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Everyone has seen advertisements for children’s bath products that claim to be gentle and specially formulated for babies’ sensitive skin; however, according to lab tests conducted by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics these same “gentle” products often contain dangerous toxins. According to their report many baby bath products contain dangerous carcinogens like formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane. Both of these chemicals, which have been linked to cancer and skin allergies, are last thing that we want in the bath products we use on our children.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is responsible for overseeing the safety of personal care products, but the underfunded and undermanned government agency lacks the necessary authority to ensure that product are actually safe for use by consumers.

The FDA currently does not have the ability to require companies to test products for safety before they are sold, does not conduct systematic reviews of products and their ingredients, and does not set limits for common, harmful contaminants in products. Current FDA regulations also do not require contaminants to be listed on product ingredient labels, leaving consumers with no way of knowing if their products contain toxic contaminants.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ laboratory studies and subsequent report are the first to document widespread contamination of children’s products with formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 1,4-dioxane is a probable carcinogen. The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission states that “the presence of 1,4-dioxane, even as a trace contaminant, is cause for concern.” 1,4-dioxane is a byproduct of a chemical processing technique called ethoxylation used to make petroleum-based cosmetic ingredients gentler to the skin. Manufacturers can easily remove the toxic byproduct, but are not required to under federal cosmetic safety standards.

This is absolutely unacceptable. What is the point of putting a federal agency like the FDA in charge of overseeing these issues if they are not allotted the power to perform the duties necessary to ensure products are safe? Something must be done to remedy this issue. If there is formaldehyde in baby bath products labeled “gentle” I am very curious what toxins are in products that adults use.

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