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J&J To Remove Potential Toxins from All Cosmetic Products

Johnson & Johnson announced Monday it will remove potential carcinogens and other dangerous chemicals from its adult cosmetics products globally by the end of 2015.

The announcement follows the company’s November 2011 commitment to reformulate its baby products globally to remove 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde by the end of 2013. Both formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane cause cancer in animals, and formaldehyde was recently classified as a known human carcinogen by the U.S. National Toxicology Program.

J&J noted that the presence of chemicals currently within its products meet regulatory standards, and that the reformulation is in response to consumer concerns. "We've decided to phase-out or reduce certain ingredients that are safe by scientific standards and considered safe by key regulators around the world including the EU, the U.S. and China. We're doing this because we're listening to the people who rely on our products, and if they have concerns, we're committed to addressing them, as long as we can do so safely and effectively,” said Susan Nettesheim, Vice President of Product Stewardship & Toxicology for Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc.

J&J also launched a new website to share information about the ingredients in its products. will include information about how ingredients are selected and evaluated.  

“We applaud Johnson & Johnson for its leadership in committing to remove cancer-causing chemicals from its products,” said Lisa Archer, director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics at the Breast Cancer Fund, a co-founder of the campaign. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a national coalition of more than 175 nonprofit organizations, said it will launch a national campaign this week challenging L’Oréal, Proctor & Gamble, Estée Lauder, Avon, and Unilever to follow J&J’s lead and commit to removing carcinogens and other harmful chemicals from cosmetics and specify a timeline for doing so.

J&J will reformulate hundreds of cosmetics and personal care products in all the markets it serves in 57 countries around the world. The process will include:

  • Reducing 1,4 dioxane to a maximum of 10 parts per million in adult products
  • Phasing out formaldehyde-releasers in adult products
  • Limiting parabens in adult products to methyl-, ethyl- and propyl-
  • Completing phase-out of triclosan from all products
  • Phasing out Diethyl Phthalate (DEP) from all products (no other phthalates are currently used)
  • Phasing out polycyclic musks, animal-derived ingredients, tagates, rose crystal and diacetyl from fragrances

“In addition to being a real win for public health, we believe that these commitments will bode well for J&J’s bottom line, too. Consumers are simply looking for the safest products out there,” said Erin Switalski, executive director at Women’s Voices for the Earth, a co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

During the 2012 Sustainable Brands conference, Johnson & Johnson’s Senior Director for World Wide Health and Safety, Al Iannuzzi, participated in a charged debate with other industry leaders and consumer advocacy groups on the challenges and imperatives of employing greener chemistry in the marketplace.

Robert Peoples, Director of the ACS Green Chemistry Institute, recently wrote about progress in the field.

Bart King is a PR/marketing communications consultant and principal at Cleantech Communications.

Bart King is the principal and founder of New Growth Communications, a network of affiliated content producers and strategists serving clients in the emerging green economy. Follow him @bart_king and on LinkedIn.

[Read more about Bart King]

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