Last week, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC) revealed that laboratory tests found that baby bath products are commonly contaminated with formaldehyde or 1,4-dioxane. The U.S. action group said these two chemicals are “linked to cancer and skin allergies

A panel of 48 products was tested to dertermine the presence of 1,4-dioxane and another batch, we also tested 28 of those products for formaldehyde. Results show that 23 out of 28 products tested (82%) contained formaldehyde, at levels ranging from 54 to 610 parts per million (ppm) while 32 out of 48 products tested (67%) contained 1,4-dioxane at levels ranging from 0.27 to 35 ppm.

The CSC notes that the European Union bans 1,4-dioxane from personal care products at any level,14, and that two tested samples contained formaldehyde at levels that would trigger warning label requirements in Europe (above 500 ppm) and subsequently calls to reform cosmetic policies “to protect people, especially babies and children, from unnecessary toxic chemical exposures”.

The Personal Care Products Council (PCPC), the US industry body, answered CSC’s allegations were “patently false,” arguing that the “levels of the two chemicals the group reportedly found are considered to be "trace" or extremely low, are well below established regulatory limits or safety thresholds, and are not a cause for health concern”.

The scare promptly bounced into China when the Nonggongshan Supermarkets Corp, who runs about 3,500 outlets in Southern China withdrew all Johson&Johnson baby-care products from its shelves, waiting for the results of investigations by the Shanghai’s Food and Drug Administration.

Shanghai’s public health authorities eventually cleared J&J products saying they found no contamination by formaldehyde, or 1,4-dioxane, in 33 products - including 14 bath or sanitary-related items - sold by the company’s Shanghai branch.

Few months ago, baby-care products also came under fire in France after scientifics said they contain potentially harmful substances.