According to the Center for Environmental Health (CEH), which has sued some 150 personal-care product companies for failing to warn consumers about the presence in their products of a chemical known to California to cause cancer, 26 have agreed to remove the chemical, cocamide diethanolamine (cocamide DEA). Among those pledging to stop using it are Saks Inc., Colgate-Palmolive Co., Lush Handmade Cosmetics Ltd., and Todd Christopher International, Inc. Fourteen of the settlements have apparently been approved in Alameda Superior Court, and 12 others are expected to be finalized in June 2014.
The state added cocamide DEA, a foaming agent and thickener made by a chemical reaction between coconut oils and diethanolamine, to its Proposition 65 (Prop. 65) list in 2012, which meant that companies making products exposing consumers to the chemical were required to issue warnings that their shampoos, soaps, bubble baths, and shower gels contain a carcinogen. When CEH purchased these types of products at the end of the Prop. 65 grace period, it purportedly found products with the chemical but lacking the warnings required by law.
In a May 2014 report titled “Safer Suds: Eliminating a Cancer-Causing Chemical in Shampoos and Soaps,” CEH calls on Congress to pass the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2013 and adequately fund the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to “more effectively regulate the cosmetics industry.” CEH also calls on the industry to ensure that the 10,000 chemicals used in cosmetics and personal-care products are safe.