Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Online Database Tells You if the Cleaning Products You Bring in Your Home Are Toxic

Health + Wellness
Online Database Tells You if the Cleaning Products You Bring in Your Home Are Toxic

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a new edition of its Guide to Healthy Cleaning, an online database detailing the health hazards and environmental concerns for more than 2,500 household products. With the addition of hundreds of new products, the updated guide tells shoppers what they need to know to make healthier choices.

With the addition of hundreds of new products, the updated guide tells shoppers what they need to know to make healthier choices. Photo credit: Shutterstock

“Cleaning products expose Americans daily to chemicals linked to asthma, allergic reactions and even cancer, but no federal law or state law is in effect that requires companies to completely disclose their ingredients on the label or online,” said Nneka Leiba, EWG deputy director of research. “The guide can help consumers choose products that have greater transparency and fewer hazardous ingredients, which will help push the cleaners market toward safer products.”

The guide grades laundry detergents, dish soaps, spray cleaners and other products on the hazards associated with ingredients and disclosure of contents. EWG researchers scoured product labels and analyzed hundreds of company webpages and technical documents to give consumers the information many manufacturers would rather keep secret.

“Consumers are demanding greater transparency in labeling so they can make informed decisions,” said Samara Geller, EWG database analyst. “But we found that secrecy still prevails: more than half of the products in our database rated poorly for ingredient disclosure.”

The products analyzed for the update contained an array of hazardous chemicals. For almost a dozen products, the chemical safety data sheets required by the federal government listed benzene or formaldehyde. Long-term exposure to benzene is linked to leukemia, anemia and bone marrow damage. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, respiratory irritant and allergen.

“Mandatory ingredient labeling is already required for food, cosmetics and drugs,” said Bill Allayaud, California director of government affairs for EWG. “Consumers should have the right to the same information when it comes to cleaning products.”

Bowing to increasing pressure from customers, most companies list at least some ingredients on their labels and websites. Recently SC Johnson & Son committed to disclose fully the composition of its fragrances for three products of a new scent collection. But some companies disclose nothing and others list just one or a few of their ingredients or describe them in vague terms such as “fragrance,” “surfactant” and “solvent.”

Key findings from the updated Guide to Healthy Cleaning:

  • Only about one in seven products earned a grade of A or B, for low human and environmental toxicity and robust disclosure of ingredients. A little more than one-sixth earned a passing grade of C. The remainder—more than two-thirds—fell short, receiving a D or F.

  • Almost three-fourths contain ingredients which may have worrisome respiratory health effects. Of particular concern, such chemicals were routinely found in all-purpose spray cleaners.

  • More than one-fourth of products scored moderate to high concern because they contain ingredients linked to cancer or may contain impurities linked to cancer.

  • One-fifth of products scored moderate to high concern because they contain ingredients associated with developmental, endocrine or reproductive harm.

  • More than 10 percent of the products are corrosive, capable of permanently damaging eyes or skin.

  • Twelve percent of products use the terms “dyes,” “colorants” or “colors” instead of listing the specific chemical dyes. Two dyes that were sometimes listed are known as FD&C Yellow 5 and FD&C Red 40, which may cause allergic reactions or be contaminated with impurities known to cause cancer.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

5 Inconvenient Truths You Need to Know Before Eating Lunch

Monsanto CEO Says ‘Roundup Is Not A Carcinogen’ But 94 Scientists From Around the World Disagree

5 Toxic Ingredients in Shampoos and Conditioners You Should Avoid

Buyer Beware: You Might Be Eating Food From Cans Lined With Toxic BPA

Yves Adams / Instagram

A rare yellow penguin has been photographed for what is believed to be the first time.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Crystal building in London, England is the first building in the world to be awarded an outstanding BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method) rating and a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum rating. Alphotographic / Getty Images

By Stuart Braun

We spend 90% of our time in the buildings where we live and work, shop and conduct business, in the structures that keep us warm in winter and cool in summer.

But immense energy is required to source and manufacture building materials, to power construction sites, to maintain and renew the built environment. In 2019, building operations and construction activities together accounted for 38% of global energy-related CO2 emissions, the highest level ever recorded.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Houses and wooden debris are shown in flood waters from Hurricane Katrina Sept. 11, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Jerry Grayson / Helifilms Australia PTY Ltd / Getty Images

By Eric Tate and Christopher Emrich

Disasters stemming from hazards like floods, wildfires, and disease often garner attention because of their extreme conditions and heavy societal impacts. Although the nature of the damage may vary, major disasters are alike in that socially vulnerable populations often experience the worst repercussions. For example, we saw this following Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey, each of which generated widespread physical damage and outsized impacts to low-income and minority survivors.

Read More Show Less
A gray wolf is seen howling outside in winter. Wolfgang Kaehler / Contributor / Getty Images

Wisconsin will end its controversial wolf hunt early after hunters and trappers killed almost 70 percent of the state's quota in the hunt's first 48 hours.

Read More Show Less
Tom Vilsack speaks on December 11, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware after being nominated to be Agriculture Secretary by U.S. President Joe Biden. Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday was the lone progressive to vote against Tom Vilsack reprising his role as secretary of agriculture, citing concerns that progressive advocacy groups have been raising since even before President Joe Biden officially nominated the former Obama administration appointee.

Read More Show Less