From “lemon fresh” to “crisp pine,” the fragrances of cleaning products can really make your home smell spick-and-span. But have you ever considered that all those lovely scents could be laden with toxins?
You see, in most conventional cleaning products, fragrances don’t come from a squeeze of actual lemon or a drop of real pine oil.
That’s right, they come from chemicals and those chemicals contain hazardous sunstances, without a doubt.
For example, we’ve known for decades that two common (and practically unpronounceable) fragrance chemicals — phthalates and perchloroethylene — cause cancer, but companies continue to regularly use them in cleaning products without putting them ingredient labels.
Fortunately, in countries like the UK and the European Union labelling laws are much stricter than in the US. However, that doesn’t mean that unscrupulous companies don’t find ways around these laws.
The good news is that as consumers are getting more and more aware of the ingredients and chemicals inside the products they buy, laws are changing to protect consumers. In the US, lawmakers recently passed the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act. Starting in 2020, manufacturers of cleaning solutions and air fresheners (another common source of toxic fragrances) will have to disclose harmful fragrance chemicals used in their products.
This means that you’ll be able to see which products contain dangerous chemicals by visiting the companies’ websites, before you purchase the product from a supermarket shelf. Since online disclosures won’t be required for another two years, it gives manufacturers ample time to reformulate their products. And if they’re smart, they’ll remove toxic fragrances from the mix before you have a chance to spot them and run the other way.
Here’s for hoping that the same laws will apply to imported goods and that those goods will be heavily scrutinized before they are allow to cross borders… Hopefully, this new movement to toxin-free living will have a ripple effect all over the world. Goodness knows, now is the time to clean our air and start protecting our health and our planet.
In the meantime, choosing “fragrance-free” products is a step in the right direction — but that doesn’t mean they’re free of other toxins like “quats,” which can up your risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Even supposedly “green” cleansers can contain harmful toxins, so read all ingredient labels carefully.
A sure bet for avoiding toxins altogether is to clean things the “old-fashioned” way: with time-tested germ-busters like baking soda, vinegar, and plain old soap and hot water.
Wishing you the best of health,
Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing
Safety & Health, published online, safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/16348-cleaning-product-right-to-know-act-becomes-law-in-california