Next time you´re shopping, pay attention to the products that you´re purchasing to clean the kitchen, disinfect the bathroom or scrub the floors. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has found that, while many household cleaners are recognized to have toxic substances, other so-called “green” cleaners contain harmful ingredients as well.
The findings, included in the EWG´s Online Guide to Healthy Cleaning, reveal how various cleaning products may include toxic ingredients and could be linked to a variety of health conditions like asthma and allergic reactions. Based on the EWG, it’s the first online help guide to offer a grading system that rates 2,000 different household cleaning products on the scale from “A” to “F” on the disclosure of substances and safety of contents. These items include things like bathroom cleaners, laundry soaps and stain removers.
“Keeping the home clean shouldn´t place you and your loved ones at risk, with EWG´s new online show you won´t need to,” remarked Rebecca Sutton, an EWG senior scientist, in a prepared statement.
“Quite a few cleaning items that line store shelves are full of toxic chemicals that may wreak havoc together with your health, including many who harm the lungs. The good news is, there are many cleaning products that will get the task done without exposing you to definitely hazardous substances.”
The organization discovered that only seven percent of the 2,000 cleaners offered enough information regarding their ingredients. Over a period of 14 months, scientists at EWG looked at company websites, product labels and technical documents. Additionally they compared the substances within the cleaners to results present in various medical and scientific journals as well as international databases on substance toxicity.
While cosmetics, drugs and food products sold in the U.S. are legally required to have ingredient labels, cleaning goods are not subject to this rule. As such, the scientists learned that some companies included info on only a few of the ingredients on product labels and websites. A small number of companies only listed a few ingredients or used vague terms in describing the contents, plus some companies provided no information at all concerning the substances contained in their product.
The guide further detailed the impact cleaning products might have in the office. Based on a Forbes article by contributor Amy Westervelt, the U.S. Department of Labor´s Occupational Safety and health Administration (OSHA) requires that manufacturers provide Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) on products that could be potentially harmful in the workplace. For example, the cleaning products utilized by custodians in office buildings have to possess the data sheets. However, the products sold towards the individual consumer for at-home use don’t include the lists of ingredients.
For the research, the EWG collaborated with other organizations such as Women´s Voice for that Earth.
“Women´s Voice for the Earth is a terrific partner in our efforts to eliminate toxic chemicals from cleaning products, and that we applaud its research and advocacy on behalf of human health,” said Sutton within the statement.
The EWG hopes the online guide might be of use to consumers, and instead of using certain commercial products, the organization advises consumers to look into safer alternatives. For example, the EWG noted that folks can keep the windows open or use fans instead of air fresheners since air fresheners contain substances that can cause asthma and allergies. Another recommendation is to use a small amount of vinegar inside your washing machine rinse cycle instead of using fabric softener or dryer sheets which could exacerbate allergies, cause asthma and irritation of the lungs.
“There’s simply no excuse for companies who hide ingredients and make toxic products,” said Erin Switalski, Executive Director of Women´s Voices for the Earth. “That´s why we’re so pleased that EWG is releasing this new database. This tool will give women the information they need to vote with their pocketbooks until we’ve regulations in place that assure all products are safe.”
Some companies are already disputing the outcomes of the EWG´s guide.
“It distorts information about products,” Brian Sansoni, a representative from the American Cleaning Institute, told WebMD. “It might mislead people.”