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Parliamentary questions
24 October 2013
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 117
Marc Tarabella (S&D)

 Subject:  Baby wipes warning

The vast majority of baby wipes and cleansing lotions (94%) are potentially harmful. This is not the first time that baby wipes have been the subject of a warning. In November 2012, the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (Agence nationale de sécurité du médicament et des produits de santé /ANSM) recommended that products containing phenoxyethanol should not be used. In fact laboratory tests have shown that 26 wipes and 6 lotions out of 34 widely available products tested were full of allergenic, antibacterial or antioxidant molecules which were ‘toxic or even endocrine disruptors’. So no less than 94% of products tested were ‘potentially harmful’. Wipes used to cleanse babies compound the risk factors. They are applied several times a day to a baby’s skin which is often irritated and particularly fragile. Worse, the fact that they are not rinsed off after application has the effect of lengthening the penetration time. Also some substances suspected of being endocrine disruptors are masked behind misleading labelling.

Phenoxyethanol is a preservative with toxic effects on the liver; it is suspected of reproductive and developmental toxicity and is contained in many wipes. The toxic substances in these wipes could be particularly harmful acting as they do in the earliest stages of the child’s development.

1. Faced with these results, does the Commission intend to recommend that parents should be very vigilant, should beware of these ‘cosmetic convenience products’ and should use traditional soaps instead as they are much less harmful?

2. Does it intend to carry out its own study?

3. As a precautionary measure could it issue a Europe-wide warning about these products?

4. Should the Commission not strengthen the regulation of these types of products? In fact the concentration of toxic agents such as phenoxyethanol is made possible by the laxity of European regulation.

5. What measures does the Commission intend to take so that manufacturers put a stop to their irresponsible practices and withdraw the many dangerous substances in their products?

Original language of question: FROJ C 221, 11/07/2014
Last updated: 8 November 2013Legal notice