Sustainable Milestone: California’s Cleaning Product Legislation

Times are changing for the better! With information so readily available to the public, everyday citizens such as yourself now have the ability to voice your desire to know exactly what you are buying and surrounding yourself with. And with this demand for transparency, California is all ears.

With the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act of 2017, manufacturers of products sold in the state of California are required to disclose on the product label and on the internet online any chemical ingredients and would prohibit the sale of products that do not satisfy these requirements in the state. Along with this, this bill would require an employer that is required to make a safety data sheet readily accessible to an employee pursuant to that standard to make readily accessible in the same manner, for designated products in the workplace, certain information included in the online disclosures.

Sounds complicated, right? Well, not necessarily.

As a summarized breakdown, this California law basically means that household cleaning products are now required in the state of California to disclose any hazardous chemical ingredients that may be dangerous or that may be common allergens. Before this law existed, companies had the ability to strategically keep the use of harmful chemicals hidden. However, under this new law, a list of required disclosures must be in effect by January 1, 2020, and include:

• Intentionally added ingredients
• Nonfunctional ingredients present at a concentration of .01% or greater
• The Chemical Abstracts Service number must be listed, and if it is not available it must be stated as such
• The functional purpose of each intentionally added an ingredient
• Links to the hazard communication safety data sheet
• Fragrance ingredients and their respective information.

In a statement made by State Senator Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens, “People around the country and especially Californians are demanding more disclosure about the chemicals in products we use. The science is clear, and we have seen the data about how cleaning product chemicals affect parents, children, people with pre-existing conditions and workers who use these products all day every day.”

And Bill Allayaud, the Environmental Working Group’s California director of government affairs says, “Consumers and professional cleaners will be able to breathe easier knowing the ingredients in their household and institutional cleaning products. The demand for transparency is growing, as people, workers and business owners want to make informed decisions about the cleaning products they choose to purchase and use.”

What with common chemicals found in day to day cleaning products rumored to be significant causes of health issues such as cancer, and birth defects, the need for transparency in regards to toxicity and chemical transparency is vital to living an educated and preventative life. This new law allows consumers to shop in a way that aligns with their values and beliefs, and makes them more aware of the consequences of certain products. While some companies may feel frustrated about the new law, there is little reason for there not to be absolute transparency about what they are choosing to put into their products. Educated decision making is on the rise, and this law passed by California is the first of many steps in the right direction.

Lieve Falck-Pedersen