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Potential hazards hidden in ‘green’ cleaning products, study finds

Commonly used cleaning and personal care products marketed as “green” might not be as environmentally-safe as they claim to be, a new study found this week.

100 percent of goods labeled “natural,” “organic,” “non-toxic,” or certified as green in the study gave off at least one potentially toxic chemical, according to the findings published in the journal of Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health on Wednesday.

“The paradox is that most of our exposure to air pollutants occurs indoors and a primary source is consumer products,” said Dr. Steinemann said in a press release, “but the public lacks full and accurate information on the ingredients in these products. Our indoor air environments are essentially unregulated and unmonitored.”

For the study, Dr. Anne Steinemann of the University of Melbourne, Australia, along with a team of research assistants analyzed 37 items — 17 of which were “green” —  including shampoos, hand sanitizers, air fresheners and laundry detergents used and sold throughout Australia and the United States.

In total, they found the items emitted 156 different kinds of organic chemicals, 42 of which are classified as toxic by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Less than six percent of those hazardous chemicals were mentioned on product labels.

In the U.S., labels for air fresheners, cleaning supplies and laundry products, regulated under the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Act, do not need to include all of the ingredients or fragrances.

According to the EPA, air pollutant levels indoors may be two- to five- and from time to time, even 100-times greater than levels outdoors.

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