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Originally published June 22 2010

Activists are attempting to force consumer product companies to reveal the chemicals in their products

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Health and environmental activists have filed a lawsuit to force manufacturers to disclose the ingredients of household cleaning products.

Consumers "want access to the information so they can determine the kind of chemicals that they are introducing into their homes and whether there are any risks associated with them," Keri Powell, an attorney for the environmental group Earthjustice.

Other lawsuit participants include the Sierra Club and the American Lung Association.

Some cleaners are required to carry hazard labels by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, while the National Institutes of Health has used industrial data to make some health and safety information on many products public. Yet beyond these key exceptions, federal law does not require manufacturers of household cleaning products to make the ingredients of those products publicly available.

Awareness and concern over these hidden ingredients is growing, perhaps best demonstrated by the recent uproar over the plastics and resin ingredient bisphenol A, which has been linked to hormonal and reproductive problems, particularly in children. Other findings of concern include studies linking cleaning products to asthma, hormonal problems and antibiotic resistance. Responding to this trend, a Senate subcommittee recently held a hearing into public toxic chemicals exposure.

Although a win in the New York case would only change the law in that state, the plaintiffs hope that a victory could help galvanize a national movement and create pressure for changes to federal legislation.

The 1971 law in question allows the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to make manufacturers disclose ingredients and any relevant safety data. It does not require such disclosure, however -- something the lawsuit hopes to change.

Manufacturers have sought to avoid new regulations through a voluntary online disclosure program. Yet environmental and health advocates have warned that these measures do not go far enough, allowing companies to hide behind vague ingredient labels such as "fragrance" or "dye."

"We must be careful about exposures for all household chemicals," Sierra Club member Joseph A. Gardella Jr. said.

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