Americans spend more than $25 billion on household cleaning products each year. But how much do we actually know about what’s inside the bottles under our sinks? Unfortunately, often not a lot.
If Gov. Jerry Brown signs Sen. Ricardo Lara’s Senate Bill 258, California would be the first state to have a cleaning product “right to know” law requiring disclosure of ingredients on labels and online so that consumers and workers know what is in the products they use every day and can make the right choice for them and their families.
Pick up a bottle of cleaner and you will find warnings about proper use and handling, but you probably will not see a list of ingredients. Unlike packaged food and cosmetics, no law requires clear labeling of cleaning product ingredients.
We believe people have the right to know the ingredients in cleaning products, too, and are strong supporters of SB 258. We think it is good for consumers, workers and business.
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Sen. Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and supporters met with many of the world’s largest manufacturers and their trade association to reach a compromise that raises the standards for transparency across the cleaning product industry.
SB 258 would give consumers ingredient information about known chemicals of concern, while ensuring that businesses can protect valid proprietary information for other chemicals.
Chemicals found in some cleaning products can be harmful. The California Department of Public Health notes that 10 percent of all work-related asthma cases are associated with cleaning products. Common chemicals also can cause allergic reactions. Ingredient disclosure is especially important for people who work with these products all day, such as domestic workers and janitors, and people with preexisting conditions like cancer or asthma.
Without mandatory ingredient labeling, people have no clear way of knowing if the cleaning products they are using contain chemicals that might trigger their allergies or pose a health concern. Transparency will spur innovation so that manufacturers will respond to consumer concerns by avoiding harmful ingredients.
California has been in the forefront of protecting consumers’ health. With leaders in Washington removing environmental protections, our leadership is critical. We urge the governor to sign the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act, SB 258.