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brands under fire

Bath & Body Works Targeted by Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

Posted by Mark J. Miller on July 21, 2011 01:00 PM

Marketing anti-bacterial soap and hand cleansers with fruity names "Tangelo Orange Twist" and "Sugar Lemon Fizz" and a promise of “spreading love, not germs” sure sound like they are sweet fun — but not if they contain an ingredient that some health and environmental groups say is bad for teenagers, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Bath & Body Works' anti-bacterial "gentle foaming hand soap" collection and related hand sanitizer line-up, a backpack sized "PocketBac" collection marketed to teens as part of a back-to-school promotion, apparently contain a chemical that is considered a dangerous (to humans, not just germs) pesticide called triclosan.

“Scientific studies have linked triclosan to hormone disruption, which could be hazardous to teenagers whose bodies are still developing,” the Times points out.

Brands including Johnson & Johnson, L’Oreal, Staples, and The Body Shop have stopped using triclosan or are in the process of eliminating it from their products, the newspaper adds.

"A chemical like triclosan that can disrupt hormones and may affect fetal growth and development does not belong in our soap," said Lisa Archer, director of the San Francisco-based Campaign for Safe Cosmetics at the Breast Cancer Fund, the Times reports. "Studies show that triclosan is no more effective at preventing illness or removing germs than soap and water."

Archer and her colleagues are lobbying Bath & Body Works to pull the anti-bacterial products and sign its triclosan-free pledge. The sanitizers, for example, are described on BBW's website:

The only customer review posted on the sanitizer page professes love for both triclosan-containing products:

The Environmental Protection Agency “is updating its 2008 assessment of triclosan based on new science showing thyroid and estrogen effects,” according to the LA Times. The chemical “has been linked to the emergence of bacteria-resistant antibiotics” and “has polluted lakes and rivers,” where the toxin has poisoned aquatic life.

Bath & Body Works, which did not respond to inquiries by the Times, hasn't posted any response or comment on the brand's website, Facebook or Twitter pages.

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