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In the News!

Written by Long Island Press on Jul 7th, 2009 and filed under Green Facts, Green Living, L.I. News, News, Uncategorized
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 said.

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 said.

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 her floor.
“If there is a little stain where I can’t reach with the vacuum, I apply only a small amount as directed,” Gordon said.

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.