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EWG’s Cleaning Products Research and Advocacy – A Summary

EWG strives to educate consumers and policymakers about hidden dangers in common consumer goods. Our work on cleaning products is a perfect example: EWG’s research projects highlight both air and water pollution released when cleaners are used as directed as well as the special concerns around overuse of antibacterial products at home. Here are EWG’s key contributions to cleaning products research and advocacy:

Choosing Safer Cleaning Supplies

Debut of EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning
September 2012: EWG provides safety ratings for more than 2,000 household cleaners to help consumers choose safer products. EWG’s survey of the literature found that serious health problems such as asthma and allergies have been linked to cleaning products used in the home and on the job. The federal government does not require ingredient disclosure or safety testing by manufacturers of cleaning products.

Focusing on Problem Cleaning Products: EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning, Hall of Shame
April 2012: EWG’s Hall of Shame identified a number of cleaning products that are loaded with toxic compounds (some of them banned in other countries), are not as environmentally benign as their ad hype claims, or that fail to disclose their ingredients.

Cleaners and Air Pollution

EWG Publishes its Greener School Cleaners = Healthier Kids Report
November 2010: EWG testing revealed that ordinary school cleaning supplies can contaminate the air, exposing children to multiple chemicals linked to asthma, cancer and other health problems and to hundreds of other contaminants that have never been tested for safety. The testing confirms that certified green products are less polluting than conventional ones.

California May Roll Back Cuts in Consumer Product Pollution
March 2008: EWG urged the California Air Resources Board to reverse a proposal that would weaken safety and anti-smog standards for cleaning products, cosmetics and other household products.

EWG To California: Control Toxic Fumes from Household Products
February 2008: EWG urged the California Air Resources Board to set strict, health-based standards for cleaning products, cosmetics and other consumer goods.

Antibacterial Pesticides

EWG Comments to EPA on Draft Antimicrobial Rule
April 2009: EWG urged the EPA to protect people and the environment from contamination with antimicrobial pesticides that are common in cleaners and other household items.

EWG Urges Ban On Toxic Soft Soap Additive (PDF)
April 2011: EWG supported a citizen petition to ban triclosan, suspending non-medical uses while EPA reexamines the safety of this hazardous pesticide used in cleaners and a wide array of other products.

EWG Takes a Closer Look at Pesticide in Soap, Toothpaste and Breast Milk – Is It Kid-Safe?
July 2008: EWG report found that triclosan, a toxic antibacterial pesticide that is no more effective than soap and water, is being used in toothpaste and toys, cleaners, liquid hand soap and other consumer goods, posing a threat to infants’ health. The analysis also found major data gaps in the EPA’s toxicological review of triclosan.

EWG Presses Regulators to Investigate Use of Pesticide in Liquid Soap
December 2008: EWG protested the EPA’s decision to allow continued use of triclosan, citing the agency’s incomplete assessments of consumer product and environmental exposures and limited attention to cumulative infant exposures, especially through breastfeeding.

EPA Proposes Rollback of Food Safety Standards at Request of Pesticide Manufacturer
October 2008: EWG objected to EPA’s proposal to remove the food safety standard for a “quat” antibacterial pesticide that is a widely recognized asthmagen and is widely used in commercial and household cleaners and other consumer products.

Cleaners and Water Pollution

EWG Releases New Report, Down the Drain: Sources of Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals in San Francisco Bay
July 2007: EWG and East Bay Municipal Utility District researchers showed that 18 of 19 wastewater samples from residential, commercial and industrial sites around San Francisco Bay contained at least one of three unregulated, widely-used hormone disrupting chemicals found in cleaners and other products – phthalates, bisphenol A and triclosan. Two samples contained all three substances. Despite sophisticated wastewater treatment, these chemicals were detected in treated waters discharged into the Bay.

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About the ratings About the ratings
EWG provides information on cleaning product ingredients from the published scientific... continue reading →
EWG provides information on cleaning product ingredients from published scientific literature, to supplement incomplete data available from companies and the government. The ratings indicate the relative level of concern posed by exposure to the ingredients in this product - not the product itself - compared to other product formulations. The ratings reflect potential health hazards but do not account for the level of exposure or individual susceptibility, factors that determine actual health risks, if any. (Hide)
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