As with food and many beauty products, a proposed federal law would require cleaning supply manufacturers to fully disclose all ingredients on their product labels. The Household Product Labeling Act was introduced in September by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and similar legislation in the House is being sponsored by Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y.
A number of consumer advocate groups have voiced concerns about environmental contamination and health problems caused by chemicals, including phthalates, glycol ethers and monoethanolamine, in many conventional cleaning products. A 2007 report by the nonprofit Women’s Voices for the Earth claimed that certain chemicals in conventional cleaning products have been linked to increased rates of asthma, reproductive problems and developmental delays in children.
Currently, the government only requires that ingredients that pose an immediate danger be listed on cleaning product labels. The Soap and Detergent Association is implementing a voluntary system in which producers will have the choice of listing ingredients on labels or directing consumers to websites or toll-free numbers. Franken says he is not in favor of a voluntary system.–A.C.