Leading Organic Products Found To Have Carcinogenic Contaminants.

March 19, 2008

Organic Consumers AssociationNow this always warms my heart…(can you sense the sarcasm?) And as much as I enjoy studies that prove companies to be trying to greenwash the public, this really does hurt as we have used a lot of these products over the last couple of years. Seems that the Organic Consumers Association did a little study on some of our favorite bath and household products and found them to contain the carcinogenic contaminant 1,4-Dioxane. Yummy!

Ethoxylation, a cheap short-cut companies use to provide mildness to harsh ingredients, requires the use of the cancer-causing petrochemical Ethylene Oxide, which generates 1,4-Dioxane as a by-product. 1,4-Dioxane is considered a chemical “known to the State of California to cause cancer” under proposition 65, and has no place in “natural” or “organic” branded personal care products. 1,4-dioxane is also suspected as a kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant and respiratory toxicant, among others, according to the California EPA, and is a leading groundwater contaminant. Although previous studies have revealed 1,4-Dioxane is often present in conventional personal care products, this new study indicates the toxin is also present in leading “natural” and “organic” branded products, none of which are certified under the USDA National Organic Program.

This last sentence is probably the most important line of this entire study. See, all the products that were deemed “unsafe” are not actually certified organic by the USDA; rather, they have a certain percentage of ingredients that allows them to call themselves “organic”…without actually being certified organic. I wrote about the difference before. So what companies made this list of products with carcinogenic ingredients?

Well, the Organic Consumers Association tested 100 so-called “green” products, ranging from dish soap to shampoo, and they found this carcinogen in products from:

  • JASON Pure Natural & Organic
  • Giovanni Organic Cosmetics
  • Kiss My Face
  • Nature’s Gate Organics
  • Whole Foods 365 Brand
  • Alba
  • Ecover

Ouch. Here is a full list in PDF form. Granted, not every product from those companies has 1,4-Dioxane in it, but still…since they are marketed as safe, natural and organic, you would think that none of their products would have 1,4-Dioxane in it, right? And I know what you are thinking now…who does that leave that actually makes a product without this carcinogen inside? The OCA says:

  • Dr. Bronner’s
  • Sensibility Soaps (Nourish)
  • Terressentials
  • Aubrey Organics
  • Dr. Hauschka

Well, that certainly is good news, because right now we have a giant bottle of Dr. Bronner’s in the shower that I use for both shampoo and body wash, and my moisturizer is from Aubrey Organics. However, I see some things on the “bad” list that my wife uses…will have to go through everything now.

Whatever you do, please do not take this as a sign to go back to using crappy products in your house. As the list proves, there are products available that actually are natural and safe…the difficult part sometimes can be picking out the good ones from the bad ones. The OCA suggests that when you are shopping for home and body care products, you search ingredient lists for the following indications of ethoxylation (which requires the use of the cancer-causing petrochemical Ethylene Oxide, which generates 1,4-Dioxane as a by-product):

“myreth,” “oleth,” “laureth,” “ceteareth,” any other “eth,” “PEG,” “polyethylene,” “polyethylene glycol,” “polyoxyethylene,” or “oxynol,” in ingredient names. In general, the OCA urges consumers to avoid products with unpronounceable ingredients.

Time to go look through our medicine cabinet. And time for these companies to either change their formulas or stop marketing themselves as being natural and organic. I hate this kind of thing.

Filed in: Organic
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Comments (9)

  1. James says:

    That stinks that these companies have gotten away with this…I hope it doesn’t affect so many that there is nothing left to buy!

  2. Erin says:

    wow, this really makes me sad, because after recently eliminating all products containing parabens from my house…i bought products from all those companies listed above and thought i was safe! now, it seems like i have no options left…i have never even heard of the safe product brands listed above. we need some sort of regulation with these ingredients that go in or on our bodies…how come these companies can get away with this? especially while calling it organic or natural?

  3. david says:

    The major problem is that companies can use the term “organic” as long as they have some organic materials in the ingredients. They cannot be certified, but they can use the term.

    That being said, the ingredients in these products are in fact natural for the most part…it’s just that some of them when combined with others create this kind of carcinogen.

    Dr. Bronners, Aubrey’s and Terressentials, at least right now, look like the safest choice!

  4. Tad says:

    That is a shame. Don’t give up on organic farmers though. You should also consider purchasing from your local farmers. Help out the local economy.

  5. Erin says:

    can anyone recommend an all natural, plant based soap/lotion/shampoo making book? im having a hard time finding one at the local bookstores…thanks!

  6. David says:

    Unfortunately Erin you might have to Amazon or a bigger bookstore rather than a local one to find a book like this. I don’t know of any, but good luck!

  7. Donna says:

    Seems to me that retail stores that “supposedly” special in carrying healthier products , ie. health food stores, Whole Foods, Wild Oats, Central Market etc. should be held somewhat accountable. Consummers go to these stores, pay more for toiletries and products because they think it’s safer and without toxins. The consumer trusts that these retail stores are only offering truly organic products, and we believed (or perhaps assumed) these stores have checked it out. I personally am printing this article and passing it on to the health food stores in my area. This is really wrong.

  8. Jason Berkes says:

    Dr. Bronner”™s soaps are great. I really wish they would use Aloe vera in them, but they are still very good and I use them daily.

    Thanks

    Jason Berkes

  9. Kali says:

    I can’t believe that you put your trust in a company to actually tell the truth. What a concept! All we seem to get these days are lies. Thank you for such a good article. I have received lots of great knowledge reading it. I just may have to re-evaluate my “organic” purchases.