Press Release

New Study: Widely Used Baby Products Contain Carcinogens

Apr 29, 2009

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

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

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.