Environmental Working Group – Hall of Shame

Posted On May 2, 2012, By T Ross

Below are excerpts from the Environmental Working Group’s Hall of Shame Report.

Download Full Original Report – PDF

You’d expect to see these warnings on a barrel of hazardous waste. In fact, they’re in the fine print of labels of everyday household cleaners or on their websites and obscure technical disclosures.

Chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer.
Will burn skin and eyes.
Will penetrate skin and attack underlying tissues and bone.

In a ground-breaking initiative to uncover the truth about toxic chemicals in common household products, the Environmental Working Group has unearthed compelling evidence that hundreds of cleaners, even some of those hyped as “green” or natural, can inflict serious harm on unwary users. Many present severe risks to children who may ingest or spill them or breathe their fumes.

The first edition of the EWG Cleaners Database is due for release in fall 2012. Already, our research has turned up products loaded with extremely toxic compounds banned in some countries. Some of their ingredients are known to cause cancer, blindness, asthma and other serious conditions. Others are greenwashed, meaning that they are not, as their ad hype claims, environmentally benign. Still more hide the facts about their formulations behind vague terms like fragrance.

To empower consumers, the EWG Cleaners Hall of Shame, published in anticipation of the full database, highlights the worst of the worst so far.

Stay tuned and we’ll update the Hall of Shame as our analysis progresses, because American consumers need this information now. Though many Americans assume government bodies oversee the safety of the multi-billion-dollar household cleaning products industry, it is largely unregulated. The EWG Cleaners Database aims to fill this information gap in order to give people straight facts developed by independent scientists.

Greenwashing Cleaners labeled “safe,non-toxic and green can contain hazardous ingredients. There should be a law against bogus claims, but there isn’t. Some companies are willing to bend the truth because they can.

Worst offenders:

Simple Green Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner.

It’s labeled non-toxic and biodegradable. It contains:

2-butoxyethanol, a solvent absorbed through the skin that damages red blood cells and irritates eyes;
A secret blend of ethoxylated surfactants. Some members of this chemical family are banned in the European Union.

Worse, the company website instructs the user to dilute the product significantly for even the heaviest cleaning tasks. Yet it comes in a spray bottle that implies it should be sprayed full-strength. Such use would result in higher exposures.

Wink Rust Stain Remover.

Advertised for cleaning white porcelain sinks, toilet bowls and colorfast fabrics and carpet, the fi ne print warns:

May be fatal or cause permanent damage.
Causes severe burns which may not be immediately painful or visible.
On technical information for workers, “will penetrate skin and attack underlying tissues and bone.

Product literature advises workers to “use only with adequate ventilation and to wear gloves, safety goggles and a face mask. Consumers are advised only to wear rubber gloves.

Citra-Solv Cleaner & Degreaser.

These concentrated liquids and ready-to-use sprays contain d-limonene and orange oils from citrus peels. According to the company’s worker safety disclosure, Citra-Solv concentrate is 85 to 95 percent d-limonene. That the oils are derived from citrus implies safety, but sprayed into the air, they can react with trace levels of ozone air pollution to form ultrafine particles that penetrate deep into the lungs and formaldehyde, which the U.S. government classifies as a known human carcinogen. The California Air Resources Board advises people to limit the use of citrus- or pine oil-based cleaners on smoggy days to avoid exposure to particulates and formaldehyde.

EWG Green Tip: Read labels carefully and pay special attention to warnings. Don’t buy any products labeled poison, danger or fatal if swallowed or inhaled.

Banned Abroad

Spic and Span Multi-Surface and Floor Cleaner.

This product contains nonylphenyl ethoxylate, which the state of California has banned in cleaning products manufactured after 2012. Products containing this chemical cannot be sold in the European Union. It breaks down to nonylphenol, which can disrupt the hormone system, is toxic to aquatic life and persists in the environment.

Scrubbing Bubbles – Antibacterial Bathroom Cleaner & Extend-A-Clean Mega Shower Foamer.

These products contain up to 10 percent DEGBE, also called brotherliness, a solvent banned in the European Union at concentrations above 3 percent in aerosol cleaners. It can irritate and inflame the lungs.

Mop & amp; Glo Multi-Surface Floor Cleaner.

It contains DEGME, also called methoxydiglycol, at up to 15 times the concentration allowed in cleaners sold in the European Union. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe says DEGME is “suspected of damaging the unborn child.”

DampRid Mildew Stain Remover Plus Blocker.

It may contain up to 10 percent of a hazardous solvent called 2-butoxyethanol. Canada caps this chemical’s use in cleaners at 6 percent. It also contains nonylphenol ethoxylate, prohibited in cleaners sold in the E.U.

EASY-OFF Fume Free Oven Cleaner.

This spray contains 5 to 10 percent DEGBE. The E.U. bars concentrations of DEGBE greater than 3 percent because it can harm the lungs.

EWG Green Tip: Check your brand’s labels and websites for ingredient lists. Avoid products containing nonylphenol ethoxylates (look for nonylphen or nonoxynol within the ingredient name) and 2-butoxyethanol, butoxydiglycol, ethylene- or diethylene glycol monobutyl ether, diethylene glycol monomethyl ether or methoxydiglycol.

Drain cleaners that can burn and blind

Childproof packaging is just one clue that conventional drain cleaners are extremely dangerous.

Drano Professional Strength Kitchen Crystals Clog Remover.

The label says this product can severely burn eyes and skin and cause blindness or even death.

Drano Kitchen Crystals

may remain in the drain after use, creating an extreme hazard. Using a plunger could cause caustic splashback. Pouring any other product down the drain might trigger a dangerous chemical reaction. The label warns purchasers to keep water out of can at all times to prevent contents from violently erupting or boiling out. Yet unsuspecting consumers have been known to store it under the sink.

EWG Green Tip: Use a drain snake and plunger, available in hardware stores. Store drain cleaner in high secure cabinets out of reach of children and away from water.

Oven cleaners that emit toxic fumes

Conventional oven cleaners can contain substantial amounts of sodium or potassium hydroxide, meant to dissolve crusty, baked-on gunk. These chemicals can also burn skin, lungs and eyes.

Wal-mart Great Value Heavy Duty Oven Cleaner. The label warns: “Will burn skin and eyes. Avoid contact with skin, eyes, mucous membranes and clothing. Harmful if swallowed. Avoid inhaling spray mist. Wear long rubber gloves while using.

CVS/pharmacy Fume-Free Oven Cleaner.

Though claiming to be “fume-free, the label warns: Vapor harmful! open windows and doors or use other means to ensure fresh air entry during application and drying. The label says the product contains an unidentified substance “known to the state of California to cause cancer.

EASY-OFF Heavy Duty Oven Cleaner Aerosol Spray.

The label warns: “Warning: …DANGER: CORROSIVE! WILL BURN EYES AND SKIN. HARMFUL IF SWALLOWED. Avoid contact with eyes, skin, mucous membranes and clothing. DO NOT ingest. Use only with adequate ventilation. Avoid breathing spray mist. Wear long rubber gloves when using

EWG Green Tip: Sprinkle baking soda liberally to cover the bottom of the oven. Spray with water. Wait 8 hours, scrape and wipe clean.

Mystery mixtures

Ingredient labels are mandatory for food, cosmetics and drugs – but not for cleaners. Bowing to pressure from customers and to the threat of federal regulation, most companies list some ingredients on labels and websites or in worker safety information. But a few companies disclose nothing. Others may list one or a few ingredients or use vague terms like surfactant” or solvent.

Target’s Up & Up.

This brand’s Toilet Bowl Cleaner and Glass and Surface Wipes do not list any ingredients on the product packaging. Other products sold under the Up & Up label list only one or two ingredients or use vague terms.

LA’s Totally Awesome.

This brand divulges few ingredients. It lists just one ingredient for its Orange All Purpose Degreaser & Spot Remover, the hazardous solvent 2-butoxyethanol.

Walmart’s Great Value.

This store brand does not list ingredients in its Heavy Duty Oven Cleaner and lemon-scented Furniture Polish, despite the company’s commitment to sell products that sustain people and the environment. Other items sold under the Great Value brand list few ingredients or use general terms for them.

EWG Green Tip: Look for products listing most or all ingredients on the label or website. No information could mean something to hide.

Fatal if inhaled

Some popular cleaning products contain addictive inhalants. Inhalants generally have been abused by 1 in 5 American teens and are considered “gateway drugs that lead to drug and alcohol abuse (www.inhalant.org). They are potentially fatal in concentrated form. A few of the many inhalant products EWG found:

Glade air freshener sprays warn that “intentional misuse by deliberately concentrating and inhaling the contents can be harmful or fatal.

Air Wick automatic air fresheners and Old English furniture polish carry the same warning.

Spot Shot carpet stain remover warns that “inhalation abuse of aerosol products may be harmful or fatal.”

EWG’s Green Tip: Talk to your kids about the risks of inhalants (www.inhalant.org). Read warning labels and keep cleaners that are potentially fatal if inhaled out of your home.

Fatal if swallowed

When is a clean house worth this risk?

Lysol Disinfectant Power Toilet Bowl Cleaner with Lime & Rust Remover.

This corrosive acid concoction kills bacteria but is also labeled harmful or fatal if swallowed. The cleaner’s child-proof cap is an important safety feature. The label warns not to squeeze the container when opening and to wear safety goggles. A bit of this acid in the eye can cause irreversible damage.

2000 Flushes and X-14 toilet bowl cleaners.

These chlorine-laden discs don’t harm plumbing or septic systems, but according to the label they may be fatal if swallowed. The boxes warn customers to wear rubber gloves when handling, hold the disc away from the face and avoid inhaling the fumes. A pet could confuse a disc with a plastic chew toy.

EWG Green Tip: Don’t take a chance on products that are fatal if swallowed. Pets and children are most at risk, so read the warning labels. Stock your cabinet with safer choices, but keep them, too, out of children’s reach.

High-hazard ingredients

Hagerty Liquid Jewel Clean.

It contains perchloroethylene, a toxic solvent classified as probably carcinogenic to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Tarn-X Tarnish Remover.

This Wipe & Rinse product contains up to 7 percent thiourea, a chemical classified as a carcinogen by the state of California. The company’s technical information for workers says “prolonged or repeated exposure may cause reproductive and fetal effects.

Ajax, Dynamo and Fab Ultra liquid laundry detergents (Phoenix Brands).

These contain formaldehyde, also known as formalin, classified as a known human carcinogen by the U.S. government and World Health Organization. Formaldehyde can cause asthma and allergies. The company divulges the presence of formaldehyde in the product only on technical disclosures for workers.

EWG Green Tip: Try safer do-it-yourself options fi rst, before heavier duty options.

Combatting static with toxic chemicals

Dryer sheets and anti-static sprays may free clinging fabrics and stop static sparks, but they usually do it with quaternary ammonium compounds that can irritate lungs and cause asthma as well as allergic contact dermatitis.

Static Guard contains the chemical DTDMAC, or ditallow dimethyl ammonium chloride, which is so persistent in the environment that it can’t be used as a cleaning ingredient in the European Union.

Final Touch Ultra Liquid Fabric Softener.

This brand contains quaternium-18 (dihydrogenated tallow dimethyl ammonium chloride or DHTDMAC), which also cannot be used in cleaning products in the European Union for its persistence in the environment.

EWG Green Tip: Use a humidifier if your indoor air is dry more water in the air means less static electricity. Add vinegar to the rinse cycle to prevent static cling or run a damp cloth over clothing.

Spray cleaners with asthma-causing ingredients

Even though 1 in 10 U.S. children are suffering from asthma, some companies make spray cleaners that a fill the air with asthmagens, meaning ingredients that cause asthma.

Clorox, Fantastik, Febreze, Formula 409, Easy-O , Lysol, Mr. Clean and Spicand Span.

Many of the spray cleaners sold under these brand names are laced with quaternary ammonium compounds or ethanolamine, ingredients classified as asthmagens by the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics, a professional association of clinics and health experts. These chemicals can trigger asthma attacks and can cause new cases of the disease in people who are asthma-free. Ingredients classified as asthmagens don’t belong in spray products.

EWG’s Green Tip: Skip spray products that contain ethanolamines (MEA, DEA and TEA) and “quats.” Beware of ADBAC, benzalkonium chloride or ingredients with ammonium chloride in the name from the label or the company’s website. Do not use disinfecting sprays, since most of them contain asthmagens.

100+ hidden chemicals

EWG’s 2009 state-of-the-art air pollution tests of 21 common school cleaning products turned up a wide range of air contaminants linked to asthma, cancer, reproductive toxicity, hormone disruption and neurotoxicity. Some of the worst offenders are in products also commonly used in the home.

Comet Disinfectant Cleanser Powder emitted 146 chemicals, including some thought to cause cancer, asthma and reproductive disorders. The most toxic chemicals detected formaldehyde, benzene, chloroform and toluene are not listed on the label. Little is known about the health risks of most of the contaminants found.

Febreze Air Effects released 89 air contaminants.

EWG Green Tip: Open windows or run a fan or both to clear the air during and after cleaning.

Undisclosed chemicals in the air

Air fresheners do not clean or purify the air. They merely cover up odors by releasing undisclosed mixtures of fragrance chemicals. Common fragrance components include chemicals that spur
allergies, trigger asthma attacks or impair reproduction.

Lysol Neutra Air Freshmatic boasts that “your home will always smell fresh and clean but cautions that the device should be placed “in well-ventilated rooms away from sleeping areas. Among the label’s warnings: may be harmful if directly inhaled, may cause allergic reaction in some individuals, DO NOT spray towards face or body, DO NOT get in eyes, avoid content with skin, DO NOT spray directly onto surfaces.

Air Wick Freshmatic Compact cautions to use in well-ventilated rooms away from sleeping areas.

Febreze and Glade automatic air fresheners warn Do not use in small confined pet areas without adequate ventilation.

EWG Green Tip: If a room has an odor problem, track down the source and eliminate it instead of covering it up with fragrances. A bowl of baking soda in the bathroom can absorb odors.

Dead zone detergents

Most detergents claim they are phosphate free. And that’s a good thing, because phosphate compounds, formerly a mainstay for cleaning dishes and clothing, wash into waterways and spur rampant algae growth that leads to massive Dead Zones in the Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay and other water bodies. Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia prohibit phosphates in household dishwashing and laundry detergents. But some companies exploit a legal loophole by selling phosphate-laden additives that are as harmful as banned detergents.

FINISH Glass Magic Hardwater Performance Booster contains up to 21 percent phosphate by weight, according to the label.

EWG Green Tip: Skip phosphate additives for dishwashers and clothes washers. Don’t use cleaners with ingredients that damage the environment.

Indoor Air Quality – How Much Bad Is Really Bad?

Posted On November 15, 2010, By T Ross

Indoor Air Quality – How much bad is really bad?

The air inside your office, your kids’ school, and in the sanctity of your home is pretty clean, right? After all, you and the various hired staff are cleaning regularly and as you enter, you know it is clean because you can smell it. Smell what?

Could it be that the smell of clean is – no smell?

What we smell after using cleaners for the floor, furniture, glass, counter tops, bathroom areas, etc. includes VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) which can be harmful to us and our children and pets. In fact, there are tests showing the indoor air to contain elevated levels of various ingredients of cleaning chemicals long after the use of the chemicals. So, in a tightly built home, school, or office, where we spend up to 90% of our time, we could be breathing in VOCs all the time we are there.

In a study performed for the EPA of air quality in 100 office buildings (BASE Study) it was found that there are significant amounts of VOCs in the office environment. Things like Formaldehyde, Acetone, Toluene, 2-butoxyethanol, Limonene, and Trimethylbenzene were found among many others. Many of the compounds discovered in these offices are harmful to humans. Some are found at levels that are not expected to be a problem when breathed in at the concentrations found for an 8 hour period. What is not mentioned in the analysis of this report is that when the worker goes home, he or she may breathe the same or similar chemicals from the home cleaning process for another 12 hours or more each  day.

Also, while the amount of any one given contaminant may be breathed in at below levels of concern, there is a real possibility that when all the contaminants are added together and the individual worker is breathing VOCs at over 300 ug/cubic meter instead of the individual contaminant at, say, 12 ug/ cubic meter – there could be a more severe problem. The average VOCs in the buildings was above 300.

We would like to believe our schools are better cleaned and safer than even our offices. Such is not the case.

In a study of school cleaning chemicals reported by the Environmental Working Group, 20 cleaning chemicals known to be used in California schools were tested for VOCs. They found 457 VOCs emitted from the 20 cleaning products:

• Comet Powder Cleaner released 146 chemicals,
• Simple Green released 93
• Febreze Air Effects released 89

When studied as to what compounds were released that would be of concern, the list is quite long.

According to U.S. and international health agencies twenty-four air contaminants detected by EWG tests may cause asthma, cancer, and other serious health concerns affecting children and adults. Seven more toxic cleaning chemicals that can linger on surfaces and contaminate dust are disclosed as ingredients by product manufacturers. Ten of the products tested contained one or more of the chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer or reproductive or developmental toxicity:

• Alpha HP Multi-Surface Cleaner, Citrus-Scrub 90
• Comet Disinfectant Powder Cleanser
• Febreze Air Effects
• Goof Off Cleaner (CA VOC Compliant)
• Pine-Sol Brand Cleaner (Original)
• Pioneer Super Cleaner
• Shineline Seal Floor Sealer/Finish
• Simple Green Concentrated Cleaner/Degreaser/Deodorizer
• Waxie Green Floor Finish

Twelve of these toxic chemicals, known widely as Proposition 65 chemicals, are found in the cleaning supplies tested by EWG, including:

• Benzene, a solvent and contaminant linked to cancer and male reproductive system toxicity (Comet Disinfectant Powder Cleanser)

• Chloroform, a gas that causes cancer and developmental toxicity (Comet Disinfectant Powder Cleanser)

• Dibutyl phthalate, an emulsifier known to damage developing male and female reproductive systems (Shineline Seal Floor Sealer/Finish).

• Formaldehyde, a cancer-causing gas also emitted by some building materials and furniture (Simple Green Concentrated Cleaner/Degreaser/Deodorizer, Pine-Sol Original Cleaner, Comet Disinfectant Powder Cleanser, Super Cleaner Concentrate)

• Comet Disinfectant Powder Cleanser alone emitted seven Proposition 65 chemicals.

Products that expose users to Proposition 65 chemicals above legally prescribed levels must be clearly labeled as such under the law, to allow individuals and institutions, such as schools, to choose safer products. Recently, the manufacturer of the graffiti remover Goof Off was successfully sued by a public interest law firm because its Proposition 65 warning label was insufficient (As You Sow v. The Valspar Corporation, 2008).
The Study Reports the Following Toxic Chemicals Either Discovered By Analysis or Declared By the Manufacturer:

Health Concern Chemicals Detected
By EWG Tests or
Disclosed as Ingredients
Products Containing One
or More of These Chemicals
(Number of Relevant Chemicals)
Asthmagens: chemicals that
can trigger the development of
asthma in previously asthma free
individuals – 6 chemicals
from 10 school cleaners
Alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride
(ADBAC)
Didecyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride
Ethanolamine
Formaldehyde
Methyl methacrylate
Styrene
3M Brand Glass Cleaner (Product No.1,Twist ‘n Fill System)(1)
Comet Disinfectant Powder Cleanser (1)

NABC Non-Acid Disinfectant Bathroom Cleaner (1)
Pine-Sol Brand Cleaner (Original) (1)
Pioneer Super Cleaner (2)
Ripsaw (1)
Shineline Seal Floor Sealer/Finish (1)
Simple Green Concentrated Cleaner/Degreaser/Deodorizer (1)
Virex II 256 (1)
Waxie Green Floor Finish (1)

Carcinogens – 11 chemicals
from 11 school cleaners
Acetaldehyde
Benzene
2-Butoxyethanol
1-Chloro-2,3-epoxypropane
Chloroform
Ethylbenzene
Formaldehyde
N-Ethyl-N-nitroso-ethanamine
Quartz*
Styrene
Trichloroethylene
Citrus-Scrub 90 (1)
Comet Disinfectant Powder Cleanser (7)
Febreze Air Effects (1)
Glance HC Glass and Multi-Surface Cleaner (1)
Goof Off Cleaner (CA VOC Compliant) (1)
Pine-Sol Brand Cleaner (Original) (1)
Pioneer Super Cleaner (2)
Shineline Seal Floor Sealer/Finish (1)
Simple Green Concentrated Cleaner/Degreaser/Deodorizer (3)
Waxie 21 Glass Cleaner (1)
Waxie Green Floor Finish (1)
Reproductive Toxins – 4 chemicals
from 4 school cleaners.
Benzene
Dibutyl phthalate*
Ethoxyethanol
Toluene
Alpha HP Multi-Surface Cleaner (1)
Comet Disinfectant Powder Cleanser (2)
Goof Off Cleaner (CA VOC Compliant) (1)
Shineline Seal Floor Sealer/Finish (2)
Hormone Disrupters – 8 chemicals
from 9 school cleaners
Benzophenone
1-Chloro-2,3-epoxypropane
Dibutyl phthalate*
Ethylene glycol
N,N-Dimethylformamide
Nonylphenol ethoxylate*
Phenol
Styrene
3M Brand Glass Cleaner (Product No. 1, Twist ‘n Fill System)
Clorox Regular Bleach (1)
Comet Disinfectant Powder Cleanser (2)
Glance HC Glass and Multi-Surface Cleaner (1)
Goof Off Cleaner (CA VOC Compliant) (2)
Shineline Seal Floor Sealer/Finish (3)
Simple Green Concentrated Cleaner/Degreaser/Deodorizer (2)
Twister (1)
Waxie 21 Glass Cleaner (1)
Neurotoxins – 17 chemicals
from 15 school cleaners
Acetone*
Benzene
Benzonitrile
Benzyl alcohol
Chloroform
Cyclohexanone
Dibutyl phthalate*
N,N-Dimethylformamide
Ethyl acetate
Isopropyl alcohol
Methyl ethyl ketone
Methyl methacrylate
Phenol
Styrene
Toluene
Trichloroethylene
Xylene
3M Brand Bathroom Cleaner (Product No. 44, Twist ‘n Fill System) (1)
Alpha HP Multi-Surface Cleaner (1)
Citrus-Scrub 90 (1)
Clorox Regular Bleach (1)
Comet Disinfectant Powder Cleanser (5)
Febreze Air Effects (1)
Goof Off Cleaner (CA VOC Compliant) (4)
NABC Non-Acid Disinfectant Bathroom Cleaner (1)
Pine-Sol Brand Cleaner (Original) (1)
Ripsaw (1)
Shineline Seal Floor Sealer/Finish (3)
Simple Green Concentrated Cleaner/Degreaser/Deodorizer (1)
Virex II 256 (1)
Waxie 21 Glass Cleaner (1)
Waxie Green Floor Finish (1)

*Chemicals not detected in air contaminant tests, but disclosed as ingredients by manufacturers Asthmagens identified by the
Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics (AOEC 2009). Carcinogens identified by International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as known, probable, reasonably anticipated, or possible human carcinogens (IARC; Groups 1, 2A, and 2B), the National Toxicology Program (Groups 1 and 2), the EPA Integrated Risk Information System (weight-of-evidence classifications A, B1, B2, C, carcinogenic, likely to be carcinogenic, and suggestive evidence of carcinogenicity or carcinogen potential), or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (as carcinogens under 29 CFR 1910.1003(a)(1)) Reproductive toxins identified by the State of California under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (California Code of Regulations, Title 22, Division 2, Subdivision 1, Chapter 3, Sections 1200, et. seq., also known as Proposition 65). Hormone disrupters identified by the European Union in Appendix 9 of Towards the Establishment of a Priority List of Substances for Further Evaluation of Their Role in Endocrine Disruption (European Commission DG ENV 2000, 2007) Neurotoxins identified in literature review by Grandjean and Landrigan (2006).

It is significant that a manufacturer need not disclose ingredients that are not designated as hazardous, nor is it required to list a hazardous ingredient if it is used at less than 1%.

Examples of Dangerous Products Currently In Use

• Formula 409 contains n-Alkyl Dimethylbenzyl Ammonium Chloride, n-Propoxypropanol, and Monoethanolamine. Worker exposure limit is between 3-6 parts per million.

• Tilex contains Tetrapotassium ethylenediamine tetraacetate (EDTA) which has been found to be both cytotoxic and genotoxic in laboratory animals and is known to cause reproductive and developmental effects.

• Simple Green contains 2-butoxyethenol Lethal dose is 2.5 mg/kg in rats and exposure to humans can cause hypotension, metabolic acidosis, hemolysis, pulmonary edema, coma, and death.

In your home you may be using many of these same cleaning compounds.

The RPS Solution for Government Purchasing of Green Cleaning Products

Posted On , By T Ross

In 2004, the US EPA developed a number of purchasing guides to help government purchasers consider environmental factors in their purchasing decisions. One of these purchasing guides that the EPA developed was to help federal purchasers “Green” their cleaning products. This particular purchasing guide is intended to help reduce human health and environmental concern with regards to cleaning products that are currently in use. Many of the recommendations in the guide are centered around reducing the quantity and hazards of materials currently being used. The purpose of the guide is to provide practical information that will assist federal purchasers in making purchasing decisions.

The EPA came up with following list of key attributes when selecting environmentally preferable cleaning products and RPS’s solution to each is in green.

Product Content and Use

Minimal presence of or exposure to potentially harmful chemicals, such as:

Corrosive or strongly irritating substances.

Substances classified as known or likely human carcinogens or reproductive toxicants by authorities such as the National Toxicology Program, the U.S. EPA, the International Agency for Research on Cancer or the State of California.

Ozone-depleting compounds as listed in Clean Air Act regulations.

Regulated hazardous materials (e.g. products classified as hazardous waste; products that trigger OSHA hazard communication requirements).

RPS SOLUTION – Our products do not contain any of the above mentioned harmful chemicals. In addition, RPS products are recognized by the EPA’s Design for the Environment program (DfE) for safer chemistry.

Use of renewable resources, such as biobased solvents from citrus, seed, vegetable, and pine oils.

RPS SOLUTION – RPS products are sustainable and are also manufactured in a zero discharge facility. Some raw materials are biobased.

Low VOC content.

RPS SOLUTION – RPS products contain Zero VOC’s.

Biodegradable by standard methods and definitions, e.g. ready biodegradability as defined by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). “Ready biodegradability” is a definition meant to ensure that a material degrades relatively quickly in an aquatic aerobic environment.

RPS SOLUTION – Our products contain inorganic materials that are not harmful to the environment, but may not be technically biodegradable. However, the parts of the formula that contain organic materials are biodegradable. RPS products meet the definition of readily biodegradable (OECD 301).

Low toxicity in aquatic species such as fish or aquatic invertebrates, e.g. LC50 or EC50 > 10 mg/L (chronic) reported on MSDS or other product literature.

RPS SOLUTION – Our Hydrocarbon Stabilizer (concentrate) was tested on two salt water species (Mysid shrimp and Menidia) and showed LC 50s of 2,028 ppm and 2,014 ppm. This compares to 32 ppm, 54 ppm, and 77 ppm for Corexit 9,500, PES 51 (Citrus Based), and Simple Green, respectively (in the Mysid test). The Menidia test for the same products resulted in 25 ppm, 137 ppm, and 28 ppm. In addition, RPS product had 100% survival at about 1000 ppm.

Our Hydrocarbon Stabilizer (ready-to-use) was also tested on two freshwater species (Daphnia pulex and Fathead minnows) and showed LC 50s of 420,000 and 520,000 ppm. RPS Hydrocarbon Stabilizer had 100% survival of the fresh water species at 125,000 ppm (12.5%).

Low flammability, e.g. flash point > 200 degrees F.

RPS SOLUTION – RPS products are water-based products, so flashpoint is not applicable (Flashpoint > 200 degrees F).

Designed for use in cold water in order to conserve energy.

RPS SOLUTION – RPS products are designed to be used in cold water.

Limit use of disinfectants to areas where people are likely to come into contact with contaminated surfaces (e.g., bathroom fixtures, doorknobs, other high-touch surfaces). Many general purpose cleaning tasks do not typically require the use of disinfectants (e.g., walls, floors, other surfaces with minimal hand contact).

RPS SOLUTION – Our cleaning products do not require the use of disinfectants. Based on ASTM test methods and testing done by independent laboratories, RPS cleaning products clean more effectively than the competition. The products are safer to use near children, plants and animals.

Conduct training on proper use of products.

RPS SOLUTION – RPS has established a training program for its employees and customers. In addition, RPS provides ongoing support for its customers.

Product Packaging and Shipping

Concentrated formulas with appropriate handling safeguards.

RPS SOLUTION – All RPS products are transported in drums and/or bottles of concentrate and are checked by quality controllers. In addition, RPS products can be washed down the drain as they meet sanitary sewer standards. Applicable RPS products are designed for use in cleaning food preparation areas and carry the NSF logo (requiring only a potable water rinse prior to food preparation on the cleaned surface).

Efficient packaging (e.g., light weight, reduced volume).

RPS SOLUTION – RPS packaging materials are recyclable plastic. There is minimal use of metals except on the intermediate bulk containers. The IBC’s are all 100% recycled or sometimes re-used “as is”. RPS ships concentrated product (when applicable) so as to reduce volume.

Recyclable packaging.

RPS SOLUTION – RPS packaging is made from 100% recyclable plastics.

Recycled-content packaging.

RPS SOLUTION – RPS uses recycled content in its packaging and RPS’ bulk packaging is also reused.

Refillable bottles.

RPS SOLUTION – RPS offers refillable options for all of its products.

Pump sprays rather than aerosols.

RPS SOLUTION – All of RPS quart sized bottles have pump sprays. RPS does not use aerosol for any of its products.

Packaging and dilution systems designed to reduce exposure to the product.

RPS SOLUTION – RPS dilution and packaging systems provide a consistent final product, allowing tight product specifications and reduced exposure to the product.

Products shipped in bulk.

RPS SOLUTION – RPS concentrate is shipped in drums, totes, or tank trucks directly to customers.

Clear labeling and information on use and disposal.

RPS SOLUTION – RPS labels are in accordance with all applicable laws and statutes. In addition, RPS labels include all of the necessary guidelines for safe use, dilution and disposal.

Corporate Environmental Performance

Does the company have a formal environmental management system? (e.g., steps to reduce waste and emissions, efficient use of energy and materials, use of alternative fuels or renewable energy)

RPS SOLUTION – RPS has an extensive environmental management system.  Our products are blended in a zero-discharge facility.  RPS is committed to reducing its carbon footprint.  We maintain a delicate balance between human needs and preserving our ecosystems. This includes everything from recycling to doing business with vendors and business partners who adopt similar policies.

Does the company have International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001 certification?

RPS SOLUTION – RPS does not have the ISO certification.  However, RPS has a written quality system in place. The RPS chemical production facility operates with ZERO DISCHARGE of water and solids to rivers, treatment facilities or landfills. There are no hazardous discharges to the air from RPS products (zero VOC’s).

Does the company have a formal partnership with the Design for the Environment Formulator Initiative?

RPS SOLUTION – RPS has numerous products recognized by DfE in the industrial/institutional cleaning products, consumer cleaning products, aviation products, pet, equine, and odor removal categories.

Dangerous Chemical Facts

Posted On October 22, 2010, By T Ross

First, here are some interesting facts:

  • In the past 40 years, at least 70,000 new chemicals have been released into the environment through new consumer and industrial products and food. Besides a few well known “bad actors”, there is virtually no regulation on the chemical industries. They can produce anything they want, no matter how harmful it is.
  • Male and female infertility are on the rise. Research is now pointing to pesticides as a viable cause. This research is well documented by the Environmental Working Group in partnership with the Red Cross and a number of other reputable organizations.
  • Women who work in the home have a 54% higher death rate than women who work out of the home. – Toronto Indoor Air Conference, 1990 — could it be, at least in part, the chemicals used to clean the home that they are breathing all day?
  • Each year more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergic diseases. Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic disease in the US, costing the health care system $18 billion annually. The prevalence of allergic rhinitis (inflamed nasal membranes) has increased substantially over the past 15 years. Chemicals are becoming stronger and, therefore, their effects on people are more severe.
  • Asthma ranks among the most common chronic conditions in the United States, affecting an estimated 14.9 million persons and its prevalence is increasing.
  • According to the U.S Poison Control Centers, “A child is accidentally poisoned every 30 seconds and more than 50% of all poisonings occur at home with children under 5 years of age.” Chemicals should always be handled carefully and kept out of the reach of children.
  • Asthma is the #1 cause of absenteeism in schools.
  • There has been a 25% increase in the last 25 years in cancer incidence among children under 15 years of age.
  • ADD/ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed childhood behavior disorder today. More than two million (3-5%) children have ADD.
  • Thirty years ago the 3 major childhood illnesses were chickenpox, measles and mumps. Now it is asthma, ADD and cancer.
  • Brain cancer in children is up 40% in 20 years. Could it be due in part to early exposure to chemicals?

Indoor Air Quality Pollutant Sources

Posted On , By T Ross

Indoor Air Quality is a significant concern because of recent research and testing that shows we are breathing more chemicals, VOCs, and chemical fumes than ever before.  With the exception of a few lists of chemicals that are known to be absolutely horrible, there is little to no regulation of the chemical industry.

Chemicals are more of a concern than you might think.  While cleaning chemicals you use in your daily activities are often dangerous, chemicals used to create, protect, or extend the life of products you buy aren’t always known.  Imagine you buy a new shirt that says it is made from 100% cotton — what is not mentioned are the dyes used to create the colors or preservatives to keep away mold, moths, and other problems during shipping and storage. Running the shirt through the laundry doesn’t always remove these chemicals. You may notice that the shirt smells “new” when you buy it — that’s because it has chemicals on it, so wearing the shirt affects what you are breathing.

If that’s not scary enough…

Other indoor air quality concerns include combustion sources such as oil, gas, kerosene, coal,  wood, and tobacco products; building materials and furnishings as diverse as deteriorated, asbestos-containing insulation, wet or damp carpet, and cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products;  products for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, or hobbies; central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices; and outdoor sources such as   radon, pesticides, and outdoor air pollution.

Some sources, such as building materials, furnishings, and household products like air fresheners, release  pollutants more or less continuously. Other sources, related to activities  carried out in the home, release pollutants intermittently. These include smoking,  the use of unvented or malfunctioning stoves, furnaces, or space  heaters, the use of solvents in cleaning and hobby activities, the use of paint strippers in redecorating activities, and the use of cleaning products and pesticides in house-keeping. High pollutant concentrations can remain in the air for  long   periods after some of these activities.