Organic Consumers Association


Previous Page

Click here to print this page

Make a Donation!


Paraben Preservatives in Body Care Products Threaten Children's Health

>From The Independent (UK)

Children at risk from cosmetics

By Severin Carrell

May 30, 2004

Children are at greater risk of cancers and fertility problems in later
life because of the growing use of their cosmetics and toiletries, health
experts are warning.

Adolescents and the parents of young children are buying more beauty
products made for adults and toiletries such as baby wipes and bubble baths
than ever before.

Fertility experts, cancer specialists and environmentalists are becoming
alarmed by evidence that most of these products use potentially dangerous
chemicals linked to breast cancer, falling sperm counts and hormonal damage.

The World Health Organisation and European health and environment ministers
are to issue a stark warning next month. Ministers from all 25 EU member
states, including the Evironment minister Alun Michael and Health minister
Melanie Johnson from the UK, will sign a declaration calling for action to
cut children's exposure to these chemicals.

Their warnings will be backed by initiatives by Friends of the Earth and the
Women's Environmental Network.

A report by Friends of the Earth this week will accuse the UK's largest
retailers of failing to take effective action to cut down on these chemicals
in their products.

The ingredients of greatest concern include chemicals called parabens which
can affect the hormone oestrogen and were recently found in breast cancer
tissues. They are routinely used as preservatives in body lotions such
Johnson's "baby softwash" and Kandoo toilet wipes.

Other suspect additives are known as phthalates, used to soften plastics and
help carry scents in cosmetics. Banned for use in baby toys, they are linked
to lower sperm levels in men, premature breast development and allergies.

Cosmetics companies such as Boots and Johnson & Johnson insisted all their
products were very carefully formulated within strict health guidelines. But
the Cosmetics, Toiletries and Perfumes Association admitted it was likely to
phase out the use of all phthalates because of consumer concerns.