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Activists call on Walgreens to remove toxic chemicals from products

Walgreens told to reduce chemicals in products.

Environmental and health advocates across the country delivered petitions with 135,000 signatures – including 3,000 from Maryland – asking Walgreens to phase out toxic chemicals in products.

Representatives from the Maryland Public Interest Research Group Foundation delivered a petition to a Walgreens at 1300 E. North Ave. in Baltimore Tuesday, saying the chemicals cause health issues, including triggering asthma in children. The group called on Walgreens to eliminate formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasers from children's personal care products it sells.

Walgreens officials said in a statement that the retailer has taken measures to reduce chemicals in products. It recently introduced a new line of household and personal care products called Ology that are free of the chemicals the activists are concerned about. Its Well Beginnings newborn, infant and toddler products are free of parabens, phthalates, quaternium 15 and similar formaldehyde donor preservatives.

The retailer, the nation's largest pharmacy chain, touted its long history of product safety and said it is also working with vendors, laboratories, non-profits and other retailers to improve the transparency of what makes up products.

Environmentalists said Walgreens needs to do more, arguing that toxic chemicals in products are linked to cancer, childhood asthma and other concerns.

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