No doubt as a parent you’ve witnessed some odd behavior from your toddler. Things like running naked after the cat brandishing salad tongs, eating miscellaneous crusty items off the kitchen floor (but refusing good food at dinner), and even drinking her own bathwater — in great big gulps, soap and all.
While I can take a reasonable guess at what was on the kitchen floor, the actual ingredients in that soapy water were a bit of a shock. An article from the Cox New Service published early in 2007 reported that up to 57 percent of all baby soaps may contain a suspected carcinogen, 1,4-dioxane.
FDA recommendations request that cosmetic companies limit the concentration of this substance to 10 parts per million or less in any given product. However, cosmetics are not regulated and compliance with this recommendation is completely voluntary.
1,4-dioxane is a known animal carcinogen, and is a known eye irritant as well as suspected of causing damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys.
You won’t find the ingredient on the product label, either. It is typically a manufacturing byproduct, thus, is not required to be listed. Ingredients that could be potentially linked to the presence of 1,4-dioxane include “sodium laureth sulfate” and ingredients that include the clauses “PEG,” “xynol,” “ceteareth,” and “oleth.” The chemical may be present in adult products like deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste and mouthwash. The concern isn’t so much the use of one product that contains the chemical compound, but the number of different products that a single person uses, all containing 1,4-dioxane.
The article quoted David Steinman, head of environmental publishing company Freedom Press. Apparently Steinman commissioned an independent lab test on various products and found some of them to be at or above the FDA recommended limit.
Products tested included ones made by Johnson and Johnson, Disney, Kimberly-Clark, and Gerber. Two of the specific products named in the article include Hello Kitty Bubble Bath with 12.3 ppm of the chemical and Johnson’s Kids Shampoo Watermelon Explosion with 10 ppm.
Once I learned this, I decided our house needed to go green along with our table. I started by changing my child’s bath soap to one that is made for infants with all natural ingredients, food grade oils, natural minerals and herbs for scent. Then, I started looking for shampoos and other products that were safer options.
The Environmental Working Group has a tool on their web site that can be used a shopping guide for personal products, everything from shampoo and soap to sunscreen and toothpaste. I refer to the list anytime I need to look for new personal care products, especially those for my child.