WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) - Scientists at the Environmental Working Group say many of the household cleaners sold today contain hazardous ingredients linked to allergic reactions, asthma, and even cancer.
EWG toxicologist Johanna Congleton, PhD says, " Unfortunately, unlike other consumer products such as cosmetics or food, manufacturers of cleaning products are not required to disclose the ingredients on the label or elsewhere. "
Scientists with EWG
examined more than 2,000 household cleaners, looking for ingredients on labels, company websites and manufacturing documents.
"What we've done is we've come up with a grading system that scores products based on an A- F scale," says Congleton.
The group says their review revealed more than half of household cleaners contain ingredients known to irritate the lungs. According to EWG, only seven percent of cleaners adequately disclose their contents, and that includes some marketed as "natural" or "green."
Congleton explains: "There are no regulatory definitions of 'natural' or 'green'. So a product could list an ingredient such as a plant-based surfactant. That's a vague term and we don't really know exactly what that ingredient is."
Among the worst culprits according to EWG: Spic And Span Multi-Surface & Floor Cleaner, which contains ingredients that are banned in Europe. Tarn-X Tarnish Remover is also rated poorly by EWG, because they say it contains a 7% concentration of the chemical 'thiourea', labeled as a carcinogen in the state of California. The EWG scored nearly 15% of the products badly because of carcinogenic ingredients or impurities.
However, Brian Sansoni of the American Cleaning Institute describes the EWG's guide as a 'smear campaign.'
He says, "If you use the products properly and like you are supposed to, you can be assured that they will do what they are supposed to do and clean that surface, clean those clothes. And they [consumers] can continue to have confidence in the safety and the effectiveness of these products."
Sansoni says the industry's products undergo extensive safety tests, and if consumers want to know more about their ingredients, the information is listed in company websites. Find more information from ACI here.
Sansoni says, "There's only so much room on the label especially when you have labels that are bi-lingual and in some cases, tri-lingual. You can only fit so much information on a product label and again the most important information is the safety and usage information."
Congleton says a great alternative to any chemical household product is to use vinegar or baking soda to clean.
EWG Online Guide to Healthy Cleaning