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In one of the boldest moves toward eliminating toxins from products consumers use everyday, Wal-Mart Stores on Thursday notified its suppliers they will have to reformulate soaps, makeup and household cleaners as the world’s largest retailer begins to shed harmful chemicals from store shelves.

Wal-Mart’s new policy, announced in September but outlined in detail for the first time Thursday, signals the start of a pivot in the personal care products industry as the retailer demands higher standards of safety — oversight that the federal government doesn’t have.

Health and environmental advocates expect possibly tens of thousands of products will be reformulated to remove harmful ingredients and meet Wal-Mart’s new standards. And with Wal-Mart as their biggest customer, most manufacturers will choose to make their products safer rather than get kicked out of the big-box stores, advocates say…

Heather Somerville