Settlement to remove suspected carcinogen from some cosmetics

Cocamide DEA is in shampoos, hand soaps, lotions and other cosmetics.
Cocamide DEA is in shampoos, hand soaps, lotions and other cosmetics.
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More than two dozen cosmetics manufacturers and retailers that sell cosmetics have agreed to stop making or selling products that contain a potentially carcinogenic ingredient.

The agreements settle lawsuits against 26 companies, filed by the Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health over cocamide diethanolamine, known as cocamide DEA.

It's in shampoos, hand soaps, lotions and other cosmetics. It puts the suds in soaps and emulsifies lotions. 

It also has been  found to cause cancer in test animals and it may cause cancer in humans, according to the International Agency on Research into Cancer (IARC).  

The Center for Environmental Health filed lawsuits last summer seeking to force 140 companies to either stop making or stop selling products containing cocamide DEA.  The Center has reached agreements with 26 of them, said spokesman Charles Margulis. 

RELATED: The list of companies that have settled their lawsuits, and those that have not 

Manufacturing giant Colgate-Palmolive is among the cosmetics makers that agreed to reformulate their products without cocamide DEA. Walgreens, the nation’s largest drug store chain, is among the retails that agreed to stop selling cosmetics containing the ingredient, according to the Center.

"Simply put, there is no reason why anyone should be lathering a cancer-causing chemical into their hair or their children's hair," Center research director Caroline Cox said in a statement announcing the settlements.

Settlements with 14 of the companies were finalized in Alameda Superior Court on May 2nd; the court is expected to finalize the remaining 12 pending agreements in June.

The Center for Environmental Health said it is still pursuing its lawsuits against the remaining companies it sued over cocamide DEA.