Blog

It's Time to Come Clean!

By Jason Pfeifle
Public Health Advocate, CALPIRG

Today we joined our allies to rally in support of the Cleaning Product Right-to-Know Act (AB 708), a bill in California that would require companies to disclose cleaning product ingredients to consumers.

This might not seem like a big deal, but here's why it matters.

Household cleaners like counter spray, glass cleaner, and dishwashing detergent should help us provide a clean, safe environment for family – not harm our health. Yet, many cleaning products contain potentially hazardous chemicals that have been linked to cancer, reproductive harms, asthma, and other serious health effects. [1] [2]. For example, chemicals called Ethanolamines, linked to occupational asthma, have been detected in glass cleaners and laundry detergents.

And studies have shown that some of the dangerous chemicals in cleaning products can invade our bodies. They have been found in urine, breast milk, as well as the umbilical cord blood of newborns. [3]

As consumers, we deserve to know what chemicals are contained in the everyday products we use, especially if those chemicals are linked to serious health effects. Companies should have to provide comprehensive ingredient lists on easy-to-read labels that allow consumers to make informed decisions about what products they buy and use in their homes. Current law mandates these kinds of labels for food and cosmetics. However, there is no such requirement for cleaning products, and very few companies provide this information voluntarily. This violates our right to know, and it puts both consumers and workers at risk, especially domestic workers who are exposed to chemicals in cleaning products for extended periods of time.

That's why we're working to fix this problem. In partnership with Breast Cancer Fund, Environmental Working Group and our other allies, we are working to pass AB 708 because it would require all companies to disclose the chemical ingredients of their cleaning products. If passed, this first-in-the-nation bill would be a game-changer and set a precedent that other states could follow.

However, business lobbyists, including the International Fragrance Association, successfully stalled this bill last year, and we only have until the end of January to win a vote on the Assembly floor.

That's why we ramped up the pressure at the Capitol today. With our allies, we rallied on the front steps of the Capitol and met with dozens of Assemblymembers and legislative staff to call for the passage of AB 708. With the clock ticking, we are going to keep up the pressure and push to pass this critical right-to-know bill to protect both consumers and workers. 

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404651/

[2] http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/content/cleaners_and_health

[3] http://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/

 

 

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