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Johnson & Johnson Cleans Formaldehyde Out Of Baby Products, Moving To Adult Goods

Contact: 
(202)939-9141
jcoaston@ewg.org
For Immediate Release: 
Monday, January 27, 2014

Washington, D.C. – EWG executive director Heather White said that personal care products giant Johnson & Johnson has taken a major step forward by reformulating about 100 of its baby products to remove a potentially harmful chemical and to reduce levels of a second problematic substance.

“Johnson & Johnson is smart and responsible to listen to its customers, because they are overwhelmingly demanding cleaner products,” White said.  “It is showing leadership in the personal care product industry by sending a message to its competitors that it can make effective, popular products with fewer ingredients that may cause serious health problems in people.”

In a statement posted on its website earlier this month, Johnson & Johnson announced that it had met its goal “to remove formaldehyde-releasing preservatives from our baby products and reduce traces of 1,4 dioxane in all of our baby and adult care products, everywhere around the world.”   It reformulated popular baby products such as “No More Tears” shampoo without a chemical called quaternium-15, which mixes with water to release small amounts of formaldehyde as a preservative.  In 2011, the Obama administration categorized formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen. 

According to the New York Times, the company has reduced levels of 1,4 dioxane, which the federal government suspects to be carcinogenic, to “very limited trace amounts.”

Johnson & Johnson has pledged to reformulate more of its wares by next year, including removing or limiting several other toxic chemicals in baby and adult products.   Significantly, however, it is stopping short of removing all formaldehyde releasers from adult products.  Instead, it said it would “avoid use of formaldehyde releasers in adult products whenever possible.”

“Consumers should not have to hope that companies will do the right thing and avoid using potentially hazardous ingredients.”  White said.   “We need stronger chemical regulations and measures that can keep products containing such ingredients off the shelves in the first place.”

EWG’s landmark research has been at the forefront of the debate over changing the way personal care products are marketed.  EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database allows concerned consumers to see chemical ingredients in   in 74,000 personal care products.  The SkinDeep database is now available as a smartphone mobile app so shoppers can look for cleaner products while they’re standing in store aisles.