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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Activists Want Toxic Shampoo Off the Shelves

OAKLAND (CN) - Dozens of brand-name and store brand shampoos, liquid soaps and bubble baths contain toxic levels of cocamide DEA, a known carcinogen, environmentalists claim in court.

The Center for Environmental Health sued retailers Macy's, JC Penney, Kohl's and Marshalls, as well as such personal care companies as Shikai Products and Avlon Industries, in Alameda County Superior Court.

The Oakland-based non-profit alleges defendants' products contain high levels of cocamide DEA, a chemically-modified form of coconut oil used as a thickener or foaming agent in many personal care products.

Consumers are exposed to the carcinogen "through ordinary use of the products," the organization states.

"Defendants provide no warnings whatsoever about the carcinogenic hazards associated with these cocamide DEA exposures," in violation of a key provision of California's Proposition 65, it says.

Despite notices sent by plaintiff regarding the presence of cocamide DEA in defendants' products, the companies "continue to expose consumers in California, including infants and children, to cocamide DEA without clear and reasonable warnings," the complaint states.

Plaintiff seeks $2,500 per day in civil penalties against each defendant and an injunction preventing defendants from selling the specified products without a warning.

In August, the Center for Environmental Health went after Wal-Mart, Trader Joe's, Pharmaca, and Kohl's for selling cocamide DEA-containing products from Prell, Palmolive, BIOSILK, Organix, Paul Mitchell and Palmer's, among others.

"Most people believe that products sold in major stores are tested for safety, but consumers need to know that they could be doused with a cancer-causing chemical every time they shower or shampoo," said Michael Green, the group's executive director, in a press release.

Mark Todzo of San Francisco-based Lexington Law Group, as well as Center for Environmental Health counsel Rick Franco, represent plaintiff.

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