Sunday, August 28, 2016
EWG's "Hall of Shame" of toxic household cleaners
Keeping a clean home can help your health, but if the cleaning supplies you use are toxic, it can lead to a host of potential problems.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) looked at common household cleaners and created a "Hall of Shame" list of products that may present health risks to people who are unaware of their effects or children who ingest or spill them on themselves.
"Already, our research has turned up products loaded with extremely toxic compounds banned in some countries," the EWG wrote. "Some of their ingredients are known to cause cancer, blindness, asthma and other serious conditions. Others are greenwashed, meaning that they are not, as their ad hype claims, environmentally benign. Still more hide the facts about their formulations behind vague terms like 'fragrance.'"
The trade group, the American Cleaning Institute, calls the EWG's list a "disappointing scare campaign" and says the industry dedicates lots of resources to ensure its products' safety.
Who are the worst offenders? Keep clicking to see the Environmental Working Group's "Hall of Shame"...
Simple Green Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner
Despite being labeled "green," EWG found the cleaner contains 2-butoxyethanol, a solvent absorbed through the skin that damages red blood cells and irritates the eyes, in addition to a blend of alcohol ethoxylate surfactants. Some of the alcohol ethoxylate surfactants have been banned by the European Union.
"Worse, the company website instructs the user to dilute the product significantly for even the heaviest cleaning tasks," EWG adds. "Yet it comes in a spray bottle that implies it should be sprayed full-strength. Such use would result in higher exposures."
Spic and Span Multi-Surface and Floor Cleaner
The cleaner contains nonylphenol ethoxylate, which, when it breaks down to nonylphenol, can disrupt the hormone system. The chemical also persists in the environment and has been found toxic to aquatic life.
Products with the substance are already banned for sale in the European Union and has been barred in products manufactured in Calfornia after 2012.
Scrubbing Bubbles - Antibacterial Bathroom Cleaner & Extend-A-Clean Mega Shower Foamer.
According to the EWG, these products contain up to 10 percent DEGBE, also called butoxydiglycol, a solvent banned in the European Union at concentrations above 3 percent in aerosol cleaners. The solvent can irritate and inflame the lungs.
Mop & Glo Multi-Surface Floor Cleaner
This cleaner contains DEGME, also called methoxydiglycol. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe says DEGME is "suspected of damaging the unborn child."
The cleaner had levels of up to 15 times the concentration allowed in cleaners sold in the European Union.
DampRid Mildew Stain Remover Plus Blocker
It may contain up to 10 percent of a hazardous solvent called 2-butoxyethanol. Canada caps this chemical's use in non-aerosol cleaners at 6 percent. It also contains nonylphenol ethoxylate, prohibited in cleaners sold in the European Union.
Drano Professional Strength Kitchen Crystals Clog Remover
Drano Kitchen Crystals may remain in the drain after use and create an extreme hazard, says the EWG. Using a plunger could cause caustic splashback. Also, pouring any other product down the drain might trigger a dangerous chemical reaction.
The label does warn customers about some of the dangers, but the group says people sometimes skim over the details. A warning states the product can severely burn eyes and skin and cause blindness or even death, so parents should be cautious when children are around. Also, the label states that people should "keep water out of can at all times to prevent contents from violently erupting or boiling out." Still, many consumers place the bottles under their sink.
CVS/pharmacy Fume-Free Oven Cleaner
The bottle may say it's fume-free, but a warning label on the product states "Vapor harmful - open windows and doors or use other means to ensure fresh air entry during application and drying." The label also says the product contains an unidentified substance "known to the state of California to cause cancer."
EWG recommends to clean an oven, apply a liberal layer of baking soda, spray with water, then scrape off after eight hours.
Glade air freshener sprays
Inhalants generally have been abused by 1 in 5 American teens and are potentially fatal, according to the Alliance for Consumer Education.
Glade's air freshener spray can be abused in this way and has the warning "intentional misuse by deliberately concentrating and inhaling the contents can be harmful or fatal" on its label.
Comet Disinfectant Cleanser Powder
EWG's air pollution tests found that Comet Disinfectant Cleanser Powder emitted 146 different chemicals, including some that have been linked to cancer, asthma and reproductive disorders. The most toxic chemicals detected - formaldehyde, benzene, chloroform and toluene - are not listed on the label.
Febreze Air Effects
Febreze Air Effects released 89 air contaminants when placed under EWG's air pollution tests.
Mr. Clean, Easy-Off and Formula 409
These three products - in addition to Lysol, Fantastik, Chlorox and Febreze sprays - contained quaternary ammonium compounds or ethanolamine, ingredients classified as asthmagens by the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics.
These chemicals can trigger asthma attacks and may cause new cases of the disease in people who had been asthma-free. About 1 in 10 children suffer from asthma.
Static Guard contains the chemical DTDMAC, or ditallow dimethyl ammonium chloride, which is so persistent in the environment that it can't be used as a cleaning ingredient in the European Union.
Hagerty Liquid Jewel Clean
This jewelry cleaner contains perchloroethylene, a toxic solvent classified as "probably carcinogenic to humans" by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Tarn-X Tarnish Remover
This "Wipe & Rinse" product contains up to 7 percent thiourea, a chemical considered a carcinogen by the state of California. The company's technical information for workers says "prolonged or repeated exposure may cause reproductive and fetal effects."
Ajax, Dynamo and Fab Ultra liquid laundry detergents (Phoenix Brands)
These contain formaldehyde, also known as formalin, classified as a known human carcinogen by the U.S. government and World Health Organization. Formaldehyde can cause asthma and allergies. The company divulges the presence of formaldehyde in the product only on technical disclosures for workers, says the EWG.
Whink Rust Stain Remover
Advertised for cleaning white porcelain sinks, toilet bowls and colorfast fabrics and carpet, the fine print warns people that it "May be fatal or cause permanent damage" and "Causes severe burns which may not be immediately painful or visible."