Are the products we use to clean our homes and workplaces—dish soaps, laundry detergents, disinfectants, glass cleaners, carpet cleaners, stain removers, air fresheners, all-purpose cleaners, and more—truly safe? When we breathe in a fresh scent, most of us don’t realize and the labels won’t tell us that chemicals found in some ordinary cleaning products are known or suspected to cause serious health effects including cancer.
A glance at the back of most cleaning products reveals a surprising fact: very few cleaning products include a complete list of ingredients. Federal and state laws don’t require companies to list the ingredients in cleaning products, which means we often have no idea whether a given product contains chemicals linked to breast cancer or other chronic health concerns.
While the absence of state or federally mandated ingredient disclosure makes it difficult to know what’s in a specific cleaning product, some companies voluntarily reveal ingredients on their product labels and websites. This offers insight into the kinds of ingredients used in cleaning products. Many cleaning products contain some of the same industrial chemicals used in personal care products. Some of these chemical ingredients are linked to breast cancer. These include triclosan, bisphenol A, phthalates, parabens, alkylphenols, and UV filters like benzophenones that may mimic estrogen. In addition, several ingredients used in cleaning products may include or be contaminated with chemicals linked to breast cancer. For instance, polystyrene may contain residual styrene, ingredients like nonoxynols and those with the suffix ‘–eth’ may contain residual ethylene oxide (used to make the chemicals less irritating), and fragrance can indicate the presence of dozens to potentially over 100 undisclosed ingredients.
Here’s how to protect yourself and your family from exposure to toxic chemicals present in everyday cleaning products. Read More
What’s happening in policy
BCPP just led a successful campaign to enact a California state law to require, for the first time, cleaning product ingredients to be listed on the product label and website! The law will help not only Californians, but also consumers across the country, by revealing this important information online. We also anticipate companies will make a single label to meet California’s standard, bringing ingredient labels to stores across the US. Read More
Disclosure is a critical first step, but our work is not done yet. As we at BCPP learn more about the chemicals in cleaning products, we will call on companies to remove toxic chemicals. We will also continue to work with government regulators to better protect public health.
Check out our partners in prevention who are working to raise public awareness about the importance of cleaning product ingredient disclosure.
Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy (CHANGE) Coalition, CalPIRG, Center for Environmental Health, Clean Water Action, Environmental Working Group, the Honest Company, Institute for Popular Education in Southern California (IDEPSCA), Natural Resources Defense Council, Pacoima Beautiful, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Seventh Generation, Women’s Voices for the Earth