BABY WIPES containing a preservative prohibited in products intended for children under three years old under the Asean and European Cosmetic Directives and not properly registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are being sold by discount stores and sidewalk vendors, prompting a public warning from environmental health watchdog EcoWaste Coalition.
Market surveillance conducted by the group between August 28 and October 12 found that at least 30 brands of baby wipes and cleansing wipes being sold in the market for as low as P15 per package contain iodopropynyl butylcarbamate (IPBC), or are not notified or registered with the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).
“This is a cause for concern as these products may contain banned or restricted substances like IPBC that may cause health risk, especially for babies, who are prone to skin allergic reactions,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
The group is likewise concerned that the arbitrary disposal of wet wipes used to clean baby’s bottom, face and nose, remove make-up or keep oily skin in check may be contributing to environmental pollution.
“Carelessly thrown wipes may clog up sewerage systems and end up in canals and rivers and finally into the oceans where wipes can harm marine life,” he added.
Governments in Europe, the EcoWaste Coalition said, have taken action against IPBC-containing wet wipes marketed for children three years of age because these products pose “chemical risk.”
Since 2013, when a warning was first issued by European health authorities, public health departments in the Czech Republic, Finland, Iceland, Slovakia, Spain, and Sweden have banned 19 types of wet wipes for containing IPBC, or other chemicals listed as health risks.
In explaining the withdrawal of IPBC-containing wet wipes, the Czech Republic, for instance, stated, “IPBC may penetrate the skin of the infant and may have an adverse effect of the function of the thyroid gland.”
In New Zealand, the Ministry of Health in 2011 warned that baby wipes containing IPBC “may pose a public health risk because of their potential sensitizing and allergenic effects.”
As a precaution against potential harm to health, the group advised consumers not to patronize wet wipes containing IPBC and to consult the FDA website for products that are duly notified or registered with the agency.
Be wary of imported wet wipes with no information about their foreign manufacturers and local distributors, the group added.
The EcoWaste Coalition has already notified the FDA about the results of its latest market surveillance.
A representative from the FDA confirmed in an email that the agency had received EcoWaste Coalition’s report and was looking into the matter but had not yet issued an advisory. Confirming what the group had earlier pointed out, “Information about safe and duly registered products is available through the FDA website.”