Let this be a lesson to us all: Just because a product is labeled natural or organic doesn't mean that there's nothing in it you want to avoid.
The Organic Consumers Association released a report today that details the presence of 1,4-dioxane, a carcinogenic contaminant, in 47 of 100 so-called natural cleaning and personal care products, including such popular brands as JASON, Kiss My Face, Alba, Seventh Generation and Nature's Gate Organics. (Click here to download a list of all the contaminated products as a pdf.)
But don't look for 1,4-dioxane on the ingredient list. It's an accidental by-product of a petrochemical process used to make harsh ingredients milder. That's right -- petrochemical, as in derived from petroleum, that stuff that's causing global warming. There's a simple way to strip the carcinogen out of the finished product, but most companies don't bother.
A quick analysis of our own data reveals that 1,4-dioxane is present in 28 percent of personal care products. Baby products and anti-aging products have some of the highest levels:
1,4-dioxane is a potential contaminant in
- 55% of baby bubble baths
- 57% of baby shampoos
- 55% of baby soaps
- 43% of body firming lotions
- 37% of anti-aging lotions
- 35% of around-eye creams
OCA's tests found that no USDA or German certified organic products contained the carcinogen. In a previous report on 1,4-dioxane, EWG had this to say:
To avoid 1,4-dioxane, read ingredient labels and avoid any of the 56 cosmetic ingredients that can contain the contaminant, including "sodium laureth sulfate" and ingredients that include the clauses "PEG," "xynol," "ceteareth," and "oleth."