Procter & Gamble to Reduce Toxic Contaminant in Herbal Essences Shampoo


Sheila Huettl, Green Patriot Working Group, 310-455-8952; 323-208-2629

Stacy Malkan, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, 202-321-6963

Andria Ventura, Clean Water Action California, 415-369-9160 x306

Alexis Baden-Mayer, Organic Consumers Association, 202-744-0853

Anaheim, CA – Today, at a press conference held adjacent to the Natural Products Expo West, the Green Patriot Working Group (GPWG), led by environmental health consumer advocate David Steinman, and the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), a watchdog group with over 850,000 members, announced that Procter and Gamble (P&G) and Steinman have reached an agreement in principle that P&G will reformulate its top-selling Herbal Essences brand to reduce levels of the carcinogenic contaminant 1,4-dioxane. The press conference also announced new 1,4-dioxane test results for twenty laundry detergents, of which notably some of the most popular mainstream brands-including Dial, Church & Dwight Co. and Procter & Gamble-had the highest levels overall.

Steinman presented a letter from counsel for P&G stating they will reformulate 18 products in P&G’s Herbal Essences line (which had tested as high as 24 parts per million) to reduce levels to or below 10 parts per million. P&G promised to complete the reformulation for 17 products before July 1, 2010 and for one product by the end of January 2011. The OCA, CSC and GPWG-all groups who have worked to increase awareness of 1,4-dioxane in consumer products-consider it a major step forward that industry giant P&G is positively addressing the problem of cumulative exposure to 1,4-dioxane from a variety of personal care and household cleaning products.

P&G’s promise of reformulation follows Steinman’s notices of intent to file a lawsuit against P&G in June, 2009 and December, 2009 regarding several P&G products. Similar lawsuits were filed against other manufacturers by the California Attorney General’s office in June 2008 for problematic levels of 1,4-dioxane found in other consumer products as established by California’s Proposition 65. The letter from P&G’s counsel states that, “[P&G] believes that each of its products, including each Herbal Essences branded product, complies fully with California’s regulatory scheme.”

Steinman and Ronnie Cummins, director of the OCA, also announced new laundry detergent test results from Steinman’s continuing study (begun in 2007) that has tested over 160 consumer products for 1,4-dioxane, which is a contaminant and therefore not listed on product labels. In 2009, Steinman tested twenty laundry detergents, including major “natural” and conventional brands. Steinman, who formerly represented the public interest on a committee at the National Academy of Sciences, talked about the problems of wastewater and groundwater contamination with 1,4-dioxane, when it comes from products such as laundry detergents.

Laundry Detergent Test Results

Conventional Brands:

Tide (P&G) – 55 ppm

Ivory Snow Gentle (P&G) – 31 ppm

Tide Free (P&G) – 29 ppm

Purex (Dial Corp) – 25 ppm

Gain 2X Ultra (P&G) – 21 ppm

Cheer BrightClean Detergent (P&G) – 20 ppm

Era 2X Ultra (P&G) – 14 ppm

Arm & Hammer (Church & Dwight Co.) – 5.0 ppm

Wisk 2X Ultra (Sun Products Corp) – 3.9 ppm

Woolite complete detergent (Reckitt Benckiser) – 1.3 ppm

All Laundry Detergent (Unilever) – 0.6 ppm

Dreft powdered detergent (P&G) – ND

Sun Burst (Sun Products Corp.) – ND

“Natural” Brands:

Planet Ultra Liquid Laundry detergent – 6.1 ppm

Mrs. Meyers Laundry detergent – 1.5 ppm

Clorox Green Works Natural Laundry detergent- ND

ECOS Laundry Detergent (Earth Friendly Products) – ND

Life Tree Laundry Liquid – ND

Method Squeaky Green Laundry Detergent – ND

Seventh Generation Free & Clear laundry detergent- ND

ppm = parts per million; ND=not detected

The independent third-party laboratory, Exova, known for rigorous testing and chain-of-custody protocols, performed all testing. The press conference was held in cooperation with The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC), a national coalition of health and environmental groups.

About 1,4-Dioxane

1,4-dioxane is generated as a byproduct of ethoxylation, a process used by some companies to provide mildness to harsh cleaning ingredients, which requires use of the cancer-causing petrochemical ethylene oxide. 1,4-dioxane is considered a chemical “known to the State of California to cause cancer” under Proposition 65, and is also suspected as a kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant and respiratory toxicant, among others, according to the California EPA. For more information, please visit

Further Resources

History of Study, Definition and Scientific References:

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics:

Environmental Working Group:

OCA/Myths and Facts about 1,4-dioxane:

Lawsuits from the CA Attorney General’s office:

Clean Water Action:…

Safe Laundry website:


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