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Labeled as Green or Organic, Found to Be Toxic or Hazardous

Consumer product safety commission organic product safety

What is green, really?

A study from the University of Washington finds that commonly used scented products — often the “green” or “all natural” ones, contain chemicals considered toxic or hazardous by federal law.

The researchers tested products they say were widely-used (often best-selling) laundry soaps and dryer sheets, air fresheners, deodorant and shampoos, disinfectants, and all-purpose sprays.

They found that more than a third of the products emitted at least one chemical considered to be a probable carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The ones labeled “green” or “organic” were just as likely to be toxic.

How could green be so icky? Easy…

Product manufacturers are not required to include ingredient lists for laundry products or cleaning supplies — all regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Personal products are regulated by the FDA. And neither class of products is required to list ingredients in fragrances (even though fragrances can include hundreds of chemicals).

The scientists did their detective work by taking these widely-used products, putting each in a glass container and measuring the surrounding air. The most common emission was limonene (citrus scent), alpha-pinene and beta-pinene (pine scent), ethanol, and acetone, a solvent in nail polish remover.

Eleven products emitted at least one chemical thought to be a carcinogen by the EPA. These included acetaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, formaldehyde and methylene chloride.

I reported yesterday that the senate is considering a “safe chemicals” act, and they are also considering the The Household Product Labeling Act, which would require manufacturers to list ingredients on these kinds of products.

The author of the study, who is currently a visiting professor at Stanford, says to use conventional vinegar and baking soda to clean if you can, open windows for ventilation, and buy products without any fragrance.

I thought my “green” all purpose cleaner smelled to good to be true.

Image: everystockphoto/qmnonic

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