CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

Health benefits of 'green' cleaning supplies emphasized

If the household cleaner smells noxious, it's probably toxic - so goes my philosophy.

The organ of smell has its evolutionary function, alerting us to hazards as well as predators.

The New York Times has now reported on the movement to replace toxic household chemicals with environmentally safer, 'green' ones:

'The growth may be fueled in part by reports linking chemicals found in cleaning supplies to health problems. A report in April 2006 on indoor air chemistry by the University of California at Berkeley for the California Air Resources Board found that some household cleaners may generate risks by giving off unsafe levels of toxic pollutants.'

Of course, the article cautions, not all P's are Q's: not all noxiously smelling cleansers are bad, and not all the ones labeled 'green' are good.

But here's the regulatory bottom line--a giant lacuna:

'There is no government organization that evaluates both conventional and "green" products and rates their safety. Enesta Jones, a spokeswoman for the Environmental Protection Agency, said it was not possible to say if "green" products are safer than traditional cleaners without knowing the specific product chemistry.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission requires the labels of products that are potentially life-threatening to include signal words like "danger," "poison," "warning" and "caution."

Federal law doesn't require full disclosure of all the chemical ingredients.'

An industry rep is quoted as saying that listing all 300 to 400 chemicals in the cleansing stuff would be "confusing" to consumers.

Not to mention a big turnoff. What about informed consumer choice?

On the horizon: 'A Kids Safe Chemicals Act, proposed in 2005, would require that all chemicals used in the home be evaluated for their safety to children, and require companies to list ingredients containing mutagens, hormone or endocrine disrupters, neurotoxins or carcinogens. Senator Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, said he planned to re-introduce the legislation this year.'

One individual interviewed in the article says his dog first alerted him to the toxic chemicals ... by having a reaction to them.

I figured that part out a while ago. We no longer use cat litter with all those chemicals. Free, fresh, healthy sand from the beach does just fine.
Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen offers general corporate legal services, litigation consultation, and expertise in health law with a unique focus on alternative, complementary, and integrative medical therapies.

Michael H. Cohen is Principal in Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen and also President of the Institute for Integrative and Energy Medicine (also known as the Institute for Health, Ethics, Law, Policy & Society), a forum for exploration of legal, regulatory, ethical, and health policy issues involved in the judicious integration of complementary and alternative medical therapies (such as acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine, chiropractic, massage therapy, herbal medicine) and conventional clinical care. The most recent published book by Michael H. Cohen on health care law, regulation, ethics and policy pertaining to complementary, alternative and integrative medicine and related fields is Healing at the Borderland of Medicine and Religion. This is the fourth book in a series, following Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives (1998), Beyond Complementary Medicine: Legal and Ethical Perspectives on Health Care and Human Evolution (2000), and Future Medicine: Ethical Dilemmas, Regulatory Challenges, and Therapeutic Pathways to Health Care and Healing in Human Transformation (2003).

Health care and corporate lawyer Michael H. Cohen has also been admitted to the Bar of England and Wales as a Solicitor (non-practicing), adding to Bar membership in four U.S. states.

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Michael H. Cohen, Esq.; 468 North Camden Dr. | Beverly Hills, California 90210 | 310-844-3173