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What’s In Your Cleaning Product? Answers Are On The Way

New reporting requirements for cleaning product makers will inform public about ingredients, potential hazards
People are exposed to chemicals in their homes and workplaces.

People are exposed to chemicals in their communities, homes and workplaces every day, but often lack access to critical information about the safety of these chemicals.

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April 25, 2017
Albany, NY —

Advocates lauded the release for public comment of a new format companies must use to disclose ingredients in cleaning products made for home and commercial use. Under a law passed in 1971, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has the authority to require disclosure of ingredients. This action by the DEC is the first time such companies will be required to divulge just what their products are made of. In his release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo reiterated his commitment to assess this program as a model for disclosures for other products.

“Laws that are not enforced are not worth the paper they’re written on,” said Deborah Goldberg, an attorney at Earthjustice.  “We are delighted to see the governor exercise his long-standing authority to protect New Yorkers’ health by requiring disclosure of ingredients in household cleaning products.”

With today’s release, the DEC is directing manufacturers to report on their websites all ingredients—including fragrances and dyes, as well as known contaminants or impurities. They must also inform the public if any of these ingredients are identified as causing or contributing to a host of health issues, such as cancer, learning and developmental disabilities, reproductive harm, asthma, and allergies. It also requires disclosing potential harm to the environment.

"Clean and Healthy New York celebrates New York's important action to require cleaning product makers to reveal what's in their products. For the first time, companies will also tell consumers about health hazards an ingredient may pose. This gives New Yorkers—and all consumers—freedom to choose safer, healthier products, and gives manufacturers a strong incentive to make products without harmful chemicals," said Kathy Curtis, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York. "We applaud Governor Cuomo's repeated commitment to use this as a model for other consumer products. Now more than ever, New York must lead."

“Studies have shown that toxic chemicals from cleaning products can be found in urine, breast milk, and blood—including the umbilical cord blood of newborns. Women need to know what chemicals they are being exposed to in order to make important decisions that may impact their health. We applaud Governor Cuomo for standing up for women’s health,” said Jamie McConnell, Director of Programs and Policy at Women’s Voices for the Earth.

“Full disclosure of all ingredients in cleaning products sold in NYS is a valuable new tool to accompany the state’s highly regarded green procurement program,” said Claire Barnett, Executive Director of Healthy Schools Network. "We congratulate the State on this action."

"Love Canal is infamous in New York's history because it exposed low income communities and communities of color to harmful toxic chemicals that negatively impacted the health of so many New Yorkers. Today, Governor Cuomo sent a clear signal for all in our country to see that in the new New York all communities will be protected, regardless of race or income, from harmful toxic chemicals whether they are in the products we use to clean our homes or in the dry cleaners cleaning our clothes. These new regulations couldn't have come at a better time because of Donald Trump's proposals to cut funding to the U.S. EPA, especially its Office of Environmental Justice. WE ACT for Environmental Justice applauds Governor Cuomo's leadership to protect vulnerable communities," said Cecil Corbin-Mark, Deputy Director and Director of Policy Initiatives for WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

This action by the Department of Environmental Conservation was spurred by Earthjustice’s legal efforts, on behalf of New York-based organizations, to have cleaning product companies comply with regulatory language developed in the 1970s. Numerous companies requested clarity on the form and extent of the required reporting. This form gives that direction.

The public can comment on the form for reporting through June 14th. Read the statement from the NYS DEC and the form with guidance.