Toxic Products in the Home: Mislabeled

Mislabeled Products Misstate Safety by Missing Toxic Ingredients

When it comes to the labels on potentially hazardous household products, finding a complete disclosure of all the ingredients they contain has always been a hit or miss proposition. Now a new study says it’s really mostly miss.

How much so? Researchers tested 40 products from lipstick to all-purpose cleaners and found that 34 of them contained highly dangerous toxins that were not listed on their labels.

For years, consumer and environmental health advocates have pointed out that regulatory loopholes permit manufacturers of many household products to avoid having to put a clear and complete listing of the ingredients their products contain on product labels.

For their part, companies have successfully lobbied to maintain this status quo, citing the importance of protecting trade secrets and other proprietary information concerning their products’ formulas.

The end result of the stalemate is that consumers often have little or no idea what hazards are hiding inside the products they use. Now a new study from the National Environmental Trust has found that those dangers are often greater than many may think.

To conduct its research, the organization contracted an independent lab and used federally approved testing methods to find out what was really inside 40 different household products.

The items tested for the study included various kinds of make-up, hair styling gels, soaps, furniture finishing products, and cleaning products, including disinfecting sprays and cleaners, and kitchen, toilet, and all-purpose cleaners.

To the organization’s surprise, laboratory results showed that 34 of the products, a stunning 85%, contained ether glycols, organic solvents, or phthalates even though no mention of any of these poisons was made on any of the products’ labels.

The toxins found can affect human health in a variety of ways. Glycol ethers, for example, can cause liver and kidney damage, as well as nervous disorders.

Many organic solvents are severe eye, skin, and mucous membrane irritants, and can damage the neurological system, liver, blood, lungs, and kidneys.

For their part, phthalates have been linked to everything from reproductive and developmental disorders to cancer. All three kinds of chemicals can produce negative health effects at low levels, especially if exposure to them is chronic, meaning it occurs repeatedly over time.

As part of the study, researchers also examined government data from the states of New Jersey and Massachusetts (two states that mandate the tracking of toxic chemicals) and found that a wide variety of household products contain carcinogenic substances, reproductive and developmental poisons, and neurotoxins.

Further, for every one pound of these compounds that is released into the air, water, or soil as manufacturing pollution, 42 pounds are put into consumer products and released at home during the use of those products.

The study paints a disquieting picture of household product safety and manufacturer disclosure, and its authors end by calling for comprehensive tracking initiatives and increased reporting, as well as a dramatic revision of regulations and a program to put non-toxic alternatives on a fast track.

For more information about the report, including a downloadable copy, visit

Our source: Non-toxic Times (Seventh Generation)

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