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Environmentalists to sue for disclosure of chemicals in cleaning products

The makers of Tide, Ajax and other common household cleansers are being asked to come clean about their ingredients. Environmental and health activists announced plans for a lawsuit to make Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and two other major firms reveal the chemical ingredients of their cleaning products and their research on their effects.

“People deserve to know whether the products they use to wash their dishes and clean their homes could be harmful,” said Keri Powell, attorney for Earthjustice, in New York. The nonprofit public-interest law firm, which specializes in pro-environment litigation, will file the lawsuit Wednesday in New York on behalf of six state and national environmental and health groups, including the Sierra Club and the American Lung Assn.

Last September, the coalition of groups sent letters to several manufacturers informing them of the little-known law and its requirement that they file semiannual ingredient and research reports with New York state’s Department of Environmental Conservation. Method and Seventh Generation were among the manufacturers that complied. Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and Church and Dwight (makers of Arm & Hammer products) all refused; Reckitt-Benckiser (which makes Woolite) did not respond.

The lawsuit invokes Article 35 of New York’s Environmental Conservation Law, a law that’s seen little action since it was passed in 1976 to combat phosphates, a family of chemicals that had been widely used in detergents until they were linked with negative human and environmental health impacts. Health issues are central to the new lawsuit as well. Many of the plaintiff groups in the new lawsuit link the chemicals in household cleaning products with asthma, skin sensitization and other human health issues, as well as reproductive problems in aquatic life.

Responding to the lawsuit in a press release issued today, the Soap and Detergent Assn. expressed "disappointment that activist groups led by Earthjustice are using an arcane New York State regulation as a way to disparage cleaning product formulators whose products are used safely and effectively by millions of people every day.” The Washington, D.C.-based trade group represents 110 cleaning product manufacturers, which together produce more than 90% of the cleaning products manufactured in the United States.

In addition to its full-disclosure requirements, the law upon which the new suit is predicated gives the Department of Environmental Conservation the authority to label products with their ingredients and ban the use of certain chemicals if the agency finds them harmful.

“The disclosure requirements this law sets out go beyond what [manufacturers] are currently required to do under any other law,” said Powell. “We’re hoping the federal government will eventually become much more aggressive about this.”

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is the federal agency charged with overseeing home cleaning products, but it doesn't require cleaning product manufacturers to provide comprehensive ingredient lists, so few companies do. And while the federal Toxic Substances Control Act was approved in 1976 to regulate the introduction of chemicals, it grandfathered in most of the existing chemicals on the market.

In California, two laws were passed in 2008 as part of the state’s “green chemistry initiative.” Together they require the state to identify “chemicals of concern," to evaluate safer alternatives and to create a scientific clearinghouse for information on chemicals' effects, but it will be years before consumers see the fruits of that legislation.

That leaves today’s consumers with little information upon which to base their cleaning product decisions except what is provided by the manufacturers.

“The cleaning product industry is committed to providing more information than ever before on cleaning product ingredients,” said Michelle Radecki, general counsel for the Soap and Detergent Assn. Radecki pointed to her group’s new Consumer Product Ingredient Communication Initiative. The voluntary program, which is scheduled to roll out in January 2010, is designed to provide more extensive ingredient information to consumers.

-- Susan Carpenter

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Nice information provided here which is very useful to everyone...I am not a huge fan of this side, there do seem to be a lot these days...thanks for posting...

This is a turn in the right direction. The most important chemicals to disclose are any and all glycol ethers. Exposure looks like 'the flu' and they cause a body to turn 'autoimmune' with subsequent health issues such as CFIDS, CFS, FM and military synromes, too. The anemia evades our doctors. Look at the red blood cells & don't rely on 'the numbers' to indicate whether or not AIHA or IMHA is there. Many prominent people are affected as well.

Here's more interesting information regarding the chemicals that are used in cleaning products and their relation to causing asthma:
Monoethanolamine (MEA), a surfactant found in some laundry detergents, all-purpose cleaners and floor cleaners and is a known inducer of occupational asthma
Ammonium quaternary compounds, disinfectants found in some disinfectant sprays and toilet cleaners that have been identified as inducers of occupational asthma
Phthalates, carriers for fragrance in glass cleaners, deodorizers, laundry detergents and fabric softners, and are linked to increased allergic symptoms and asthma in children.

Formaldehyde is in almost all cleaning products, including laundry detergents, toothpaste and shampoo.

Laundry detergents contain phosphorus, enzymes, ammonia, naphthalene, phenol, sodium nitilotriacetate and countless others. These chemicals can cause rashes, itches, allergies, sinus problems and more. The residue left on your clothes, bed sheets, etc. is absorbed through your skin, as is everything else you touch thus, the success and popularity of transdermal patches. Don’t fall prey to the bombardment of advertisements strongly suggesting that you absolutely need these products. You don’t, but their profit margins do. If declining health is what you desire, use these products.

Disinfectants are usually phenol or cresol-based and deactivate sensory nerve endings. They attack the liver, kidneys, spleen, pancreas, and the central nervous system (CNS) and it takes over a year to eliminate the unhealthy effects of spraying 2 ounces, even with heavy cross ventilation.

Did you know that over 20 million people have asthma and 6.1 million are children!

Asthma is not the only illness that we should be concerned about. The EPA has determined that women that don't work outside the home have a 54% greater risk of getting cancer than women that do work outside the home.

Within 26 seconds after exposure to chemicals such as cleaning products, traces of these chemicals can be found in every organ in the body.

The first agent of chemical warfare was chlorine (Dioxin). Chlorine is the number one cause of breast cancer and can be lethal. Scientist won’t handle chlorine without protective gloves, facemasks and ventilation yet it is the most store-brand cleaner.

So, what do you do? Go to this website

Our mission is to "Free the world of toxic chemicals, one home at a time. We offer 100% all natural cleaning products for the home and business. Non-toxic, non-corrosive, non-flammable and bio-degradable. Safe for you, your children, pets and the environment.

Became 100% disabled after exposed to floor stripper,wax and sealant while on duty as Open Heart/Surg.ICU RN. Product applied by housekeeper and upon returning from lunch, could smell faint odor of ether in Unit. My patient lucky to be on total life support. (Including-breathing tube attached to breathing machine) After wax applied, vapor cloud slowly formed and I wound up in these fumes. After awhile, I went into respiratory arrest. Spent time in Medical Intensive Care given high dose steroids, emergency drugs, breathing treatments and tests ordered, etc. Extremely greatful Lung Dr saved my life! It was touch and go there for awhile. Young person from housekeeping, kept coming in and out of Unit due to odor and fumes forming. Myself and another employee severely injured. I developed severe hyper-reactive airway disease syndrome, (asthma), 2nd,3rd degree Internal upper/lower airway burns, MRSA Osteomyelitis to Maxillarry Sinuses. Voice permenantly changed due to chemical burns, extremely raspy. In addition, went into Septic Shock from severely depressed Immune system from use of high dose steroids. In addition, had Serratia in my blood causing Sepsis too. Nearly died a few times and I've lost count of surgeries I've had. The pain I've experienced during this nightmare is interminable, plus, still under care of many Drs. I've been out of work over 10 yrs. Went from highly trained Critical Care RN to -----fighting for my Life, going through numerous litigation trials, etc.
The product used had NO labeling on container and was described to have pleasant citrus odor!! (MSDS showed three different ethers, plus host of other toxic chemicals included in product.) But, look at the floors shine! In NJ, unless someone were to die from exposure, OSHA did not have to be informed right away. My body is a mess, but life goes on and now I'm a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant, helping attorneys with cases like this and many other issues.
Worse part was loosing my job and being "terminated" because I could no longer perform my duties as bedside RN the following year.. I really hope & pray this product is not used in institutions, or businesses at this time! Warnings that should have been on this product weren't there! If I'm ever exposed to this product again, I will DIE! Any questions, feel free to contact me.

This is why my family and friends only use Shaklee

as seen on Oprah

These are safe nontoxic cleaners

get them at

see for yourself

A great post! All toxic chemicals that can be hazardous to environment must be banned or stopped. It'll destroy and affects our health especially our children. As much as possible, please use pro bio detergents or anything for washing. You made a good deeds..links to this : A Global Tribe for more info's.

I have noticed that when I run the dishwasher it can sometimes be hard to breathe. We have to open a window and run the vent fan over the stove, but it still can be a problem. It would be nice to have a dishwashing detergent that works that will also not be toxic to breathe.


In a word yes !!.... been crtying for this for many years as I go into ANAPHYLAXIX with these in process of re locating 46 move as a result two major head traumas as a result of falls re crises in haleing these scents from neighbors laundry and today i again search for a safer place these should be banned forever and manufactors.

Sued these products I believe are also for many undiagnosed deaths inc. crib deaths!! Sid deaths please do contact me I am now told to live in a bubble I am 65 and my life as I once new it is over completely over . photos to follow , you will not believe them bleeding head nose swelling almost trice my size well a medical i am alive.

I have learned the only help is total avoidance!! hospitals are also guilty for using thes products yes go for it stopped this use of chemical warfare and shut down operations at once if not sooner .I have full medical files lab have been to Mayo clinic ..half dead as a result of laundry products!! Death for greed when will it end how many deaths will it take .


but what about Clorox? oh right, i forgot, they get the Sierra Club's greenwash...


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