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Report: Secret Chemicals Revealed in Common Household Cleaners

November 18, 2011

DES MOINES, Iowa - A dirty secret lurks in common household cleaning products, according to new independent lab testing on 20 popular products that found nearly all contained undisclosed toxic chemicals.

Alexandra Scranton, director of science and research for Women's Voices for the Earth, says consumers deserve to know to what chemicals they're being exposed so they can avoid products that may cause allergic reactions or serious long-term health problems such as cancer, birth defects or pregnancy complications.

"Currently, there are no requirements for them to label or disclose any ingredient. Some of the companies are doing this voluntarily, but they're still keeping some chemicals hidden. So, we do think there needs to be mandatory ingredient disclosure laws, so that people know what they're being exposed to."

Some of the products tested in the report include Tide Free & Gentle detergent, which is marketed to people with sensitive skin but was found to contain a probable human carcinogen. Simple Green Naturals was found to contain phthalates, a chemical associated with reproductive disorders and birth defects. Allergens were found in several products marketed as "fragrance-free."

Some manufacturers have maintained that the ingredients in their products are proprietary.

The report coincides with national legislation called the Cleaning Product Right-to-Know Act, which is being introduced today in Congress, Scranton says.

"This is a bill, very simply, that will require cleaning-product companies to put on the label of all their cleaning products all the ingredients that they include."

A fact sheet with a list of products tested and results is online at womensvoices.org.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - IA