Johnson said that they will be making changes to their popular line of baby shampoos and products, skin creams, sunscreens, and acne remedies. The company also makes the Aveeno, Lubriderm, Neutrogena, and RoC skin care products.
In a statement from Lisa Archer, director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics at the Breast Cancer Fund, “This is a major victory for public health. We applaud Johnson & Johnson for its leadership in committing to remove cancer-causing chemicals from its products.” She also called on other major cosmetics companies to meet or beat the standards set by Johnson & Johnson.
Susan Nettesheim, vice president overseeing product toxicology and integrity, said “We know that all our products are safe by scientific standards and meet or exceed government regulations. Over time, though, we’ve come to realize that sometimes safety alone isn’t enough.”
Johnson & Johnson officials said that many of the changes have already been made and all of the affected ingredients will be phased out or reduced by 2015. The company has also set up a website with more information for consumers.
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