You know it makes your living room smell like a flower garden or turns your kids’ bathroom into something bearable — but do you really know what’s inside that bottle or whether it’s safe for your family? Advocacy group Women’s Voices for the Earth is reporting there’s still a gap between what you need to know about cleaning products and what the cleaning products industry reveals. WVE reports the cleaning products industry is still failing consumers.
One issue has long been that manufacturers can declare the need for keeping trade secrets while hiding potentially harmful ingredients. This happens frequently with synthetic fragrances as well as other things in popular products. Another issue is that federal regulations on chemical safety are so relaxed that no one really has to prove a product safe before putting it on the store shelf.
WVE’s new report scolds makers of popular household cleaners for not doing enough to meet consumer demand for safer products nor giving them enough information at the point of sale to make informed decisions. Since the law doesn’t even require cleaning product manufacturers to list their ingredients on the label, consumers remain at a disadvantage. Another common concern is that people want to avoid allergy or asthma triggers, and they need complete information in order to do that.
Key critiques noted in WVE’s Deep Clean report are:
- Manufacturers should screen for contaminants or impurities.
- The safety screening process should be accountable and transparent.
- Ingredients should be listed on product labels, not just on company websites where consumers have to search for them.
- All chemicals of concern should be eliminated.
WVE commends all of the major companies listed in its report for making some progress in phasing out chemicals of concern.
However, the report notes that monoethanolamine (linked to occupational asthma) and ammonium quaternary compounds (linked to reduced fertility, developmental problems, occupational asthma) still need to be phased out of products by four different companies: Clorox, RB (formerly Reckitt Benckiser) SC Johnson & Son, Procter & Gamble.
Additionally, WVE says synthetic musks (linked to hormone disruption and found to have migrated into mothers’ breast milk) need to be eliminated from products by SC Johnson & Son as well as Procter & Gamble.
You can read more details of the Deep Clean report here.
Women’s Voices for the Earth has this mission:
Women’s Voices for the Earth amplifies women’s voices to eliminate the toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities.
Despite its progress noted in the WVE report, SC Johnson continues to be scrutinized for not being even more responsive to these concerns about product safety. You can join the WVE action here asking SC Johnson to clean up its internal Greenlist screening process for chemicals.