By Richard Lenti
They’re some of the most popular cleaning products on the market: Windex, Tide, Pledge and Glade. And for years a consumer advocate group has complained that unlisted ingredients in them pose a serious threat to the health of consumers.
“S.C. Johnson, the massive chemical conglomerate that owns Glade, likes to brag that it’s committed to honesty and transparency. But it only discloses the contents of its fragrances in a single online master list with over 1,500 ingredients,” said Kaytee Riek, campaigns manager for SumOfUs.org
“It doesn’t say which chemicals appear in which products, so consumers have no way of knowing which products to avoid if they have allergies or small children.”
The petition comes after health advocates WVE commissioned an independent lab to test Glade for toxins, and found chemicals that have been linked to allergic reactions, birth defects, and increased risk of breast cancer.
The study also found that some of the harmful chemicals hidden in fragrances can build up in the body over time, and ultimately show up in blood and breast milk.
S.C. Johnson isn’t the only company to be caught in the cross hairs of the consumer and health care advocates.
The same group released a 2011 report claiming 20 popular cleaning products by five major companies were using toxic chemicals to enhance fragrance that were not listed on the products’ label.
The tested products manufactured by Clorox, Procter & Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser, S.C. Johnson & Son, and Sunshine Makers (Simple Green) included all-purpose cleaners, laundry detergents, dryer sheets, air fresheners, disinfectant sprays, and furniture polish.
“Some products contained reproductive toxins such as toluene and phthalates, carcinogens such as 1,4-dioxane and chloroform, and a hormone disrupting synthetic musk,” wrote lead author Alexandra Scranton.
“Several known allergens were also detected in these products, the highest levels of which appeared in fragranced air fresheners.”
Scranton and her research team say consumers deserve to know what chemicals they are being exposed to, so they can avoid products that may cause allergic reactions or serious long-term health problems like cancer, birth defects, or pregnancy complications.
They want Congress to pass new legislation that requires cleaning product manufacturers to disclose all the ingredients they use in their products directly on the product label. Currently, the listing of these ingredients is voluntary.
The organizers of the petition against S.C. Johnson are taking it a step further.
They are urging consumers to write the company, demanding it “to stop keeping secrets and let consumers know what chemicals are in its fragrances.”
“S.C. Johnson wants to be seen as a leader on transparency, and this is its chance to live up to that billing,” the petition states. “By labeling potentially harmful ingredients in Glade products, it can help set a new standard in the fragrance industry.”
On its website, S.C. Johnson says that it goes beyond industry standards when it comes to disclosure, providing “a list of and background on ingredients included in our individual products – where it’s fully legible and not squeezed into a small space that’s difficult to read and understand.”
“We were one of the first companies to make specific ingredient information available to our consumers,” the company states. “And why we remain committed to transparent communication with consumers about what ingredients are in our products.”