SAN FRANCISCO – Procter & Gamble (P&G, NYSE: PG) will reformulate 18 shampoos in its Herbal Essences line to reduce levels of the cancer-causing chemical 1,4-dioxane, according to a preliminary agreement reached between P&G and David Steinman, founder of the Green Patriot Working Group and author of Diet for a Poisoned Planet. Product tests conducted by Steinman revealed that an Herbal Essences shampoo contained 1,4-dioxane levels of 24 parts per million (ppm).
P&G agreed to reformulate after Steinman filed a notice of intent to sue in California under Proposition 65, the state’s landmark toxics law. Prior legal actions filed by the California Attorney General against other companies indicate that the actionable level under Prop. 65 for 1,4-dioxane in personal care products is above 10 ppm.
“We’re glad Procter & Gamble is reducing the levels of carcinogenic contaminants in Herbal Essences,” said Lisa Archer, national coordinator of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics from the Breast Cancer Fund. “It’s a good step, but even more is needed to assure customers that P&G products are free of toxic chemicals.”
1,4-dioxane is considered a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a known animal carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program. It is also on California’s Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer. The Food and Drug Administration does not require 1,4-dioxane to be listed on labels of personal care products, defining it as a contaminant rather than an ingredient because it is produced during manufacturing.
“Due to inadequate regulations, consumers are in the dark about what’s really in the products they put on their bodies,” Archer said. “We need new laws that require companies to be transparent about the chemicals in their products, and to eliminate hazardous chemicals. Contaminants like 1,4-dioxane are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to problematic chemicals in personal care products.”
At a press conference on Friday, Steinman also released new analysis of 1,4-dioxane in laundry detergents. The highest levels were found in P&G brands, including Tide (55 ppm), Tide Free (29 ppm) and Ivory Snow (31 ppm).
Steinman’s product tests are part of a continuing study that has analyzed more than 150 consumer products for 1,4-dioxane. Many brands have been found to be free of the toxic contaminant.
“Clearly, it’s possible to make great products without 1,4-dioxane,” said Archer. “That’s what all companies should be doing.”
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