Johnson and Johnson To Phase Out Formaldehyde, Other Harmful Chemicals, By 2015

By Amir Khan on August 18, 2012 1:30 PM EDT

Johnson and Johnson
Johnson and Johnson, maker of popular cosmetics and other toiletries, said it will remove formaldehyde and other potentially harmful chemicals from all of its products by 2015. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Johnson and Johnson, maker of popular cosmetics and other toiletries, said it will remove formaldehyde and other potentially harmful chemicals from all of its products by 2015. The company pledged to remove "chemicals of concern" from its baby products last year, but recently announced that they will remove them from all adult products as well.

Johnson and Johnson said all of its baby products will be reformulated by the end 2013, and all adult products will be reformulated by 2015.

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"We want people to have complete peace of mind when they use our products," Susan Nettesheim, vice president of product stewardship and toxicology for J&J's consumer health brands, said, according to CBS News.

Ingredients that will be removed include formaldehyde and triclosan, a soap ingredient that a recent study linked to muscle weakness and heart disease, especially in the womb.

"Early development is a time of particular vulnerability to toxic chemicals," Dr. Philip J. Landrigan, dean of global health in the department of preventive medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, told ABC News. "Minute exposures at the wrong moment in embryonic or fetal development can have devastating effects. The great complexity of early human development creates windows of vulnerability, periods of heightened sensitivity to toxic chemicals that exist only in early life and have no counterpart in adulthood."

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics called for Johnson and Johnson to remove harmful chemicals in 2009. The campaign features more than 175 nonprofit groups, and represents 1.7 million members worldwide.

"This is a good step in the right direction," Lisa Archer, the campaign's national director, told CBS News. "In terms of the cosmetic giants, Johnson & Johnson is going the furthest of any of them in removing chemicals of concern."

Johnson and Johnson launched a new website on Wednesday that tells consumers what each ingredient in their product does. This effort in transparency, Nettesheim said, will ensure consumers that the company's products are safe.

"We've heard from consumers that they want to understand more about our plans," she said. "They want more transparency."

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