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NY Lawsuit Demands Disclosure of Hazards in Household Cleaners

February 18, 2009

Albany, NY — A first-of-its-kind lawsuit in New York claims there are undisclosed dangerous chemicals contained in everyday household cleaning products. The suit, filed Tuesday in the State Supreme Court, says chemicals in cleaners can cause everything from nerve damage to hormone disruption and asthma. Starting in 1976, manufacturers were supposed to disclose the chemicals in household cleaning products sold in New York, but according to the suit, that law is largely ignored.

Saima Anjam, a legislative associate with Environmental Advocates of New York, says that puts New Yorkers at risk.

"The chemicals in these products can cause reproductive problems, birth defects, and asthma; people deserve to know if the detergents they use to wash their dishes and clean their floors can hurt their families."

Barbara Weir is a concerned New York consumer and mother of three, who is frustrated by the lack of information on home cleaning products. She says one of her grown sons has suffered from asthma, but she never suspected a home cleaning product might be to blame.

"We have a right to know what we are buying, and we should be able to avoid certain chemicals by reading the ingredient listing on the product label, just as we are able to avoid certain ingredients in food products."

Weir say she is now using a water-and-vinegar solution to clean, instead of household detergents.

The Soap and Detergent Association, a national trade group, says activists are using an arcane state law and that their claims are unfounded. Under the state law, attorneys say, manufacturers must report all chemicals used in their products on an annual basis to the Department of Environmental Conservation. The law does not require labeling of chemicals, but does require that disclosure.

There's more information on the potential hazards in household cleaning products on the Web at

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY