Lead in Diaper Rash Cream and Children’s Medicines

Problem: Ingredients in some diaper rash products and children’s anti-diarrheal medicines can be contaminated with lead. These ingredients, such as zinc oxide in diaper rash products or clay (eg, attapulgite) used in some medicines are mined, and lead contamination of the ingredients can occur. Since diaper rash products are used directly on broken skin, and medicines are ingested, even tiny amounts of lead can present serious exposure hazards.

CEH Action: Beginning in 1999, CEH tested several diaper rash products and anti-diarrheal medicines made by leading pharmaceutical companies and sold by major drugstore retailers. We filed legal action against companies whose products exposed consumers to lead, in violation of California law.

Solution: By 2003, CEH had settled cases with the leading makers and retailers of the products, requiring the companies to significantly reduce the lead content in the products and/or to pull problem products from the marketplace.


Attorney General Lockyer Announces Approval of Settlement in Major Lead Contamination Case, California Attorney General Press Release, June 26, 2003.

Settlement Gets Lead Out of Kaopectate, Los Angeles Times, June 27, 2003