New York to Require
Disclosure of Chemicals in Cleansers
York, September 9, 2010 (ENS) - The State of New York is changing its
policy to begin requiring manufacturers of cleaning products to reveal
the chemical ingredients in both domestic and commercial cleansers and
the health risks they may pose.
While state law authorizes the government to require
semi-annual ingredient disclosure reports, state officials have never
exercised this authority.
Commissioner Pete Grannis, who heads the state
Department of Environmental Conservation, announced the agency's new
policy in a letter of invitation to stakeholders to attend a planning
meeting set for October 6 in Albany.
Grannis wrote, "Due to
increased public interest in such information, I have decided to begin
the process of implementing the Department's authority to require
manufacturers of domestic and commercial household cleansing products
distributed, sold or offered for sale in the state to disclose the
ingredients of their products..."
Credit for the move is
claimed by public health and environmental advocates, who have urged the
DEC to enforce the disclosure requirements.
cleansers can enter the body through the skin and by
Last year, on behalf of Women's Voices for the
Earth, Environmental Advocates of New York, New York Public Interest
Research Group, Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, and American Lung Association
in New York, the nonprofit law firm Earthjustice sued household cleaning
giants Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, Arm Hammer parent
company Church and Dwight and Lysol-maker Reckitt-Benckiser for failing
to submit required semi-annual ingredient reports.
A New York
State Supreme Court judge dismissed the lawsuit last month without
ruling on the merits of the groups' claims. During the court case, the
companies said they would file disclosure reports if required to do so
by the state.
"By making the companies come clean about what is in
their products, New York State is initiating an age of greater
transparency and is empowering people to protect themselves and their
families," said Earthjustice managing attorney Deborah Goldberg, who
will be handling a likely appeal of the case against the cleaning
Independent studies show a link between many
chemicals commonly found in cleaning products and health effects ranging
from nerve damage to hormone disruption. With growing concern about the
potential hazards of chemicals in these products, the advocates mounted
a campaign pressing the state to uphold consumers' right to know and
begin enforcing the 33-year-old law.
"Full ingredient disclosure
is a critical step toward ensuring safer, healthier products," said
Kathy Curtis, policy director from the organization Clean New York.
"Consumers around the country will benefit from New York's
Earthjustice points out that cleaning product
manufacturers are taking notice of the changing climate toward toxics in
products. In response to a letter sent by the groups involved in the
court case, several companies, including the California-based Sunshine
Makers, Inc., manufacturers of Simple Green products, filed reports with
the State of New York for the first time.
after the disclosure lawsuit was filed, household cleaner manufacturing
giant SC Johnson announced that it would begin disclosing the chemical
ingredients in its products through product labels and online.
"It's high time
that New York State enforces the law and holds cleaning product
manufacturers accountable for the dangerous chemicals in their products.
We applaud the Department of Environmental Conservation for taking this
long-awaited action," said Saima Anjam on behalf of Environmental
Advocates of New York.
New York's new policy could have national
implications, as momentum builds for toxic chemical reform. Congress is
considering legislation to overhaul U.S. chemicals policy and in July
debated a bill forcing the chemical industry to prove the safety of a
chemical before it could be used in products.
Action Against Breast Cancer! Program Coordinator Margaret Roberts said,
"Many chemicals in cleaning products and air fresheners are endocrine
disruptors which are suspected of having links to cancer, and which
alter mammary gland development in animal studies. The public has the
right to know if some of the potentially harmful chemicals of concern,
such as alkyphenols, terpenes, benzene, some antimicrobial agents and
certain synthetic musks are in the products they use."
somebody with breast cancer," said Huntington Breast Cancer Action
Coalition President Karen Miller. "While researchers are connecting the
dots between toxic exposure found in products we use every day,
regulatory agencies must step up the pace to provide consumers with the
right to know what they are bringing into their homes."
Internationally, companies must comply with a European law, known as
REACH, which stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and
Restriction of Chemical substances. REACH became law across the European
Union in June 2007.
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