Written by Long
Island Press on Jul 7th, 2009 and filed under Green
By Joe O’Halloran
Legislation that would force the companies
that manufacture household cleaning products to list ingredients
on labels has been proposed.
Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) along with representatives
from the Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) and
the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition (HBCAC) announced
Monday the Household Product Labeling Act, which would require
manufacturing companies of household cleaning agents to
list all chemical ingredients included in all their products.
Currently, the federal government does not require companies
to list the ingredients found in cleaning agents. “We
know what is in the food we eat and we should have the right
to know what is in the cleaning products we use around the
house,” Israel said. “We breathe and ingest
these chemicals everyday, but we don’t know what these
chemicals are because there is no requirement for these
companies to tell us.”
Adrienne Esposito, executive director of CCE, said there
is cause for concern without knowing what chemicals are
mixed into cleaning supplies as a number of products contain
agents that result in birth defects, asthma, eye and throat
irritation, and reproductive disorders.
“Requiring companies to list all the ingredients of
the product on the bottle would give the consumer the power
to decide what products to purchase for their home, but
more importantly it will hold the companies accountable
for their products,” Esposito said.
Karen Joy Miller, founder of HBCAC, said companies are able
to convince consumers to buy their potentially hazardous
chemicals by simply using selective ‘buzz words’
and phrases in their advertising such as, “Green Works,”
and “Environmentally friendly.”
Miller said consumers need to be smart when buying cleaning
products, and that the legislation is a start to understanding
the health hazards that are associated with these products.
“W-A-R-N-I-N-G must be printed on the bottles of these
cleaning products to let the public become informed consumers,”
Miller, who also founded and works with Prevention is the
Cure Inc., an organization that examines and analyzes environmental
links to the development of breast cancer, said both younger
and older populations are more vulnerable to the hazards
of chemical cleaning agents. She said the chemicals found
in the cleaning solutions can affect brain development in
children, and can magnify Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s,
or even arthritis in the elderly.
Laura Weinberg, president of the Great Neck Breast Cancer
Coalition, agreed and said certain chemicals such as Alkylphenol
ethoxylates (APEs), typically found in glass cleaners and
laundry detergent, can mimic estrogen and interfere with
the endocrine system, both of which have been proven to
lead to breast cancer in laboratory studies.
Patricia Branigan, of Islip, said that ingredients in all
chemical cleaning products should definitely be listed,
especially for people who suffer from certain types of allergies.
Branigan, along with her husband, Phil, has grandchildren
who suffer from asthma.
“I always try to resort to homemade recipes for household
cleaning, because it seems so unsafe with all those chemicals
and the dangers associated with them,” Branigan said.
Mr. Branigan believes people have a right to know the ingredients
when it comes to chemical make -ups. “Human beings
need to know what is healthy and what is not,” he
Rosa Acosta and Shannon Foster, both of Central Islip, feel
listing the chemical ingredients on household cleaners would
help people become better shoppers when buying the products.
“The listings would help with health concerns especially
for the young and the elderly, and those people involved
in healthcare,” Acosta said. Both women work as nursing
aides with the Huntington Hills Center for Health and Rehabilitation
located in Melville.
But for some people the chemicals in household cleaners
are of little concern, like Ellen Gordon, of Holbrook, who
said she doesn’t use chemical cleaners that often.
Gordon, who now rents, said she has no carpet in her house
so there is no need for her to apply chemicals all over
“If there is a little stain where I can’t reach
with the vacuum, I apply only a small amount as directed,”
Grace, of Islip Terrace, said she turns to the age-old remedy
of soap and warm water when it comes to household cleaning.
And Heidi, of Oakdale, said she tries to stay away from
all toxins when cleaning, and said she has a filtered water
dispensing system for her and her family.
Israel said he plans to return into session in Washington
on Tuesday where he will push the bill and said he plans
to work with the Food and Drug Administration along with
the Consumer Product Safety Administration. According to
Israel, the companies responsible for the household cleaners
have said that they will issue listings of the ingredients
on their own, but he said he does not want to wait for the
volunteer effort of the companies to come through.