Air pollution, caused by industrial practices and every day activities like driving, has been shown to pose a threat to human health. But many people don’t realize that the dirtiest air isn’t necessarily found on a street corner in New York City, or in rush hour traffic in Los Angeles: it’s inside their homes and offices.
Common products like household cleaners, disinfectants and air fresheners release chemical toxins into the air almost continuously from the time they are used.
The EPA reports that inadequate ventilation and higher temperatures in indoor environments can concentrate these chemicals and increase their toxicity, even though you’re unlikely to find any warnings about this on the label.
Now, in an attempt to increase it’s transparency and decrease the environmental impact of it’s products, the Clorox Company has launched a new Web site that details ingredients for more than 230 cleaning, disinfecting and auto care products.
Best known for its bleach and iconic brands like 409, Liquid-Plumr and Pine-sol, the company is trying to continue a policy of communicating about ingredients that started with the launch of its “plant based” GreenWorks line in January of 2008.
But a quick look at the new “corporate social responsibility” website leaves one with uncomfortable questions about whether consumers are really getting more information about the potentially harmful ingredients in these Clorox products.
Clicking on the “Ingredients Inside” link brings the consumer to a easy-to-navigate page of all the Clorox brands. Select one, and a list of ingredients pops into view. It doesn’t take long to realize that these lists seem oversimplified and incomplete; telling you what the ingredients DO, but not what they can DO TO YOU.
A little more investigation will reveal Material Safety Data Sheets for each product, but when compared to the ingredients lists on the CSR site, it’s astonishing to note that most of the “hazardous ingredients” aren’t even mentioned.
Is this really living up to Clorox’s self-proclaimed mission to “focus on integrity and quality, guided by our core value of doing the right thing every single day”?
Just the fact that the public can now access these data sheets is a small victory, but despite these efforts, labels will continue to be confusing and misleading for customers that don’t take the time to conduct their own investigations.
And for those who think they can avoid the whole issue of label transparency by choosing the GreenWorks line of products instead, a word of caution: Critics argue that since no industry standard definitions currently exist for natural cleaners, Green Works is simply deeming itself green against its own standards – a dangerous trend to set.
Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons - by rubberglovelover