Today Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., introduced the Cleaning Product Right-to-Know Act (H.R. 3457), which requires full disclosure on the product label of the ingredients in cleaning products used in home and commercial settings. The bill also creates a public right-to-know petition, where any person may file a petition with the Consumer Product Safety Commission alleging that a cleaning product is not in compliance with the labeling requirements of the legislation.
“The word ‘home’ should connote a sense of warmth and safety,” said Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy at the Breast Cancer Fund, which supports the bill. “But unfortunately our homes are also sources of exposure to endocrine-disrupting and cancer-causing chemicals. Representative Israel’s bill will give consumers the information they need to feel good about the products they are buying to clean their houses.”
Reps. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, and Timothy Bishop, D-N.Y., joined Israel as original co-sponsors of the legislation. Because more and more consumers are doing their shopping on the Internet, the bill will require manufacturers to make available on their websites a list of their products’ ingredients and identify any known adverse health effects of each ingredient. The bill directs the CPSC to create a website that aggregates the information disclosed on manufacturer websites, which will allow for product comparison by ingredient.
Today, Women’s Voices for the Earth released a report, “Dirty Secrets: What’s Hiding in your Cleaning Products,” which found through independent lab testing that a number of everyday cleaning products contain hidden chemicals that can be harmful to one’s health. The report found that products such as Tide Free & Gentle detergent, Clorox Clean-Up Cleaner with Bleach and Original Pine-Sol contain chemicals linked to cancer or reproductive toxicity—none of which are listed on product labels.
Current law does not require manufacturers to disclose the ingredients in cleaning products to consumers. As a result many chemicals remain hidden, particularly those that are found in fragrances. The word “fragrance” on a product label can conceal dozens of chemicals, some of which have been linked to cancer, birth defects and other adverse health effects. The International Fragrance Association lists more than 3,000 fragrance ingredients, some of them carcinogens such as benzene (and dozens of benzene derivatives), formaldehyde and styrene, in addition to chemicals that can cause reproductive harm, such as phthalates and synthetic musks.
“This legislation is just common sense,” said Nudelman. “All of us have a right to know what’s in our cleaning products.”