×

New Report Highlights Lack of Chemical Screening Criteria in Cleaning Industry

MISSOULA, Mont., April 28, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A new report released by national women's health non-profit, Women's Voices for the Earth (WVE), finds that the cleaning product industry is falling short in meeting consumer demands for safer products.

Titled Deep Clean: What the cleaning industry should be doing to protect your health, the report exposes how cleaning product companies use the lack of industry regulations as a loophole to keep customers in the dark about how they screen for dangerous chemicals and their overall standards of product safety.

The report rates four leading cleaning product manufacturers:

  • The Clorox Company: Clorox, Pine-Sol, S.O.S., Tilex, Liquid-Plumber, Green Works
  • Procter & Gamble: Tide, Cascade, Dawn, Mr. Clean, Dreft Laundry, Febreze, Gain, Cheer
  • RB (formerly Reckitt Benckiser): Woolite, Lysol, Finish, AirWick, Old English
  • SC Johnson & Son, Inc.: Pledge, Shout, Windex, Glade, Scrubbing Bubbles

According to the report, none of the four companies are fully transparent about the criteria included in their ingredient safety standards, making it impossible to compare the quality of any one company's screening process to another.

"SC Johnson & Son often holds up their GreenlistTM screening process as evidence of its products safety," said Erin Switalski, Executive Director at Women's Voices for the Earth. "But the company does not reveal to the public the actual standards it uses to assess safety. This simply doesn't cut it anymore."

The report reveals that SC Johnson is one of the only major companies still using hormone disrupting synthetic musks, calling into question the integrity of their screening process. In contrast, both RB and Clorox have publicly stated in recent years that they no longer allow the use of synthetic musks in their fragranced products.

"Consumers are not content to take marketing rhetoric at face value. They want to know how a synthetic musk that's linked to hormone disruption can pass SC Johnson's GreenlistTM," said Switalski. "We need clear insight into how a company determines whether or not a chemical is safe to use in their products."

Little regulation exists in the U.S. to limit or control the use toxic chemicals in consumer products. Until federal and state regulations set safety and transparency standards, it's up to companies to set their own safety standards for products.

"Unfortunately, external oversight of chemical screening processes is virtually nonexistent, and there's an overwhelming absence of industry standards," said Alexandra Scranton, WVE's Director of Science and Research. "Deep Clean provides the clear framework of what we expect – of what consumers expect – an effective screening process to look like. Critical to this framework is the simple task of publishing a company's safety criteria in a transparent way."

With words like trusted, family, quality, healthy and responsible commonplace throughout their branding and advertising, it's clear that companies care about gaining the trust and loyalty of the American consumer. But – as Deep Clean illustrates – cleaning product companies can no longer rely solely on language and marketing jargon.

"Studies reveal that consumers, especially women, are spending their money on brands that reflect their concerns for safe products," said Switalski.
Specifically, between 2007 and 2011, retail sales of green cleaners doubled from $303 million in annual sales to $640 million. A 2014 survey found that 81% of respondents make purchasing choices with product safety in mind, but only 42% believe companies are doing enough to make products safe. Furthermore, mothers in particular express how important safer products are to them, with 70% of mothers saying they 'would buy more of a specific brand if they were aware of its positive impacts.'

Since WVE launched their Safe Cleaning Products Initiative in 2007, they have taken aim at product safety, ingredient disclosure and eliminating toxic chemicals from cleaning products. As detailed in the Deep Clean report, manufacturers are responding to consumer demands and have made considerable strides towards removing certain toxic chemicals from their products and in publicly disclosing product ingredients for the first time on their websites.

"We're delighted that consumer product companies have made great strides in ingredient disclosure in the last few years," said Dr. Ann Blake, Ph.D., WVE board member and independent environmental and public health consultant. "However, there's still a long way to go to our vision of transparent, systematic, consistent and stringent screening criteria for consumer product ingredients that reflect the latest science on cumulative low dose exposures to chemicals of concern."

"It's a start," said Switalski. "But transparency is still a huge issue. Assuring customers that products are 'safe to use' will ring hollow if companies don't also explain what they mean by 'safe'."

"Deep Clean is a resource for consumers, and a guideline for companies to use to establish strong and transparent processes for assessing ingredient safety," said Switalski. "How successful they are in following this framework is crucial to truly gaining the trust and loyalty of their customers."

Click here to download a copy of the report, Deep Clean.

Women's Voices for the Earth amplifies women's voices to eliminate the toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. With thousands of members across the United States, WVE changes corporate practices, holds government accountable, and works to ensure a toxic-free future for all. Learn more at http://www.womensvoices.org

CONTACT: Media Contacts: Beth Conway, bethc@womensvoices.org, (406) 543-3747, office Alexandra Scranton, alexs@womensvoices.org, (406) 543-3747, officeSource: Women's Voices for the Earth