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.