J&J yields to activists on baby-product chemicals

Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) has begun replacing potentially harmful preservatives in some of its baby products. Consumer activists apparently sparked the action.

Of particular concern to the international consumer and environmental groups of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics are 1,4-dioxane, considered a likely carcinogen, and quaternium-15, a chemical that releases formaldehyde, according to an AP report. The 1,4-dioxane is the byproduct of a process for minimizing the effect of chemicals on the skin, the report said.

J&J says it's on the case and in the next two years it expects to remove all quarternium-15 from its baby products, which number in the hundreds. The company also is reportedly requiring global suppliers to reduce traces of 1,4-dioxane to less than 4 parts per million. Most suppliers already meet that goal, according to the report.

Baby shampoo tops J&J's priority list for the removal of quarternium-15, the report said, and some versions already contain alternatives. The chemical is absent from versions of Johnson's Baby Shampoo in the U.K., Japan and South Africa, for example. Yet it remains an ingredient in the product sold in the U.S., Canadian, Chinese and Indonesian versions of the product.

Eliminating the preservatives doesn't come cheap. Johnson's Naturals baby shampoo, which contains no 1,4-dioxane, costs twice as much as the original Johnson's Baby Shampoo, according to the report.

- see the story
- here's the Campaign announcement
- and its report, Baby's Tub is Still Toxic (.pdf)