Many bath products contain carcinogen in Bawang shampoo
Maggie Tam and Paggie Leung
When it was reported last month that the popular Bawang shampoos had high levels of a carcinogen, the Hong Kong-listed maker said many such products contained the substance.
Tests done on 23 shampoos and 10 shower gels for sale in the city show that most do contain the cancer-causing agent 1,4-dioxane, but all met safety standards.
A local laboratory, the Hong Kong Cosmetic Technical Resources Centre, did the study after the report in Next magazine caused some concern about Bawang's shampoos, which are endorsed by celebrities Jackie Chan and Faye Wong.
One of the shower gels it tested had as many as 12.1 parts per million (ppm) of 1,4-dioxane, while three shampoos contained slightly more than 10ppm of the carcinogen. Just 10 of the 33 products contained none or less than 2ppm of the substance.
The centre did not name those products but stressed that all the samples tested contained less than 30ppm of 1,4-dioxane, as required by safety standards set by the mainland, the United States and the European Union.
Bawang said in response to the Next report that its shampoos met international standards, as they had only 10ppm of the chemical.
'The study aims to give the public an overall picture of the usage of 1,4-dioxane in shampoos and shower gels instead of focusing on testing any particular brands, so we do not reveal the product names,' Albert Leung Kwok-pan, the centre's business development executive, said.
Dr Yeung Lam-lung, adjunct associate professor of chemistry at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said the hazardous effect of the chemical 'is limited, as the contact time for skin is short during showering'.