Thursday, November 17, 2011

The J&J Formaldehyde Issue, One mama shares her thoughts.

Maybe you’re like me and you trust brand name products, especially when they’ve been around forever. I chose to use Johnson & Johnson’s baby wash/shampoo because I trusted them. Their time tested product and the trust that they’ve gained from thousands of parents around the world was good enough for me. I was wrong.

The beginning of this month a few articles and news reports started circulating around the media regarding the use dioxane and a substance called quaternium-15 that releases formaldehyde in Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. The study was completed by The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and they are urging consumers to boycott the brand. The details of the issue is that Johnson & Johnson is currently make formaldehyde-free products in other countries EXCLUDING the US, Canada and China. In response to the report J&J released a statement saying that they intend on phasing out all formaldehyde-releasing products worldwide.

Why is formaldehyde dangerous? By now should all be thinking back to eighth grade biology lab and dissecting frogs – yeah the preserving chemical for dead things (okay preservation in general) is the one and only formaldehyde! Quaternium-15 is a problem for your child (as well as you) for a few reasons:
  • The release of formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen and was declared such this past June by the US National Toxicology Program.
  • Studies conducted by reputable groups have shows that there is a link between exposure to formaldehyde and leukemia.
  • It also is a potent allergen that can cause skin rashes and irritation.
J&J did release a statement on November 1st, after The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics issued their report, stating that they are taking measures to remove all formaldehyde containing chemicals from their products. The study that was conducted by The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics was done from July 2011 to October 2011. They purchased J&J baby shampoo from 13 different countries including the US and Canada to see if any contained the chemicals discussed above. Sadly, Johnson’s Baby Shampoo in the US, Canada, Australia, China and Indonesia all contained both chemicals; while Japan, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, South Africa and the UK did not contain either chemical.

I don’t know about you but I feel a little perturbed that J&J would knowingly continue to put a dangerous chemical into my baby’s shampoo because they could simply get away with it here in the US. I’m assuming this was a cost cutting decision and unfortunately we don’t have the same kind of standards in the US regarding the chemicals that we daily place on our skin and our children’s. It’s one thing to know that you probably will get cancer from something or somewhere during your lifetime but it’s completely different to knowingly use a product daily on your child’s skin that has links to leukemia. I’ve heard the argument, “Well, we can get cancer from anything,” many times and sadly I have used it too. Little changes do make a big difference though. I’m sickened with J&J. I’ll no longer be spending my money on their product or any knock off.

Elizabeth (aka Bert) Anderson married her college sweetheart in 2005, and started her journey into motherhood in 2008 with the birth of her son.  She started blogging in 2009 as a way to keep track of her thoughts on being a first time mom, especially her struggle with postpartum depression, and as a way of reaching out to other moms who are struggling with the same things.  This June, Bert had another first in her motherhood travels - a little girl!  Even though she's newly a mother of two, Bert maintains that no matter how many children you have you will always be a "first time mom" because there's a first time for everything!  Visit her blog, at FTM. Bert is a contributor for She Thinks Media.


  1. For those of us with J&J products already in our homes, I would like to note that the Johnson's Bedtime Bath (purple bottle) does not contain Quaternium-15. The traditional yellow Johnson's Baby Shampoo does.

  2. I have been using these products sinxce my daughter was born. She was recently diagnnosed with leukemia. and beleive it or not, when i was informed aboutr this and starting talking to other parents regarding them using johnson and johnson, they all also used their products. I am beyond livid right now.

  3. So so sorry to hear about your daughter's diagnosis. That breaks my heart. I don't care that they don't use it in SOME of their products - they never should have used it in the first place since they obviously can make a product without it.