According to new research from a nonprofit advocacy organization, the cleaning products you may be using around the house—even the “green” options—may be affecting your health.
In a peer-reviewed study by the Environmental Working Group, published in the journal ChemosphereScientists have discovered that everyday products can produce hundreds or VOCs.
VOCs are emitted in a wide range Thousands of productsAccording to the US Environmental Protection Agency, these include cleaning products, paints, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, and certain cosmetics.
“VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects,” according to the EPA's website.
In the EWG study, a total of 530 unique VOCs were detected in 30 cleaning products analyzed. These products were divided into three categories: “regular” products, “green” products with fragrances, and “green” unscented products.
Among the total VOCs detected, according to the study, 193 were considered hazardous to health based on the California Department of Toxic Substances Control Candidate Chemical List or the European Chemicals Agency's Classification and Labeling Inventory.
“Green” products still emitted VOCs, but at lower levels than their “conventional” counterparts.
Although the researchers did not name specific brands, they described “green” products as “advertised as healthier, non-toxic or free of harmful chemicals, as well as products that have third-party certification for safety or environmental characteristics.” “Regular” cleaners were those who fell outside this category.
On average, the study found that unscented “green” products released four chemicals classified as hazardous, compared to about 15 in fragranced “green” products and 22 in “regular” cleaning products.
“This study is a wake-up call for consumers, researchers and regulators to learn more about the potential risks associated with the many chemicals that enter our indoor air,” said Alexis Temkin, EWG's senior toxicologist. news release.
Temkin said he hopes the findings show a way to reduce exposure by “choosing products that are ‘green,' especially ‘green' and ‘unscented.'
The American Lung Association Also suggests adding ventilation when using VOC products indoors.
In a statement to CBS News in response to the study, the trade group American Cleaning Institute said the findings should be seen in the context of changes manufacturers have made to these products.
“The fact is that in California — which is cited in the study — regulators have imposed limits on VOCs in most consumer products over the past three decades,” the statement said. “Industry has worked with government and regulatory bodies for decades to minimize VOC concentrations so that they remain below hazardous levels.
The trade group also criticized the authors' “arbitrary criteria for rating products as ‘conventional' or ‘green.' “Green is a marketing term, not a scientific one.”
“The proper use of cleaning products contributes to public health and quality of life in homes, offices, schools, healthcare facilities, restaurants and our communities every day. Anyone who has dealt with the coronavirus pandemic can certainly recognize this fact.”