SACRAMENTO, Calif. Jan. 25, 2013 - On Jan. 24 Procter & Gamble, makers of Tide and Tide Free & Gentle detergents agreed in a California court to significantly reduce the levels of the chemical 1,4 dioxane in its laundry products. I,4 dioxane is classified as a known carcinogen under Proposition 65 in California. Women's Voices for the Earth, the women's environmental health advocacy group that has been calling on P&G to remove the carcinogen, claimed a public health victory.
"We're glad that P&G is finally taking responsibility for this toxic contamination in their products," said WVE director of science and research, Alexandra Scranton. "It's obvious that it is possible for companies to manufacture products without 1,4 dioxane. We believe all companies should do the same to protect public health."
1,4 dioxane is a known cancer-causing chemical that has been linked in animal studies to increased risk of breast cancer. In November of 2011, WVE published the report Dirty Secrets: What's Hiding in your Cleaning Products? with independent testing results revealing 1,4-dioxane at 89 parts per million in Tide Free & Gentle and 63 ppm in Tide. Tens of thousands of people subsequently called on the company to demand they make their top-selling detergents safer by removing the chemical.
Following the report, As You Sow, an Oakland-based nonprofit organization that promotes corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy and innovative legal strategies, filed a lawsuit against Procter & Gamble for violating levels of 1,4 dioxane in their detergents without a warning label under Proposition 65, the California state law governing toxic chemical exposure in consumer products.
On Jan. 24, a Superior Court Judge signed the consent judgment on the case, resolving As You Sow's claims against P&G. In the consent judgment, P&G has agreed to reformulate its detergents to reduce levels of 1,4 dioxane to below 25 parts per million.
"When we learned that Tide Free & Gentle — a product marketed to mothers as a healthier choice for their children — contained high levels of a carcinogen, we knew women would be outraged," said Cassidy Randall, campaign and outreach manager for Women's Voices for the Earth who led the organization's campaign against the company. "Of course women expect Tide to work well. But they also expect it to do so without putting their family's health at risk. They called P&G out on that, and the company listened."
WVE member, mother of three and blogger Lori Alper began a Change.org petition in February, 2012, asking P&G to strip 1,4 dioxane from Tide detergents. The petition received more than 78,000 signatures.
"It's so gratifying to know that my petition brought more than 78,000 voices together to alert the public that Tide contained a cancer-causing chemical and motivated P&G to make a change," said Lori Alper, blogger at Groovy Green Livin. "I wanted to show people that we can make a difference when we believe in something, and I'm glad that P&G finally listened to consumers and took action to reduce 1,4-dioxane."
P&G will complete the reformulation process by September of 2013. It's unlikely that old versions of the product will remain on the shelves for long after September. Although Procter & Gamble has signed the agreement in California, the company is likely to distribute the new reformulated product nationwide.
Women's Voices for the Earth is a national organization that works to eliminate toxic chemicals that harm women's health by changing consumer behaviors, corporate practices and government policies. www.womensvoices.org
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