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Posted: September 06, 2013

Carcinogenic chemical found in 98 shampoos

Check the label: Cocamide DEA is found in many popular shampoos.

By Matt Picht

Reading the ingredients on the back of the average shampoo bottle can sometimes feel like a pop quiz in biochemistry. But a new study conducted by a Californian environmental watchdog shows how important it is to pay attention to what you smear on your scalp.

According to an independent study sponsored by the nonprofit Center for Environmental Health, 98 shampoo products contained the carcinogenic chemical cocamide DEA, a form of coconut oil used as a thickener.

Last year, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment listed cocamide DEA as a carcinogenic chemical likely to cause cancer.  Although the state has not declared a specific limit for this chemical in products, the CEH claims the levels of cocamide DEA were much higher than normal limits.

The list of products with this potentially dangerous chemical include several children’s products and even one shampoo inaccurately marketed as “organic.”

The CEH filed four lawsuits against major companies selling the products, and sent legal notices to more than 100 other companies. The San Francisco Chronicle reports these lawsuits are targeting any company whose use of the banned chemical resulted in more than 1 in 100,000 chance of its consumers developing cancer.

But the companies in question won’t be facing a federal offense. The Food and Drug Administration has not banned cocamide DEA, and a 1998 test conducted by the organization did not establish a link between the chemical and an increased cancer risk. (Via Triple Pundit)

None of the companies sued by the CEH have commented on the issue.

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