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Johnson & Johnson Shampoo May Have Cancer Causing Chemicals, Rajasthan Drug Control Board Tests Reveal

The product has Quaternium-15 which has the ability to break down to formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.
Johnson and Johnson baby shampoo contains carcinogenic chemicals.

Image courtesy: Livemint

“No more tears” is the tag line of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) baby shampoo. It also claims that the baby shampoo is manufactured in such a way that it is as safe for babies as water. This product has been known and trusted for many years.

But things may not be as we believe. In a recent case, a random test conducted on two batches of J&J baby shampoo has found traces of a chemical called formaldehyde. The tests were conducted in Rajasthan by the drug control authority. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and used as preservative.

Interestingly, these tests were conducted just after two months when a controversy had led to another round of tests being done on J&J’s baby powder to look for the presence of cancer-causing asbestos. But production of the baby powder has resumed after government tests found no asbestos in it.

Also Read: Johnson and Johnson Aware of Presence of Cancer-causing Asbestos in its Baby Powder, Reuters Report

Raja Ram Sharma, drug controller of Rajasthan, said in his comments to NDTV, "There is presence of formaldehyde, a chemical used as a preservative. Johnson & Johnson is now claiming they have not used formaldehyde in the product, but it's showing up in the test.  We cannot tell how much percentage of formaldehyde has shown up in the test, but now since the company has challenged it, the samples will be sent for further test to a central drug laboratory.”

J&J rejected the findings of the reports saying that it has not used formaldehyde in the product. "We do not accept the interim results given to us, which mentioned that samples 'contain harmful ingredients - identification positive for formaldehyde,” a J&J spokesperson said, according to Reuters.

Ingredients in J&J Baby Shampoo

J&J’s baby shampoo comes in two varieties—the Johnson’s baby shampoo and baby shampoo with lavender.

Johnson’s baby shampoo: The ingredients list of Johnson’s baby shampoo contains- water, cocamidopropyl betaine, PEG-80 sorbitan laurate and sodium trideceth sulfate. Citric acid, PEG-150 distearate, polyquaternium-10, fragrance, and tetrasodium EDTA are also mentioned as ingredients. 

The last three ingredients are quaternium-15, yellow 10 and orange 4 respectively. Now let’s take a look at these ingredients and also the potential health hazards in these.

Yellow 10 is also called benzidine yellow, which means it's made using the carcinogenic dyes made from the notorious carcinogenic intermediate, benzidine which causes bladder cancer.

Quaternium-15 is classified as a quaternary ammonium salt and is commonly used as a preservative in cosmetics and other industrial products. It commonly causes allergic reactions and also dermatitis. Quaternium 15 can also cause irritation in skin, eyes and the respiratory tract. It is known to have caused Contact Dermatitis—a symptom of an allergic reaction. It has the ability to break down to formaldehyde which is a known carcinogen.

Johnson’s baby shampoo with Lavender: This product adds chamomile and lavender for the soothing fragrance. The ingredients list reportedly contains-- water, cocamidopropyl betaine and PEG-80 sorbitan laurate. Sodium trideceth sulfate, fragrance, PEG-150 distearate and polyquaternium-10 are also ingredients. These ingredients have tetrasodium EDTA, citric acid, violet 2 and quarternium-15—and they are reported to have allergic and dermatological issues.

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