The Value of Reading a Labelís Signal Words

What should I look for on labels, say for cleaning products, so that I can protect my familyís health?

One of the best ways to protect yourself from toxic products is to read labels and pay particular attention to ďsignal words.Ē They are placed on products by order of the federal government, with the primary purpose of protecting you, but sometimes to tell you about the productsí potential impact on the environment. POISON/DANGER means something very toxic; only a few drops could kill you. WARNING means moderately toxic; as little as a teaspoonful can kill. CAUTION denotes a product that is less toxic; two tablespoons to a cup could kill you. There are a few others, such as STRONG SENSITIZER, which means the product can cause multiple allergies.

The Environmental Health Foundation, in its book Toxic Turnaround, compiled a list of the top four chemical groups we should reject and eliminate. These four are pesticides, toxic gases (such as chlorine and ammonia), heavy metals (such as lead and mercury), and volatile organic compounds (such as formaldehyde and solvents). The guideline are an excellent starting point. If we eliminate these chemicals, we will go a long way toward solving our environmental and health problems. I add plastics as a fifth category because of the increasing evidence that many plastic component are endocrine disrupters, synthetic chemicals that our bodies receive as if they were natural hormones.


John L.
John Landau5 years ago

Look at these commercials for Febreze. They use actors who are blind-folded and or/ lying on the floor smelling the beautiful lovely chemical scent. This commercial borders on the absurd in order to sell their toxic poison. Finally, the commercial ends with a "Breathe Fresh" logo. How can one expect to "breathe fresh" when one is literally inhaling toxic fumes? Ultimately, the label is important in using good judgement, but WHO reads labels? People believe everything that they see on television. They believe these company's products are safe! Why else would they show actors sucking up chemicals through their noses? It's insane! How many parents with children who have asthma/respiratory illnesses purchase these products believing in their safety? OMG. Many do because they believe these idiots acting coo-coo. We have to STOP NOW being so gullible and re-in force label reading in the general public! Don't even get me started on those formaldehyde laden plug-in's that are unsuspectingly stealing the health of many Americans. All I can say is that when everyone starts coming down with MCS like I have (environmental illness), maybe we will wake up.

Sri V.
sri V5 years ago

This is good. But better still, combine this with suggestions on good branded substitutes or how to make a really good substitute at home.

Shelly Peterson
Shelly Peterson5 years ago

I remember reading this article here on Care2 a year and a half ago!!! I am so glad Care2 is showing it currently, again!!! EXCELLENT INFO!!!!
( I love Care2!)

Kelly Rogers
Kelly R5 years ago


Terry Vanderbush
Terry V5 years ago


Diana Roth
Diana Roth5 years ago

I will be paying a lot more information to this.

federico bortoletto
federico b6 years ago

Informazioni interessanti.

richa blue akasha
Raiin Blue6 years ago

thanks for the valued into :) I'm hoping more and more people will begin to understand hazards of these toxic products and switch to and demand cleaner, greener solutions for their homes and outside

Danuta Watola
Danuta W6 years ago

Thanks for posting.

Joe R.
Joe R6 years ago

I will pay more attention to these words.