According to a report published in Environmental Health Perspectives, a study conducted by Silent Spring Institute found that numerous consumer products made by well-known brands and advertised as “green” products, actually contained hidden toxic chemicals associated with a wide range of known health problems.
According to a press release issued by the National Work Group for Safe Markets, the study was conducted at Battelle Labs in Ohio. It included the testing of so-called “green” products, and even household items that many consumers usually assume as completely safe for their health.
The study found that among numerous products – from children’s toys to pillow protectors – there were a total of 55 chemicals that are known to be connected to health problems such as asthma and endocrine (hormone) disruption.
Some of the products actually named in the study included Spic and Span, Swiffer WetJet Multi-Purpose Cleaner and Stop & Shop Pine Oil Cleaner Disinfectant, and laundry detergents made by Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Foodhold USA and Church & Dwight.
Sharyle Patton of the Biomonitoring Center at Commonweal told reporters that her organization discovered during the course of routine biomonitoring studies, that many people tested positive for BPA and Triclosan, two of the chemicals discovered in the Silent Spring Institute study.
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Some observers say that the findings show that corporations and manufacturers are not policing themselves appropriately when it comes to keeping toxic chemicals out of consumer products.
The Silent Spring study found that products from Colgate, Unilever, S.C. Johnson, Johnson and Johnson, and even Proctor & Gamble turned up toxic chemicals not listed on the product labels.
Women's Voices for the Earth, a consumer watchdog group, also conducted similar studies prior to the release of these findings, and told reporters that the Silent Spring Institute results were not a surprise.
"Test Results show conventional and 'green' products contain hidden toxic chemicals not on product labels; consumers have no way of avoiding them."
The Silent Spring study found about 55 of such chemicals, including triclosan, parabens, BPA and others. Federal guidelines are typically created on the assumption that exposure to low levels of these chemicals are not dangerous to human health, however consumer watchdog groups say that the effects of cumulative exposure to those chemicals may be causing many of the rising health problems in the U.S.
Mike Schade of the Center for Health, Environment & Justice told reporters:
"This study found PVC products, including a pillow protector and shower curtain, contained high levels of toxic phthalate DEHP. Phthalates, banned in toys, are widespread in many PVC products in schools and at home. Linked to asthma, impacts on brain development, and reproductive health problems in baby boys..."
Most of the environmental groups that have reviewed the study and offered public comments are calling for tighter federal regulations on companies to reduce the number of "untested and unlabeled" chemicals - many of which are not really necessary, or have safer alternatives that don't have the same risks to human health.
In many cases, the ultimate decision comes down to cost, and many companies are unwilling to invest in transitioning to the healthier alternatives because they are more costly. So long as the transition is not mandated by federal guidelines, companies will continue using the chemicals, regardless of the negative impact to the health of customers.