I read this article today, found it very disturbing and had to share (I hope you do the same). Here is a summary of the article from the EWG aka Environmental Working Group ..it is loong but I tried to highlight the important parts:
In a ground-breaking initiative to uncover the truth about toxic chemicals in common household products, the Environmental Working Group has unearthed compelling evidence that hundreds of cleaners, even some of those hyped as “green” or “natural,” can inflict serious harm on unwary users. Many present severe risks to children who may ingest or spill them or breathe their fumes.
The first edition of the EWG Cleaners Database is due for release in fall 2012. Already, our research has turned up products loaded with extremely toxic compounds banned in some countries. Some of their ingredients are known to cause cancer, blindness, asthma and other serious conditions. Others are greenwashed, meaning that they are not, as their ad hype claims, environmentally benign. Still more hide the facts about their formulations behind vague terms like “fragrance.”
Cleaners labeled “safe,” “non-toxic” and “green” can contain hazardous ingredients. There should be a law against bogus claims, but there isn’t.
Simple Green Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner. It’s labeled “non-toxic” and “biodegradable.”
• 2-butoxyethanol, a solvent absorbed through the skin that damages red blood cells and irritates eyes;
• A secret blend of alcohol ethoxylate surfactants. Some members of this chemical family are banned in the European Union. Worse, the company website instructs the user to dilute the product significantly for even the heaviest cleaning tasks. Yet it comes in a spray bottle that implies it should be sprayed full-strength. Such use would result in higher exposures.
Spic and Span Multi-Surface and Floor Cleaner. This product contains nonylphenol ethoxylate, which the state of California has banned in cleaning products manufactured after 2012. Products containing this chemical cannot be sold in the European Union. It breaks down to nonylphenol, which can disrupt the hormone system, is toxic to aquatic life and persists in the environment.
Scrubbing Bubbles Antibacterial Bathroom Cleaner & Extend-A-Clean Mega Shower Foamer. These products contain up to 10 percent DEGBE, also called brotherliness, a solvent banned in the European Union at concentrations above 3 percent in aerosol cleaners. It can irritate and inflame the lungs.
Mop & Glo Multi-Surface Floor Cleaner. It contains DEGME, also called methoxydiglycol, at up to 15 times the concentration allowed in cleaners sold in the European Union. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe says DEGME is “suspected of damaging the unborn child.”
EASY-OFF Fume Free Oven Cleaner. This spray contains 5 to 10 percent DEGBE. The E.U. bars concentrations of DEGBE greater than 3 percent because it can harm the lungs.
Drain cleaners that can burn and blind
Childproof packaging is just one clue that conventional drain cleaners are extremely dangerous.
Drano Professional Strength Kitchen Crystals Clog Remover. The label says this product can severely burn eyes and skin and cause blindness or even death (!) Drano Kitchen Crystals may remain in the drain after use, creating an extreme hazard. Using a plunger could cause caustic splashback. Pouring any other product down the drain might trigger a dangerous chemical reaction. The label warns purchasers to “keep water out of can at all times to prevent contents from violently erupting or boiling out.” Yet unsuspecting consumers have been known to store it under the sink.
Oven cleaners that emit toxic fumes
Conventional oven cleaners can contain substantial amounts of sodium or potassium hydroxide,
solve crusty, baked-on gunk. These chemicals can also burn skin, lungs and eyes.
Walmart Great Value Heavy Duty Oven Cleaner. The label warns: “Will burn skin and eyes. Avoid contact with skin, eyes, mucous membranes and clothing. Harmful if swallowed. Avoid inhaling spray mist. Wear long rubber gloves while using...” We want to use this in our oven?!
CVS/pharmacy Fume-Free Oven Cleaner. Though claiming to be “fume-free,” the label warns: “Vapor harmful... open windows and doors or use other means to ensure fresh air entry during application and drying.” The label says the product contains an unidentified substance “known to the state of California to cause cancer.”
EASY-OFF Heavy Duty Oven Cleaner Aerosol Spray. The label warns: “Warning: ...DANGER: CORROSIVE...WILL BURN EYES AND SKIN. HARMFUL IF SWALLOWED. Avoid contact with eyes, skin, mucous membranes and clothing. DO NOT ingest. Use only with adequate ventilation. Avoid breathing spray mist. Wear long rubber gloves when using...”
Ingredient labels are mandatory for food, cosmetics and drugs – but not for cleaners. Bowing to pressure from customers and to the threat of federal regulation, most companies list some ingredients on labels and websites or in worker safety information. But a few companies disclose nothing. Others may list one or a few ingredients or use vague terms like “surfactant” or “solvent.”
Target’s Up & Up. This brand’s Toilet Bowl Cleaner and Glass and Surface Wipes do not list any ingredients on the product packaging. Other products sold under the Up & Up label list only one or two ingredients or use vague terms.
Walmart’s Great Value. This store brand does not list ingredients in its Heavy Duty Oven Cleaner and lemon-scented Furniture Polish, despite the company’s commitment “to sell products that sustain people and the environment.” Other items sold under the Great Value brand list few ingredients or use general terms for them.
Spray cleaners with asthma-causing ingredients
Even though 1 in 10 U.S. children suffers from asthma, some companies make spray cleaners that fill the air with asthmagens, meaning ingredients that cause asthma.
Clorox, Fantastik, Febreze, Formula 409, Easy-Off, Lysol, Mr. Clean and Spic and Span. Many of the spray cleaners sold under these brand names are laced with quaternary ammonium compounds or ethanolamine, ingredients classified as asthmagens by the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics, a professional association of clinics and health experts. These chemicals can trigger asthma attacks and can cause new cases of the disease in people who are asthma-free. Ingredients classified as asthmagens don’t belong in spray products.
100+ hidden chemicals
EWG’s 2009 state-of-the-art air pollution tests of 21 common school cleaning products turned up a wide range of air contaminants linked to asthma, cancer, reproductive toxicity, hormone disruption and neurotoxicity. Some of the worst offenders are in products also commonly used in the home:
Comet Disinfectant Cleanser Powder emitted 146 different chemicals, including some thought to cause cancer, asthma and reproductive disorders. The most toxic chemicals detected – formaldehyde, benzene, chloroform and toluene – are not listed on the label. Little is known about the health risks of most of the contaminants found.
Febreze Air Effects released 89 air contaminants.
Combatting static with toxic chemicals
Dryer sheets and anti-static sprays may free clinging fabrics and stop static sparks, but they usually do it with quaternary ammonium compounds that can irritate lungs and cause asthma as well as allergic contact dermatitis.
Static Guard contains the chemical DTDMAC, or ditallow dimethyl ammonium chloride, which is so persistent in the environment that it can’t be used as a cleaning ingredient in the European Union.
Undisclosed chemicals in the air
Air fresheners do not clean or purify the air. They merely cover up odors by releasing undisclosed mixtures of fragrance chemicals. Common fragrance components include chemicals that spur allergies, trigger asthma attacks or impair reproduction.
Lysol Neutra Air Freshmatic boasts that “your home will always smell fresh and clean” but cautions that the device should be placed “in well-ventilated rooms away from sleeping areas.” Among the label’s warnings: may be harmful if directly inhaled, may cause allergic reaction in some individuals, DO NOT spray towards face or body, DO NOT get in eyes, avoid content with skin, DO NOT spray directly onto surfaces.
Air Wick Freshmatic Compact cautions to “use in well-ventilated rooms away from sleeping areas.”
Febreze and Glade automatic air fresheners warn, “Do not use in small confined pet areas without adequate ventilation.”
To read the full article see: Environmental Working Group Hall of Shame
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These products are household name cleaners and we need to CHANGE that.
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