Who pulls the Material Safety Data Sheet on every product for your home, before you go shopping? Chances are, you'll learn a bit more than you would by relying on the product label to reveal everything you're about to expose your family to. How about some "inhalation may cause central nervous system effects?" That's on the MSDS for some of the most popular air fresheners -- the sort of thing my mother taught me to use around the home as a good housekeeping measure. Isn't inhalation what all of those happy families in the tv commercials are doing when they smell the pleasant air freshener scents in their living room?
Scientists and public health advocates at Women's Voices for the Earth think product makers should be more transparent about fragrance ingredients suspected of, at the very least, triggering allergic reactions. Apparently consumers in the European Union have the right to see certain allergens listed on their household products, while consumers in the United States do not. A product can simply list the word "fragrance" for any number of mystery ingredients.
WVE is calling out popular product maker SC Johnson for not doing more about fragrance transparency on its product labels. The company, to its credit, does post a master list of nearly 1,500 fragrance ingredients on its website in addition to posting MSDS information there. That's more than some companies do. But you still don't know what you're getting in a specific product. Check out this brand new spoof website
and commercial by WVE that uses humor to tell the stinky truth about fragrance secrets.
WVE is also teaming up with advocacy group SumOfUs.org
to deliver 50,000+ signatures from consumers who demand to know the ingredients in SC Johnson's secret scents.
I admit to not being the best housekeeper in the world. It's challenging to find time to clean with soap and water and old-fashioned elbow grease, and it's tempting to want to cover up the smell of an unkempt house with air freshener. Growing up with the demands of a modest family farm and an old farmhouse, I learned from my mom that all of those fresh-smelling cleaning and pest-control products, including air fresheners, were good for us. If my mother hadn't suffered and died so mysteriously from cancer I may never have started reading labels and wondering if everything I'd learned about keeping house was really good for families, after all.
Labels: babies, cleaning, conscious consumerism, environment, family, green, green cleaning, health, home, motherhood, parenting, safer chemicals