Parabens used as preservatives

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By Jane Kay
Environmental Health News
May 6, 2013

Parabens, widely used as preservatives in cosmetics, plastics and foods, showed up in dozens of children's products, including baby skin care lotions and wipes.

Kimberly-Clark Global Sales LLC reported them in baby grooming products, and Claire's Stores said they were in face paint, lip balm and other cosmetics. Michaels Stores reported them in water toys, and Mattel found them in dolls and soft toys. Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies Inc., Wal-Mart and Vi-Jon Inc. reported parabens in moisturizers, conditioners and skin cleansers.

Parabens are under scrutiny, and many cosmetics companies are dropping them from products. Denmark in 2011 banned parabens in children’s products but there is no regulation in the United States.

The European Union classifies the compounds as endocrine disruptors, which means they can alter hormones, and has set a maximum level for safety in health and beauty products.

They appear to be estrogenic, which means they mimic natural estrogen, which is an important hormone that controls fetal development. Researchers in England found parabens in human breast tumors in a 2004 study, raising the question whether they could cause cancer by exerting estrogenic effects on cells in the breast.

For more information on parabens in products, search the Washington state database.


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