You’re probably familiar with Johnson & Johnson family products. I remember using it as a child and well into my teen years. But what I, and many people to this day didn’t know, was that their products contain cancer-causing ingredients.
Although Johnson & Johnson labels their bath products as being “baby safe,” they have recently faced lawsuits and public outrage over their baby products and the ingredients they use.
The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit environmental research organization, describes the dangers of the ingredients used in Johnson & Johnson products. These ingredients include quaternium-15 and 1,4-dioxane.
Quaternium-15 is a formaldehyde-releasing preservative, and well-known carcinogen that causes burning sensations in the eyes, nose and throat; watery eyes; wheezing; nausea; and skin irritation. Daily exposure is linked with leukaemia and brain cancer.
In fact, the North American Content Dermatitis Group considers quaternium-15 to be among the most clinically significant contact allergens in children.
Other formaldehyde-releasing chemicals used by Johnson & Johnson include DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, and diazolidinyl urea.
1,4-dioxane is another carcinogen that causes vertigo upon inhalation, as well as drowsiness, headache, anorexia, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. It also causes skin irritation upon contact. This chemical is also a by-product of ingredients like PEG-100 stearate, sodium laureate sulphate, sodium myreth sulphate, polyethylene and ceteareth-20.
Parents were shocked when a Missouri jury recently ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $72 million to the family of Jacqueline Fox, a woman who died from ovarian cancer that was linked to the use of talcum-based Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products.
Once the public became aware that these ingredients, and more, were lurking in their children’s soap and cream, parents wrote to the company demanding them to change their formulas.
In the U.S., no safety testing is required when companies are formulating new products. They’re allowed to put in whatever ingredients, and don’t even need to label every ingredient used.
As Stacy Malkan notes, “I worked with the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the coalition of health and environmental groups at the forefront of researching the ingredients used in personal care products. We sent hundreds of products to labs to find out if they contained compounds not listed on labels; many did…two years later, after we reported that Johnson & Johnson was selling formaldehyde-free versions of their baby products in Europe and other countries, the company announced they would reformulate their products worldwide to remove the ingredient and others of concern.”
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics urged consumers to boycott Johnson and Johnson until they complied.
Johnson & Johnson responded:
“We have been phasing out the use of preservatives that release tiny amounts of formaldehyde to guard against bacterial contamination. These preservative technologies, which are used widely in our industry are all safe and approved in the countries where they are sold…Over the past couple of years, we already have reduced the number of formulations globally with these ‘formaldehyde releaser’ preservatives by 33% and in the U.S. by over 60%.
We are completing this reformulation as quickly as we can safely and responsibly do so. As part of the manufacturing process, we have extensive monitoring to ensure that the amount of a trace byproduct known as “1,4 dioxane” in any of our products is well below the level that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and regulatory agencies around the world consider safe.
…We have introduced new product formulations for consumers who prefer natural products, such as JOHNSON’S® NATURAL®, a line that is 98% natural, and contains no formaldehyde releasing preservatives or traces of 1,4 dioxane.”
Although their statement is promising, this new line of baby products is too little, too late, and cost twice as much as other products produced by the company. Would you trust a company to produce safe products, when they’ve been lying for decades? I wouldn’t.
Not Only Johnson & Johnson
As a popular company, Johnson & Johnson is in the spotlight, however, many companies use harmful ingredients in their products, many of which you may use on yourself, and/or your children.
Common sources of exposure to harmful chemicals include baby lotion and shampoo, diaper cream, sunscreen, and other children’s body care products.
In fact, the Environmental Working Group states that over 82% of children are exposed every week to one or more ingredients with potential to harm the brain and nervous system. Not only that, but over 80% of children’s products that are marked as “gentle” and “non-irritating” actually contain ingredients linked to allergies and skin/eye irritation.
And while Denmark, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and the U.K. have access to safer products, Johnson & Johnson still insists on providing American families with carcinogenic-laden soaps.
Going The Natural Route
My favourite motto is that if you can’t eat it, you shouldn’t put it on your body – especially a baby’s body.
A child’s skin is 30% thinner than an adult’s. This means that children can absorb up to 10 times more chemicals from bath products than their parents. This is why it is so important to only use products that chemical and toxin-free.
One of my favourite body moisturizing products is jojoba oil, a neutral oil that absorbs well and leaves the skin feeling silky smooth. Coconut oil is also great for helping get rid of rashes. Raw Elements also makes a sunscreen that can be safely used on children and adults.
If you’re looking for a natural shampoo, the one that I use is by Sunfood Superfoods. It contains only 8 ingredients, all of which are plant-based. It is free of synthetic fragrances, petroleum, parabens, preservatives, propylene glycol, and toxins.