Walmart announced on Thursday, September 12 that cosmetics and cleaning product suppliers will be required to eliminate ten toxic chemicals from their products if they want them to be sold in Walmart stores. Walmart will also require suppliers to disclose chemicals in cleaning products and cosmetics.
Earlier this year, Proctor & Gamble Co. announced it would eliminate phthalates and triclosan from its beauty products by 2014. Johnson & Johnson indicated in 2012 that it would eliminate both of these chemicals as well as parabens and formaldehyde from all of its personal care products worldwide.
Walmart says that it will self-monitor the reduction and elimination of these products beginning in January 2014 but will not publicly report on the progress until January 2016. While the chemicals can still be in use after that, by January 2018, products will require appropriate labeling if they contain one or more of the 10 toxic ingredients. It has not yet indicated which 10 chemicals will be on the elimination list.
I appreciate Walmart’s announcement. It’s a step in the right direction, if indeed the manufacturers of these consumer products provide honest disclosure of product ingredients and are accountable to their commitment to eliminate these toxic chemicals from their products. But the chemical industry’s own toxic data safety sheets have indicated for many years that these chemicals are toxic and cause many health issues so I’m a bit surprised that they’ve been used by “a family company” (Johnson & Johnson) and a company that says it is “touching lives. Improving life.” (Proctor & Gamble). Based on my knowledge of these products, I wouldn’t let them touch the lives of my family. Here’s why:
Phthalates have been used in household products for years. Plenty of research links them to birth defects, reproductive impairment, and even abnormal genitalia in babies.
Many cleaning products and even sponges have been treated with triclosan which is toxic to the skin and immune system.
Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that has been linked to cancers of the upper airways and possibly other forms of cancer.
Five different types of parabens—butyl-, ethyl-, isobutyl-, methyl-, and propyl- parabens are commonly-used preservatives that irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract; and have been linked to many allergic reactions. Used to extend the shelf-life of products, they are highly toxic and carcinogenic.
And these are just a few of the toxic ingredients that are found in everyday cleaning products and cosmetics.
I’m glad that Walmart is taking this initial step and hope it starts a movement away from toxic chemicals in our household products but I have to wonder why Walmart is starting this industrial self-regulation. Where are the government regulators and why have they been more concerned about self-preservation than the health of citizens?