TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Johnson & Johnson plans to remove potentially cancer-causing and other dangerous chemicals from nearly all its adult toiletries and cosmetic products worldwide within 3 1/2 years.
The health care giant late last year pledged to remove "chemicals of concern" from its baby products sold around the world after being pressed to do so for more than three years by a large coalition of health and environmental groups.
The company told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview Tuesday that it remains on track to have baby products, including its Johnson's No More Tears baby shampoo, reformulated with safer ingredients by the end of 2013. Adult products will be reformulated by the end of 2015.
"We want people to have complete peace of mind when they use our products," said Susan Nettesheim, vice president of product stewardship and toxicology for J&J's consumer health brands.
Those include Johnson's baby lotion and bath products and Desitin for diaper rash, as well as adult skin care brands including Aveeno, Neutrogena, RoC, Clean & Clear and Lubriderm. J&J, based in New Brunswick, N.J., also makes prescription drugs and medical devices.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics began pushing J&J in May 2009 to remove harsh and toxic chemicals from its brands to protect consumers and workers. The coalition includes more than 175 nonprofit groups representing about 1.7 million members, from the Environmental Working Group and Friends of the Earth to the American Nurses Association and Physicians for Social Responsibility...
Research by the Environmental Working Group found most cosmetic and personal care products - other than those from small companies in the fast-growing natural products niche - contain potentially dangerous chemicals.
The key ones in question are 1,4 dioxane and the preservative formaldehyde, which is slowly released by a chemical called quaternium-15 to kill bacteria. Both 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde are probable human carcinogens; formaldehyde also is a skin, eye and respiratory irritant.
By 2015 Johnson & Johnson will phase out those two chemicals and others of concern, including triclosan, phthalates and parabens, as well as fragrance ingredients, which aren't disclosed on product labels. However, it will allow chemicals that release formaldehyde when no safe alternative will work and is reducing levels of 1,4 dioxane to below 10 parts per million.