April 29, 2009

New Study: Widely Used Baby Products Contain Carcinogens

Senator Gillibrand Takes Action -- Announces New Legislation Requiring FDA to Regulate Baby Products

New York, NY - In response to a recent new study that revealed that widely used baby products such as baby shampoos and baby lotions, contain carcinogens and other harmful chemicals, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, joined by parents, doctors and advocacy groups, took action today to protect children and inform parents.  Today she unveiled new legislation she authored called "The Safe Baby Products Act," which will direct the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate and regulate the chemicals in cosmetics and personal care products marketed to and used by children.

While there are no known cases of disease directly linked to usage of these baby products, Senator Gillibrand's legislation will require the FDA to investigate the safety of these products, publicly report the findings, and establish manufacturing practices that will reduce or eliminating any harmful chemicals.

"Like many other mothers in New York, when I read the list of these products, I immediately began to worry that I had been using some of these same products for my own children," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.  "This common sense legislation will ensure that we have all the facts about the baby soap and lotions that we use on our children."

"This important legislation explicitly recognizes the unique vulnerability of infants and children to toxic chemicals in personal care products and compels government to consider this vulnerability," said Dr. Philip J. Landrigan, Professor of Pediatrics and Chairman of the Department of Community & Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

A study released last month by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics revealed that "dozens of top-selling children's bath products are contaminated with the cancer-causing chemicals" formaldehyde and 1, 4-dioxane. These chemicals are not listed as ingredients as they are byproducts of the processing.

More than two-thirds of the forty-eight products tested positive for 1,4-dioxane and more than eighty percent were found to contain formaldehyde - 17 of the products tested positive for both. 1,4 dioxane, also referred to as dioxane, is a known eye and respiratory tract irritant, and has been classified as a Group 2B carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Formaldehyde, a known skin irritant, is also a "probable carcinogen."  Most studies of the carcinogenic effects of formaldehyde have been based on inhalation, not absorption of it through the skin or ingestion. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that babies are 10 to 65 times more vulnerable to cancer-causing chemicals than adults.

The United States lags behind other countries in regulating harmful chemicals for cosmetics and personal care products. There are no safety standards for formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane in personal care products in the United States. There are also no limits on the amount of these chemicals in products or any requirement that they be listed on labels. Internationally, however, many products sold freely in the United States are either banned or restricted. The European Union has banned 1,4-dioxane from personal care products and has recalled products containing it. Formaldehyde is banned from personal care products in Japan and Sweden, and restricted in the EU and Canada (up to 2,000 ppm). The Israeli Health Ministry has stated that U.S. baby products with carcinogenic contaminants are not sold in Israel.

Immediately after reading the study upon its release, Senator Gillibrand wrote a letter to Mr. Frank M. Torti, Acting Commissioner of the FDA urging him to take action in studying these products. The full Campaign for Safe Cosmetics report is attached to this release.


Related Files