The Grand Portage Reservation is at the northeastern tip of Minnesota. The Air Quality Program has many ongoing projects in order to maintain healthy indoor and outdoor air. These projects include monitoring for regional haze and particulate matter, indoor air quality, invasive plant removal, public outreach, environmental education, alternative energy, and climate change.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Popular Products are Found to Emit Hazardous Chemicals

An Environmental Impact Assessment was recently performed by the University of Washington and the EPA. They tested fragranced products in order to examine what chemicals they may be releasing. They found that products with fragrances, including "green" and organic products, release VOCs, Volatile Organic Compounds, and every product tested released at least one chemical that is known to be toxic. Here is a summary of the article, and you can find the entire article here.

It seems it may be better to use products without any fragrance and even better to make your own, if possible.

Image from Non-Toxic Kids.

Summary of article:

The researchers analyzed 25 popular fragranced consumer products including:
  • air fresheners and deodorizers (sprays, solids, and oils)
  • laundry products (detergents, fabric softeners, and dryer sheets)
  • cleaners (all-purpose sprays, disinfectants, and dish detergents)
  • personal care products (soaps, hand sanitizers, lotions, deodorants, shampoos, and baby products)
These products are widely used in the U.S. and other countries—in homes, workplaces, schools, airplanes, hospitals, and public places.

What did the researchers discover?

These 25 products emitted 133 different volatile organic compounds (VOCs), for a collective total of 421 VOCs, and an average of 17 VOCs per product.

Nearly one-fourth of these VOCs are classified as toxic or hazardous under federal laws. Each product emitted at least one of these chemicals.

Some of these VOCs are classified as probable carcinogens with no safe exposure level, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Virtually none of the VOCs emitted from the products were listed on any product label or material safety data sheet.

But this is legal, because no law in the U.S. requires disclosure of all chemicals in consumer products, or of any chemicals in a mixture called "fragrance."

What about green products?

About half of the products made some claim of "green" or a related term, such as "organic," "natural," "essential oils," or "non-toxic."

But the "green product" emissions of toxic or hazardous chemicals were not significantly different from the other products.

What do these findings mean?

Previous studies have found that most of our exposure to pollutants occurs from common sources, such as consumer products.

However, the ingredients in these sources are not fully disclosed.

Thus, consumers may be unknowingly exposed to potential hazards.

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