Johnson & Johnson to Remove Harsh Chemicals from All Products

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Johnson & Johnson has pledged to remove certain harsh chemicals from all of the company's products for adults by 2015, according to a report by the New York Times on Wednesday. The pledge comes on the heels of a similar promise by the company to remove those same chemicals from baby products by next year.

Wednesday's announcement is the first time that a major consumer products company like Johnson & Johnson has made a promise of this nature to its customers. The promise from the company comes after years of pressure from both environmental advocates and consumer watchdog groups to remove such chemicals from their products, according to the New York Times report.

Here is some of the key information to emerge from Johnson & Johnson's new pledge on Wednesday.

* The company will primarily be targeting formaldehyde and "formaldehyde-releasing preservatives" for removal from both its adult and baby products, according to a report by Reuters. The chemical has long been suspected to cause certain cancers and allergies.

* Kenneth Cook, the head of the Environmental Working Group, one of the environmental advocacy groups that has been pressuring Johnson & Johnson and other companies to remove such chemicals from their products, told the media on Wednesday that the scope of the pledge by Johnson & Johnson is something that "we've never really seen," as quoted by Reuters.

* The Associated Press reported that a coalition of advocacy groups known as The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics first started pressuring Johnson & Johnson to remove harsh chemicals in its products back in May of 2009. The group had reportedly argued that doing so would protect the company's workers as well as consumers.

* The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics counts some 175 non-profit corporations and groups, including the Environmental Working Group, among its membership.

* On Wednesday, Johnson & Johnson launched an accompanying website,, to allow consumers to follow the company's plans and processes for making their products safer for both people and the environment.

* Susan Nettesheim, who is the vice president of product stewardship and toxicology for Johnson & Johnson's consumer health brands, told the Associated Press on Wednesday that consumers "want more transparency" when it comes to what ingredients are in the company's products.

* In addition to formaldehyde, the company is targeting 1,4 dioxane, triclosan, parabens, phthalates, and some fragrance ingredients, according to the Associated Press report.

* Along with the Johnson & Johnson brand products themselves, the pledge will extend to products manufactured by the company's other brands, including Neutrogena, Aveeno, and Clean & Clear, according to the New York Times.

Vanessa Evans is a musician and freelance writer based in Michigan, with a lifelong interest in health and nutrition issues.

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