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Health group warns against use of wet wipes with harmful ingredients

Baby Wipes
Baby Wipes

THE environment-advocate EcoWaste Coalition has called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to order the recall  of cheap wet wipes containing harmful ingredients.

The group through its chemical safety campaigner Thony Dizon made the appeal in view of the rampant and open selling in Divisoria, Manila, cheap pre-moistened wet wipes with banned preservatives and biocides.

In letters sent to the FDA, the group reported the widespread sale in Divisoria of baby wipes containing the combination preservatives methyllchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone (MCI/MIT), which are chemical compounds that can trigger allergic contact dermatitis (ACD).

Dizon disclosed that as per FDA Advisory No. 2017-006, which was reiterated through FDA Advisory No. 2018-034, methylisothiazolinone is “prohibited in leave-on products.”

As per the European Union (EU), “for leave-on cosmetic products (including ‘wet wipes’), no safe concentrations of MIT for induction of contact allergy or elicitation have been adequately demonstrated.”

“We are concerned that wet wipes containing MCI/MIT, including some products that bear Cosmetic Notification No., are still sold in the market. The continued sale of these supposedly hygiene products is disturbing as these preservatives on leave-on products is a common cause of ACD causing skin rash or lesion and other signs and symptoms,” Dizon stressed.

Dong Bang, Dong Bang Yao Baby Tender, Family Treasure Baby Tender, Sky Fire Baby Tender, and Giggley Baby Wipes, which are sold for P20-P25 per pack, listed MCI/MIT among their ingredients.

The group also reported finding “Super Soft Skin Care Wet Towel” which is being sold for P19 per pack, contains iodopropynyl butylcarbamate (IPBC) that is “banned in products intended for children under 3 years of age” in the EU.  IPBC belongs to the carbamate family of biocides.

“While the product we found is not called ‘Baby Wipes,’ its packaging contains an image of a baby, plus a ‘Triple Baby Protection’ mark, which may entice consumers to use it to clean baby’s face, hands, bottom, and genital,” said Dizon.

Product alerts issued by European governments states that “IPBC may penetrate the skin of the infant and may have an adverse effect on the function of the thyroid gland.”

To protect young consumers against ACD and other health problems due to skin exposure to MCI/MIT and IPBC, the group urged the FDA to issue the necessary public health warnings and to cause the removal of non-compliant products from store shelves nationwide.

“Consumers should carefully read the product labels, avoid wipes containing MCI/MIT and IPBC and shun those that have not been assessed by health authorities for their quality and safety,” Dizon added.

The group also advised consumers not to flush used wet wipes or throw them on streets or canals as these may clog the drainage and sewer systems, block anti-flood pumping stations, damage wastewater pumps, and add to the plastic pollution of water bodies and the oceans.