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Check your home cleaning supplies: Even ‘green’ may be toxic

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2012-04-27 07:42

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is again helping consumers weed out toxins in the home. Some of the top offenders may surprise you. The group has put some commonly used household cleaners into their “Hall of Shame” because of harmful chemicals that can make consumers think they’re buying safe home products to keep their environment healthier – when in fact, the opposite is true. Even cleaners labeled ‘safe’ and ‘green’ can contain toxins, making manufacturer claims a stretch.

The EWG lists the following cleaners that are toxic, which that might want to get out of your cupboard to make spring cleaning safer for you and your family.

According to a team of researchers that includes chemists, toxicologists, public health officials and attorneys, many cleaning products that claim to be environmentally friendly simply are not. Others contain harmful chemicals that have been banned in Europe because their associated with cancer and even blindness. In some cases the ingredients aren’t’ listed, making it impossible to know whether or not they’re safe.

Jane Houlihan, EWG’s senior vice president for research and co-author of the Cleaners Hall of Shame report said in a statement. “Almost any ingredient is legal and almost none of them are labeled, leaving families at risk. Our Hall of Shame products don’t belong in the home.”

A comprehensive database of toxic cleaning products used in the home is due for completion in the fall of 2012. The current list is a partial database.

Nneka Leiba, a senior analyst for EWG adds “As we’ve been working on this database for the last few months, we realized Americans really need to be aware of some of the ingredients in these products. We feel we have to release some of this information early.”

In an e-mail, Ken Cook, President of the EWG, said the discovery of toxins in household cleaners “shocks” him, even though he’s been working to keep consumers safe from harmful products for almost 20 years. He urges consumers to learn the truth so you can keep your families safe.

The worst toxic offenders include Simple Green All Purpose cleaner, which contains a red blood cell damaging and eye irritating solvent known as 2-butoxyethanol. The solvent in Simple Green can be absorbed through the skin. Though instructions for use recommend diluting the product, it’s sold full strength, which could mean high exposure for consumers to the toxin.

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