The Environmental Working Group has released a list of the most toxic household cleaners, some of which claim to be “green.”
Among the worst offenders:
- Mop & Glo Multi-Surface Floor Cleaner contains methoxydiglycol (DEGME), which is “suspected of damaging the unborn child” by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. DEGME levels in this product are up to 15 times higher than allowed in the European Union.
- Tarn-X tarnish remover contains up to 7 percent thiourea, which is categorized as a carcinogen by the state of California. The National Toxicology Program, an interagency federal group, says that thiourea is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”
- Simple Green Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner claims to be “non-toxic” but contains 2-butoxyethanol, a solvent absorbed through the skin that irritates eyes and may damage red blood cells. This concentrated product is sold in a ready-to-use spray bottle despite instructions to dilute, even for heavy cleaning.
- The EWG refers to Target’s Up & Up and Walmart’s Great Value brands as “mystery mixtures,” because their product labels offer little or no ingredient information.
The EWG refers to companies slapping the “green” or “natural” label on products that aren’t necessarily safe as “greenwashing.”
Other products cited for hidden hazards:
- Conventional oven cleaners with sodium or potassium hydroxide that can burn skin, lungs and eyes.
- Spray cleaners with quaternary ammonium compounds or ethanolamine, chemicals that can trigger asthma attacks and can cause new cases of the disease in people who are asthma-free.
Worried about keeping your home and family safe? Here are some possible solutions:
- For starters, following the freaking instructions and keep this stuff away from your kids. The EWG says that some cleaners “present severe risks to children who may ingest or spill them or breathe their fumes.” Keep cleaning products (even ones labeled “natural”) out of kids’ reach. If the bottle says to wear gloves, wear gloves. If the label says to only use in well-ventilated areas, open a window. As is usually the case, common sense goes a long way.
- Make your own homemade non-toxic or less-toxic cleaners on the cheap. However, be aware that homemade cleaners aren’t necessarily safe. I make my own laundry detergent, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay for kids to drink.
- Just stop cleaning. This is, obviously, the sane mom’s response. Lazy is the new green, people.
- Let Ryan Gosling do it.
(Photo Credits: Stock Photo Guy, iStockphoto; Ryan Gosling, Tom and Lorenzo. Added nonsense by Joslyn Gray for Strollerderby.)