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What Product Labels Don’t Tell Us

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So, you’re a responsible parent, maybe a new parent, and you pride yourself in reading ingredients on all of the product labels for your family.  What if you found out not every ingredient is listed?  That’s right.  Another study has shown we have reason for concern about not only listed ingredients for household products, but details manufacturers are not even required to disclose.  How’s that for buyer beware?

The Silent Spring Institute has conducted a peer-reviewed study that shows endocrine disruptors and chemicals associated with asthma are still in consumer products, even when not listed on the label.  Researchers examined 213 products of several different types.  These included vinyl products, cleaners, sunscreens, cosmetics and other personal care products.  The study even looked at so-called alternative products that boast more natural formulations, and there was still some reason for concern.

Environmental scientist and study author, Dr. Robin Dodson says rules are so relaxed on cleaning products that labels tell only part of the story.  In the area of personal care products that go on our bodies, even babies’ bodies, trade secrets for things like fragrances give chemical makers a big loophole in disclosure rules.  Dodson says a typical day of washing hair, brushing teeth, doing laundry and a little house cleaning can expose the typical person to at least 19 chemicals of concern listed in the study.

“One recommendation would be just to use fewer products, just keep things simple,” suggests Dodson, who is also a new mom.  She acknowledges that shoppers shouldn’t have to be chemists or detectives to figure out what’s safe, and that some reform is needed. Silent Spring, as a science-based organization, supports efforts like the Safe Chemicals Act so that consumers can be better informed.

You can find more details about the study, including which products were tested, at the Silent Spring Institute website.  The site includes more tips on shopping and on protecting our families at home.  One tip is so simple that even Grandma would approve: clean with plain soap and water.


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