Formaldehyde is considered a known carcinogen (meaning "any substance or agent that tends to produce cancer") by groups such as the National Cancer Institute and the World Health Organization. Also, according to an article published in the Dermatologist, quaternium-15 is the "most common cause of cosmetic preservative allergy in the United States."
Unfortunately, Johnson and Johnson is probably aware of this issue since they have stopped using this preservative in their products in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands and Japan. This preservative is still being used in products sold in the United States, Canada, China, Indonesia and Australia. When this report came out in November, many groups advocated for a boycott of Johnson and Johnson's products. As a result, the company released a statement stating that they "have been phasing out the use of preservatives that release tiny amounts of formaldehyde to guard against bacterial contamination." Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that this preservative has been "phased out" in the United States at this time.
Naturally, after reading about this back in November, I immediately began looking at the labels of the Johnson and Johnson's baby products that I have. To my horror, the "Calming Lavender" shampoo that I had been using on my baby contained this preservative!
As you can tell by the pictures, I had used quite a bit of this stuff and it was not the first bottle that I had bought. I immediately began thinking about all of the other products that I have been using on my baby. There probably is only a small risk of something truly bad happening to my child and there have been literally thousands of people that have used this product without any adverse effects. However, why would I continue to use a product that contains this ingredient when there are many more out there which do not? Also, why would I support a company by buying their products when they selectively "clean up" their product for certain countries and not others?
The Environmental Working Group has a great database that you can use to search for baby shampoos (or lotions, soaps or sunscreen [which I mentioned in an earlier post]). The purpose of this database is to help people "find safer products with fewer ingredients that are hazardous or have not been thoroughly tested." I now go to this database when selecting products for myself and baby. I have also become more aware of reading the ingredients on a label before purchasing a product.