America's largest retailer has announced it will phase out 10 potentially hazardous chemicals in products it carries in everything from baby shampoo and cosmetics to household cleaners.
Walmart didn't release which chemicals will be banned in its stores, but consumer groups like the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics have lobbied against phthalates, parabens, triclosan and a handful of other chemicals in recent years. It's believed these are the same chemicals Walmart will ban.
"I think its good overall," said Dr. Chip Carson of the University of Texas Health Science Center.
Carson says the move by Walmart to phase out potentially toxic chemicals is a step in the right direction.
"In the United States, we've taken the point of view that to make something be removed from contact with the public, you have to prove that it's a hazard," he explained. "Whereas in other countries of the world and in some centers of academia, we take the point of view that if there's any question, you don't use it until you prove it's safe."
Triclosan is one of those chemicals. It’s been used in antibacterial soaps and gels for decades. In animals, there's evidence it can cause birth defects and infertility; but there's nothing to show the effects in humans exposed over long periods.
Still, Proctor & Gamble has promised to remove the chemical and phthalates from all of its products by 2014.
Johnson & Johnson has vowed its products will be free of phthalates and its baby shampoos free of potentially cancer-causing chemicals (dioxin and quaternium-15)that release formaldehyde by 2015.
Now, if other companies want Walmart to sell their products, they'll have to follow suit. "I think that's great," said WalMart shopper Tina Hall. "If it's something that can hurt me or my family, why put it in there?"
Shopper Stacey Darlington agreed.
"I think that's awesome of Walmart. I may need to go buy some stock," she said.
No real deadlines have been released on when companies must remove certain chemicals. By 2015, Walmart says it will require suppliers to disclose ingredients online for items sold at its stores. In January 2016, Walmart will begin to report publicly on what progress is being made.