Testing in the northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan showed that Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo may contain the known carcinogen, formaldehyde. In 2014, Johnson & Johnson claimed to have reformulated this shampoo to remove both formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, both of which have been identified as potential carcinogens.
However, the testing done at this India-based laboratory identified trace amounts of a chemical which is believed to be formaldehyde. Two batches, specifically ‘BB58204’ and ‘BB58177’, which will be anticipated to be on the store shelves in India through 2024 were tested and came back showing they “contain harmful ingredients”. Other Indian states have been encouraged to remove these batches from store shelves.
Indian officials have previously indicated that should they find J & J is in violation of the Drugs and Cosmetics (D&C) Act of 1940, they could face criminal prosecution and face fines. J & J disputes the findings, claiming the testing methods have not been disclosed. They further indicated they are not using these chemicals in any of the Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo products.
There have been several controversies surrounding the use of formaldehyde in hair care products over the years. Some testing has shown a link between formaldehyde usage and an increased incidence of leukemia. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), formaldehyde is identified as a potential carcinogen.
Ongoing monitoring of products manufactured by Johnson & Johnson has increased, due to recent discoveries of other chemicals, including asbestos, in the company’s baby powder.
Unfortunately, it often takes years to find out about the potential dangers of products we use every day. This is not the first time, nor is it likely the last, that consumers will hear about everyday products containing dangerous chemicals.