Toronto/San Francisco – Environmental Defence and Breast Cancer Action Montreal delivered a letter to the head of Johnson & Johnson’s Canadian subsidiaries today, urging the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies to adopt a policy to ensure safe alternatives to harmful chemicals are used in Canadian products. These Canadian organizations and more than 40 American organizations, representing one million parents, health care providers, and environmental health advocates, also signed a letter delivered to Johnson & Johnson headquarters in the United States today. The letter specifically urges the company to remove formaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, and other hazardous chemicals from personal care products by the end of 2009. 
“We hope that a company placing such a high premium on its brand will respond to the widespread consumer demand for non-toxic products,” said Aaron Freeman, Policy Director of Environmental Defence.
 A March 2009 report by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a US coalition of nonprofit women’s, environmental, health, faith, consumer, and worker organizations, found formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane in Johnson’s Baby Shampoo and other top-selling children’s bath products. Both chemicals are known to cause cancer in animals. The International Agency for Cancer Research has classified formaldehyde as “carcinogenic to humans” and 1,4-dioxane as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. Formaldehyde has also been designated as “toxic” under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act because of its health effects. The Government of Canada is currently assessing 1,4-dioxane under the Chemicals Management Plan because of its potential to induce genetic damage and cause cancer, as well as its potential for human exposure.
The chemicals were not disclosed on U.S. labels of baby products because they were not considered formal product ingredients. Formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane were also not labelled on the tested Johnson & Johnson baby products found in Canada.
Other companies are making similar products without carcinogens, and Johnson & Johnson is already making formaldehyde-free products in Japan, where the chemical is banned from cosmetics. In Canada, a formaldehyde concentration of 0.2% or less is allowed as a preservative in cosmetic products.
In response to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ “No More Toxic Tub” report, major retailers in China, Vietnam, and Singapore pulled Johnson & Johnson products off shelves. Also in response to the report, at least three class-action lawsuits pertaining to the tested products’ safety have been filed against Johnson & Johnson and other companies named in “No More Toxic Tub”.
On May 6, Forbes Magazine listed Johnson & Johnson the third most reputable company in the world.
“It is unacceptable that the products we put on ourselves and on our children every day contain cancer-causing chemicals,” said Janice Melanson, Safe Cosmetics Campaign Coordinator of Breast Cancer Action Montreal. “Johnson & Johnson, as a trusted maker of products for children, has a responsibility to remove these and other hazardous chemicals from its products.”
A copy of the letter sent to Johnson & Johnson is available on the Environmental Defence web site at www.environmentaldefence.ca.
About Environmental Defence (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence protects the environment and human health. We research solutions. We educate. We go to court when we have to. All in order to ensure clean air, clean water and thriving ecosystems nationwide, and to bring a halt to Canada’s contribution to climate change.
About Breast Cancer Action Montreal (http://www.bcam.qc.ca): Breast Cancer Action Montreal (BCAM) is a non-profit activist/advocacy group directed by women who have been sensitized to the trauma of breast cancer (affecting themselves or someone close to them) and who are committed — long-term — to erasing the disease.
 
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For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 232; (647) 280-9521 (cell)