The Non-Toxic Times, January, 2000, Volume 1, Number 3


Everybody Loves A Mystery

Just ask Robert Stack: There's nothing like an unsolved mystery to get the blood going. So here's a megabyte of mysterious mayhem–The Case of the Clueless Consumer. Whodunnit? Our guess is Colonel Chemical in the cupboard with the cleaning product label. And here's why: most household cleaner labels just don't fess up to things the way they should. If there's one thing everyone should know about the labels on most household cleaners it's this: The most notable thing about them is what they're not telling you. Household cleaners are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a mission mandated by the 1960 Federal Hazardous Substances Labeling Act. According to the law, cleaning products need only tell you of any "immediate" hazard that might present itself should the product be incorrectly used. This is why you'll see the words "Danger", "Poison", "Warning", and "Caution" on product labels. (See Non-Toxic Times number 1). The law further stipulates that manufacturers must list (and we quote) "the common or usual or chemical name of the hazardous substance, or of each component, which contributes substantially to (this) hazard." That may sound okay, but we beg to disagree. Here's what's wrong with the all too pretty picture product labels paint:

The best bet when it comes to traditional cleaners is to look for alternatives made from natural ingredients and whose labels offer a full disclosure of all ingredients. If you read a label on any product and find that you've still got an unsolved mystery on your hands, put it carefully back on the shelf, back away slowly, and call Robert Stack. Then make a healthier choice.

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