While always reading the labels on cleaning products is a good idea, depending on what country you’re in, they won’t always reveal the full story.
The Environmental Working Group recently tested many cleaning products used in schools in California, and found hundreds of air contaminants and toxins not listed as ingredients by manufacturers.
One product tested emitted 143 contaminants when used as directed, including formaldehyde, benzene, chloroform and four other chemicals identified by the state of California as causing cancer or reproductive harm. A disturbing aspect about that product is only 6 ingredients were disclosed by the manufacturer.
Another general purpose cleaner with an environmentally friendly sounding name released 92 chemicals into the air, including twocarcinogens and formaldehyde, which has been linked to cancer and asthma.
The study also found 283 ingredients in products on which there is almost no scientific data to prove they are environmentally safe or otherwise.
With our kids spending so much time at school and with school being an important vehicle for environmental education, it’s important schools step up to the plate on this issue and research what they are using, while also putting pressure on manufacturers to ensure their products are environmentally friendly. Parents should also play a role in this.
The Environmental Working Group suggests talking to your child’s school administration to learn about the cleaning policy at your child’s school. You can also customize EWG’s sample letter (Word) and provide their Benefits of Certified Green Cleaning Supplies fact sheet (PDF) to help make your case.
You can read more of EWG’s school cleaner test results here
A stack of other green cleaning tips are in my cleaning category