Pciture Credit: www.china.org.cn
HongKong’s Next Magazine on July 14 2010 reported samples of BaWang’s reported samples of BaWang’s anti hair-loss formula shampoo had 10 parts per million of 1,4- dioxane, a substance that may cause cancer.
The Guangzhou, southern China-based company responded to say that it wasn't harmful in small doses, and that the chemical is found in cleaning and shampoo products across the world. They reiterated that BaWang’s products comply with Chinese, Hong Kong, European Union and U.S. FDA standards, it said, and the amounts of the substance are too small to affect human health.
A July 16 statement issued by the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) said tests showed the levels 1,4-dioxane the levels of a potentially carcinogenic ingredient were within standards and posed no danger to users.
The SFDA statement said amounts of dioxane below 100 ppm were safe according to internationally agreed standards, but it did not specify the volume of dioxane in the BaWang shampoos.
Jackie Chan, the main celebrity spokesperson for BaWang reiterated that government bodies had found nothing wrong with the shampoo, made a comment about how some malicious people may be trying to harm his and BaWang's image and then
"I have always been very careful with what products I endorse. But there are some media who are specifically gunning for me and a few other artistes, I am not sure why, as though it is better that we all just died."
What is 1,4-dioxane?
1,4-Dioxane is used primarily as a solvent for chemical processing (e.g., adhesives, cleaning and detergent preparations, cosmetics, deodorant fumigants, emulsions and polishing compositions, fat, lacquers, pulping of wood, varnishes, waxes). It has also been used as a laboratory reagent; in plastic, rubber, insecticides, and herbicides; as a chemical intermediate; as part of a polymerization catalyst; and as an extraction medium of animal and vegetable oils.
1,4-dioxane may occur as a natural constituent in some foods such as chicken, meat, tomatoes, and small shrimp.
1,4-dioxane may be present in extremely small amounts in as a byproduct during the manufacturing process of certain shampoo surfactants to improve their mildness to the skin. Currently, manufacturers remove 1,4-dioxane from ethoxylated surfactants to low levels by vacuum stripping.
Is 1,4-dioxane in cosmetic products harmful?
Human exposure to 1,4-dioxane may occur by inhalation, ingestion, and dermal contact.
Because 1,4-dioxane may be found in tap water, human exposure to 1,4-dioxane may also occur during activities such as showering, bathing, and laundering.
The levels at which a chemical compound would be considered harmful in a cosmetic depend on the conditions of use (FD&C Act, section 601(a)). The 1,4-dioxane levels seen by the FDA in their monitoring of cosmetics do not present a hazard to consumers.
Concerns initially were raised in the 1970s, when studies at the National Cancer Institute found an association between1,4-dioxane and cancer in animals when 1,4-dioxane was administered in high levels in the animal feed. However, the levels in cosmetic products are far lower than those found to be harmful in feeding studies and, for the most part, the types of products in which it is found are only in contact with the skin for a short time.
As a precaution, FDA followed up with skin absorption studies, which showed that 1,4-dioxane can penetrate animal and human skin when applied in certain preparations, such as lotions. However, further research by FDA determined that 1,4-dioxane evaporates readily, further diminishing the already small amount available for skin absorption, even in products that remain on the skin for hours. (Robert L. Bronaugh, "Percutaneous Absorption of Cosmetic Ingredients," in Principles of Cosmetics for the Dermatologist, Philip Frost, M.D., and Steven Horwitz, M.D., Eds. St. Louis: The C.V. Mosby Company, 1982)
CLICK HERE for the full text on the FDA statement on 1,4-dioxane
CLICK HERE for the public health statement from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) on 1,4-dioxane and the effects of exposure to it.
The ATSDR is a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That this is latest version is dated September 2007 suggests that 1,4-dioxane has become a matter of low concern.
The fact is that 1,4-dioxane is found in numerous conventional personal care products. In fact, 1,4-dioxane may be a contaminant in cosmetics, detergents, and shampoos that contain the following ingredients (which may be listed on the product label):
- polyethylene glycol
So, if you really want to, you can avoid 1,4-dioxane by not buying products the above chemicals. Another trick – buy products that are certified USDA Organic.
Even in leave-on products like creams and lotions, the unintended 1,4-dioxane evaporates readily, further diminishing the already small amount available for skin absorption.
Contrast this with BaWang shampoos and conditioners which are wash-off products that only need to be left on the hair for a few minutes and you will realise that the fear over BaWang products is overexaggerated.