Some trash talk about cleaning products

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Yet another previously unknown anti-chemical environmental group has issued a scare screed alleging that hidden toxic chemicals in various household cleaning products may be poisoning us without our knowledge.

Dirty Secrets: What s Hiding in Your Cleaning Products? is a new report by Women s Voices for the Earth (WVE). And if you haven t heard of them, you might soon hear of the proposed legislation they support, called the Cleaning Products Right to Know Act. This bill would require household cleaning products to list all their ingredients on their labels, lest users be unknowingly exposed to the products so-called toxic chemicals. Phthalates, galaxolide, and 1,4-dioxane are just a few of the allegedly carcinogenic and hormone-disrupting ingredients people should fear while cleaning their homes with products such as Pledge, WVE says.

But until the act passes Congress, how can you keep yourself safe from these toxic cleansers? Well that s easy: Just make your own cleaning products! WVE suggests combining vinegar and baking soda to make your own all-natural and safe cleaners. ACSH's Dr. Josh Bloom wonders about the level of scientific sophistication of the group dispensing this advice. They somehow neglected to mention that vinegar and baking soda react vigorously with each other, and if you mix them in a bottle and cap it, the resulting explosion might blow your head off. But the main point to be made about this advice is, Why bother? The chemicals in cleaners that so upset these folks have been used for decades without inducing disease in anyone. Parents should be careful not to allow their little ones access, since ingesting them can surely be dangerous. Otherwise, this alarmist warning should be ignored as a distraction from real concerns.

As ACSH advisors Dr. Allison A. Muller and Jay Lehr both point out, it s the dose that makes the poison. There is no thought or science behind how the amount of phthalates, dioxanes, and other chemicals would be capable of causing any of the horrific health issues listed by the author, says Dr. Muller. And Lehr had this to add: The concentration of chemicals in cleaners has no effect on humans unless they have severe allergies, in which case they should indeed read all the label's ingredients.