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Kavanaugh now expected to meet his accuser at an open hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. Also on the Tuesday rundown: An Albany rally calls for a million solar households; and #GetCaughtReading – a weeklong campaign for readers of all ages.

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Spring Cleaning: Is There Danger Under the Sink?

April 4, 2012

PHOENIX - For those who make a habit of spring cleaning, toxic chemicals in some household cleaners may turn this into a dangerous season.

Twenty-one groups have sent a letter urging federal action to enforce a 40-year-old law which requires disclosure of harmful chemicals in cleaning products from widely distributed manufacturers.

Deborah Goldberg, managing attorney at Earthjustice, says manufacturers must be required to list the ingredients in their products on a multi-state database.

"It's not only to the people who are down on their hands and knees scrubbing, it's for the little kids who are crawling around in this stuff and pushing their noses against the window, and so forth."

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, cleaning products are among the top five most common poisons to which children are exposed. Goldberg says studies have linked cleaning chemicals to asthma, nerve damage and hormone disruption.

Dr. Erica Elliott, who co-authored the book "Prescriptions for a Healthy House," says these toxic chemicals sometimes are hidden.

"For example, when it says 'fragrance,' many people naively assume it's from some plant or some flower or something. Most fragrances are petrochemicals."

Sometimes, Elliott says, you don't know what you're using because of how ingredients are listed on labels.

"Here's a common problem: They say the main ingredient, and then the rest, they say 'inert ingredients,' or 'other ingredients,' and don't say what they are."

In some cases, Elliott says, the inert ingredients are more dangerous than are the active ingredients.

While consumers await enforcement of the disclosure law, Elliott says organizations such as Environmental Working Group are helpful in sorting out many of the confusing aspects of ingredients and chemical labeling.

More information is online at Elliott's website, ericaelliottmd.com or that of the Environmental Working Group at ewg.org.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ