Even those products labeled "green" emit hazardous compounds not listed on the labels, report researchers from the University of Washington. They detected 133 chemicals in 25 popular products they analyzed, including laundry detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, soaps, hand sanitizers, lotions, deodorants, shampoos and air fresheners. More than half the products studied were the top sellers in their categories. All the products emitted at least one chemical classified as toxic or hazardous, the investigators noted, and 11 of them emitted at least one chemical considered a probable carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The study didn't examine the health consequences of the chemical emissions. However, two earlier studies published by the lead investigator found that 20 percent of the U.S. population reported adverse reactions from air fresheners and about 10 percent complained of negative effects from laundry products. Complaints were about twice as high among asthmatics. Under current law, manufacturers aren't required to disclose the ingredients in cleaning supplies, and the Food and Drug Administration doesn't require labels to list ingredients used in fragrances in personal care products. The study was published online on October 26 in the journal Environmental Impact Assessment Review.
My take? If you're chemically sensitive or have allergies or respiratory sensitivities, you may want to create and use natural cleaning products to avoid exposure with compounds that can trigger your symptoms. But even if you have no sensitivities that might be activated by conventional cleaning products, you might want to rethink your use of those that contain carcinogens or suspected carcinogens. The danger these chemicals pose depends on the extent of your exposure - how often you use the products and how long you're in contact with the fumes.
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