Thankfully, as I am raising my own children, a lot has changed, from our understanding of the science behind eco-friendly chemicals and products, to the products available to us as we seek to detoxify our homes and our world. And that’s a good thing: The average person spends 65% of their entire lifetime inside their home, according to a 2019 report from Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, making it a frontline space in your quest to avoid exposing your family to unnecessary chemicals.
While the food industry has come a long way in creating transparency, this unfortunately isn’t the case with cleansers. In a 2011 study, researchers investigated 25 common cleansers, laundry supplies and personal-care products using gas chromatography and found they emitted 133 different volatile organic compounds (VOCs), 24 of which were classified as toxic or hazardous under US laws. The surprising parts? Only one of these compounds was listed in the ingredients, and products labeled “green” did not fare better than conventional ones.
Part of the problem lies in the scant regulation around ingredient disclosure. In the US, for instance, ingredients listed as “fragrance” aren’t required to be disclosed on some product labels and, in fact, can be made up of several hundred substances.
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