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Women's group warns of hazards in cleaners

Posted by on Jul. 25, 2007 at 10:46 AM
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Check out this article the was in my local newspaper today.

Women's group warns of hazards in cleaners

Industry skeptical chemicals are linked to fertility disorders

SAN FRANCISCO — Dozens of common household cleaning products contain hidden toxic chemicals linked to fertility disorders in lab animals, according to data gathered by a women’s research group.

A type of glycol ether is frequently found in popular cleaning products such as Windex Aerosol, Formula 409, Lemon Fresh Pine-Sol and Simple Green All Purpose Cleaner, says the report released Tuesday by Women’s Voices for the Earth, a Montana-based nonprofit organization working to eliminate or reduce toxic chemicals in the home.

The chemical is called ethylene glycol butyl ether, or EGBE. It is also known as 2-butoxyethanol. The chemical is on California’s list of toxic air contaminants.

Some animal studies indicate that it produces reproductive problems, such as testicular damage, reduced fertility, death of embryos and birth defects. People exposed to high levels of EGBE for several hours have reported nose and eye irritation, headaches, vomiting and a metallic taste in their mouths, studies show.

“These are products that women are using in their households on a daily basis, and they use them around their children,” said Alexandra Gorman, the group’s director of science and research and an author of the report.

The women’s research group pored through federally mandated Material Safety Data Sheets pertaining to household cleaning products. The data sheets, which are prepared by the manufacturers and are widely available online, contain information on chemicals used in products.

The group found that EGBE was a common ingredient. It’s a colorless, biodegradable chemical with a fruity odor that acts as a degreaser.

Brian Sansoni, a spokesman for the Soap and Detergent Association, an industry trade group, responded to criticisms of the use of EGBE in household cleaners.

“There is no need to play ‘Fear Factor’ here. This ingredient usage in cleaning products is not known to be of concern for consumers who use these products as directed,” Sansoni said.

Members of his group include Clorox Co. and S.C. Johnson, which manufacture Formula 409, Pine-Sol and Windex Aerosol — the only Windex formulation to contain EGBE, according to the data.

The federal government removed EGBE from its list of hazardous air pollutants a few years ago, Sansoni noted.

William Nazaroff, a professor of environmental engineering and chairman of the Energy and Resources Group at University of California, Berkeley, said the EPA erred when it removed the chemical from the hazardous air pollutants list.

Nazaroff conducted a study for the California Air Resources Board in 2006 on the indoor air chemistry of cleaning agents and toxic air contaminants. He found that people using some common products containing EGBE could be exposed to levels 12 times greater than California’s one-hour exposure guideline.

“None of these are (legally enforceable) standards for ordinary indoor environments. We have a blind spot in our regulatory structure for toxic air pollutants,” Nazaroff said. “It defies logic to think that it’s unsafe to be exposed outdoors but it would be safe to be exposed at that level indoors.”

by on Jul. 25, 2007 at 10:46 AM
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by Group Owner on Jul. 25, 2007 at 11:44 PM
Great article. thanks so much.
by Member on Jul. 27, 2007 at 11:18 PM

Too bad many people after reading this will just brush it off like it's all make believe. I hear many say that it's "too hard to do anything about it". Whatever!! It's so easy to make the changes NEEDED to keep you and your family SAFE!! Their are an increasing amount of products available that are safe, healthy & ecofriendly. Plus the ol stand by's are always available~ baking soda, vinegar and peroxide are amazing little wonders!!

    Rock on cafemoms!!   ~ april.

    check out my group  ~Homemade goodness~

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