Formaldehyde present in many kids’ bath products, tests find

Formaldehyde, popularly associated with embalming and taxidermy and used in a variety of building products, is showing up in children’s bath products to an alarming degree, according to a report to be issued today by a local advocacy group that has gained prominence in its calls for tighter controls and bans on a range of chemicals. 
 
Healthy Legacy, an upstart associated with the Minneapolis-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, says that formaldehyde and the lesser known 1,4 dioxane are present in more than half of the children’s products tested, including Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, Sesame Street Bubble Bath, Grins and Giggles Milk & Honey Baby Washing, and Huggies Naturally Refreshing Cucumber & Green Tea Baby Wash. 
 
The group says that 23 of 28 tested products contained formaldehyde levels that exceed levels that Health Canada has reported as dangerous. The highest levels of the chemical were found in Baby Magic Baby Lotion. 

American Girl Show products had the highest levels of 1,4 dioxane of 48 products tested. The chemical also has been banned in Europe for use in personal care products. 
 
Banned by European Union
After 10 years of study, the European Union determined that high levels of formaldehyde presents a cancer risk and banned use of the chemical in September of 2007. Europe has also banned the use 1,4 dioxane in personal-care products. Japan and Sweden have banned formaldehyde in personal-care products, and Canada has placed tight controls on the substance. 
 
Healthy Legacy, which has successfully pushed for bans on other chemicals in children’s toys and other products, is backing the “Toxic-Free Kids Act,” which is moving through the Legislature. It has a power author in the Senate, Linda Scheid of Brooklyn Park; the House author is another DFLer, Kate Knuth of New Brighton. The legislation calls for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to gather information about toxic chemicals in children’s products. 
 
“The more reports that show chemicals in children’s products, the more apparent it becomes that we need policies to protect children,” Knuth said. 

Such use not limited by U.S.
Healthy Legacy spokesperson Lindsay Dahl said that the U.S. does not limit formaldehyde, 1,4 dioxane, or other hazardous substances in personal-care products.
 
“Companies are allowed to use nearly any ingredient in personal-care products with no required safety assessment,” Dahl said.
 
Formaldehyde also was the target of extended study after Katrina victims living in trailers provided by the Fedeal Emergency Management Agency complained of breathing difficulty, nosebleeds and persistent headaches. 
 
The same thing occurred in FEMA-provided trailers for victims of the 2008 floods around Cedar Rapids, Iowa, when formaldehyde in building materials was fingered as the likely culprit. 
 
Healthy Legacy has teamed with a national advocacy group, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, in calling attending to testing showing formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane in products.  Read more here.

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Fred Fuhldang on 03/12/2009 - 02:17 pm.

    This is really scary. As a father of a young daughter, I’m glad this information is coming out. Thanks Ron, and thanks Healthy Legacy for calling attention to these issues.

    It makes you wonder about all these other nasty chemicals we keep hearing about, like BPA in baby bottles. Is anybody looking at phasing that nasty little chemical out?

  2. Submitted by Peter Starzynski on 03/12/2009 - 02:52 pm.

    As someone who is considering having children in the near future I think it is absurd that these types of contaminants are still found in children’s products. Isn’t it the governments job to regulate this? A parent today has to be a chemical engineer to figure out what they are exposing their children too.

    I strongly support the Toxic Free Kids Act and I urge Senator Metzen to do the right thing and support this bill’s passage.

    Further, this policy will be good economically as regulation will spur innovation in the green jobs world of chemistry. We need to invest in this potentially robust new sector of the economy (as we all know how things are going these days). And as differenct regions (like the EU) pass strong chemical regulation people will start to buy products because they are made in those regions. We don’t want “Made in America” to mean TOXIC!

  3. Submitted by Jenni Schubert on 03/12/2009 - 10:36 pm.

    First bisphenol-a, now formaldehyde? Why isn’t the government making sure that toxic chemicals stay out of consumer products and out of our children’s bodies?

    As someone with a young niece and nephew, I’m glad that Healthy Legacy is working to make children’s products safer. We deserve to be certain the products on our shelves are safe. For this reason, I strongly support the Toxic Free Kids Act. For the health of Minnesota’s children, I urge Senator Metzen to do the same.

  4. Submitted by Sheila Johnson on 03/13/2009 - 11:19 am.

    Fred-
    Healthy Legacy is working on BPA too, check out their website.

    I agree, last year Sen. Metzen, had bills go down in his committee that would have phase out chemicals in kids products. Lets hope that doesn’t happen again….

    The toxic free kids bill seems like a great approach, lets get this crap out of our products!!!!

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