Proposed Legislation Would Require Ingredient Disclosure
Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and other Democrats proposed legislation in November 2011 that would require commercial and consumer cleaning products to list their ingredients on either the product label or packaging.
The Cleaning Product Right-to-Know Act, H.R. 3457, would require manufacturers to list all ingredients their products contain on a label and also supply these lists online. Ingredients would be listed in descending order of predominance by weight. However, ingredients defined as trade secrets by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) would be exempt.
Products covered in the legislation include disinfectants, polishes and other floor maintenance products, air care products and automotive products, among others.
Products without the ingredient label would be treated as a misbranded hazardous substance under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act.
“Our cabinets are full of soaps and cleaners that we assume improve our homes and health. However, new research shines a light on the secret chemicals that might be doing more harm than good,” said Rep. Israel in a news release.
Rep. Israel references the study, “Dirty Secrets,” commissioned by Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE). In the study, 20 cleaning products from five product manufacturers were tested for hidden chemicals. The results indicated the presence of reproductive toxins, carcinogens, hormone disruptors and allergens. WVE argues that these chemicals should be listed on product labels.
Both the study and the legislation, however, are meeting opposition from the commercial cleaning industry. According to the American Cleaning Institute (ACI), the products tested by WVE comply with industry safety standards and contain only trace amounts of the aforementioned chemicals — not enough to connect them to illness or health scares.
In addition, ACI states that legislation mandating ingredient disclosure is unnecessary because the cleaning industry already introduced the Consumer Product Ingredient Communication Initiative in 2010 to provide consumers with detailed information about product ingredients.
ISSA opposes the legislation as well, stating that it is “technically flawed.” For example, the bill would grant the CPSC authority to enforce ingredient disclosure requirements, however, CPSC has no jurisdiction over cleaning products used in the commercial or institutional sector. The association also is concerned with the burden that would be put on the CPSC to review the numerous petitions for trade secrecy.
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