Toxic Déjà Vu: How CEH is eliminating a toxic chemical in personal care products…again

Nearly a decade ago, the Center for Environmental Health took legal action to eliminate the use of a cancer-causing chemical commonly found in soaps and shampoos. Last month, CEH rediscovered it in three products being sold at dollar stores. 

Needless to say, this is an alarming discovery. The chemical, called cocamide diethanolamine, or cocamide DEA, is an unnecessary ingredient added to soap products as a foaming agent. Cocamide DEA is a cancer causing chemical and it has no place in any personal care products we put in our hair and on our skin. In 2012, it was named as a carcinogen under California Proposition 65, which requires warnings for consumer products with harmful amounts of chemicals known to cause cancer.

Using Prop 65, CEH’s lawsuit brought over 120 companies to eliminate the use of cocamide DEA from their products and subsequently, the market. 

Because of CEH’s past work in this area it’s nearly impossible to find cocamide DEA in soaps sold today. That’s why its discovery in products at dollar stores, which historically serve lower-income shoppers, is both appalling and an environmental injustice. Dollar store customers have as much of a right as everyone else to safe products that are free of unnecessary harmful chemicals. 

Once again, we’re taking legal action to remedy this injustice. CEH sent notices to Family Dollar, Nuvel, and Clorox  to force them to remove and reformulate their products so that they are safer for people’s health and the environment. 

CEH has been working to transform markets and keep communities safe from toxic chemicals for over 26 years. This case of toxic déjà vu is a reminder of the rich history of this organization and the importance of CEH as a watchdog to keep families and communities safe from harmful chemical exposures.