As a mom of two young children, I know how hard it is to keep my house clean during the daily routine of spilled food, sticky fingers, muddy shoes, and dirty dishes. But my real worry? What’s really in all these cleaning products?
It’s twisted, all right: The products we use in our homes and workplaces to keep them clean lead to frequent and repeated exposure to toxic chemicals that may harm our health.
That’s why CLCV is supporting AB 708, a new bill that would require disclosure of the top 20 ingredients on both product labels and websites for most kinds of cleaning products sold to consumers and businesses. This important bill will face a close vote in the state Assembly in the next few days—that’s why we’re asking you to raise your voice today and tell your lawmaker to vote YES on AB 708, the “Cleaning Products Right to Know Act.”
[Update: AB 708 failed on the Assembly floor on January 28th, but we will continue to work for disclosure of chemical in household products.]
Workers and consumers don’t know—and the labels won’t tell us—that chemicals found in some ordinary cleaning products are known or suspected to cause cancer, birth defects, asthma and other serious health effects. All of us have a right to know what chemicals we come into contact with in everyday products. Armed with this knowledge, we can choose to minimize the risk of exposure to ourselves and our families.
Bill author Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer notes that vulnerable groups including low-income people who work as janitors and house cleaners (who are primarily immigrants and women of color) tend to have the most exposure to these chemicals. Young children are also at higher risk of negative impacts from exposure to these products. The California Department of Public Health issued a warning in 2014 about the links between asthma and cleaning products, and created a program to help California schools develop safer cleaning programs.
While California works to implement broader rules that will lead to safer products, a common-sense first step is labeling existing products. Consumers should have appropriate information in order to make the choices for ourselves and protect our health.
Cleaning product manufacturers encourage consumers to keep their homes and workplaces clean and fresh using their products. But unlike food, cosmetics, and drugs, manufacturers are not required to disclose ingredients in all those products. Without any laws requiring ingredient disclosure, consumers are left in the dark when it comes to purchasing cleaning products they believe to be safe for their families, or their workers.
A 2011 study released by Women’s Voices for the Earth detected undisclosed toxic chemicals such as toluene, dioxane, phthalates, chloroform, and synthetic musk within leading cleaning products. Several known allergens were also detected in these products, the highest levels of which appeared in fragranced air fresheners. Other ingredients found in cleaning products have been linked to cancer, hormone disruption, reproductive and developmental toxicity, allergies and irritation, burns, poisonings and respiratory ailments. Studies show that some of these toxic chemicals invade our bodies and can be found in urine, breast milk, and blood including the umbilical cord blood of newborns.
It’s time for California to require that manufacturers of certain cleaning products disclose the ingredients on the label of the product and on their website. Tell your Assemblymember you support the Cleaning Products Right To Know Act.