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November 2, 2011

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Cancer fear over baby shampoo

BABY shampoo on sale in China made by Johnson & Johnson contains cancer-causing chemicals, an international consumer group said yesterday.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics urged shoppers to boycott the shampoo until a formaldehyde-releasing ingredient is removed from versions sold in countries including China, the United States, India and Canada.

The baby shampoo has been on sale in China for several years.

Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo sold in other parts of the world, including Britain and Sweden, does not contain the chemical preservative quaternium-15, said the coalition of consumer, health, and environmental groups.

Formaldehyde kills bacteria but has been declared a known carcinogen.

However, Johnson & Johnson insists its shampoo is safe.

"Johnson & Johnson products do not contain toxic chemicals and are all in line with government safety regulations in the regions where they're sold," said a communications official, surnamed Wang, at Johnson & Johnson's Shanghai office.

Formaldehyde is classified as a known human carcinogen by the US Department of Health and Human Services and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the consumer rights group said.

The World Health Organization, the US National Cancer Institute and the US National Toxicology Program identified a possible link between formaldehyde exposure and leukemia, it added.

In a statement, Johnson & Johnson said the preservative technologies it uses are safe and approved by authorities in the European Union and the US, as well as China and India.

In recent years, Johnson & Johnson says it has reduced the number of products containing formaldehyde-releasing preservatives by 33 percent worldwide, and in the US by more than 60 percent.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, along with 20 parents and health groups, has written to Johnson & Johnson calling for a commitment by November 15 to remove formaldehyde-releasing ingredients from children's products worldwide.

The group said it purchased and reviewed labels of Johnson's baby shampoo sold in 13 countries between July and October to see if the products contained quaternium-15.


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