SC Johnson, the manufacturer of household cleaners like Glade, Pledge, Windex and Shout, recently made a huge step in the right direction by voluntarily listing fragrance ingredients found in its products on their website, called www.WhatsinsideSCJohnson.com. The move is designed to help consumers make more informed choices.
Ingredients in fragrances can cause a wide variety of health problems, ranging from mild headaches to more serious neurological, reproductive and behavioral disorders. Perhaps the greatest irony is that these harmful chemical ingredients don’t do anything to improve the efficacy of the product – they only introduce unnecessary risk!
The good news is, consumers have SOME of the information they need to make safe and healthy decisions for their families and for our environment. And that a major consumer packaged goods company is trying to get us the information we need in order to make informed choices. I applaud SC Johnson for leading this new and exciting disclosure movement that we, as consumers, have been waiting so long for, but in my opinion, this is just the first piece of the puzzle.
The bad news is, SC Johnson has gone about as far as it can go down the path toward full disclosure. Fragrance manufacturers are not disclosing all the chemical ingredients to SC Johnson because under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, household cleaners are the only household products for which manufacturers are NOT required to list all ingredients. Fragrances are considered trade secrets and this regulation protects such proprietary information. It doesn’t matter that the fragrance ingredients only make up less than 2% of a product’s entire formulation. Without full disclosure, consumers can unknowingly submit themselves and their families to unhealthy exposures to these chemicals.
Changes still need to be made! SC Johnson has gone as far as they could with disclosing chemical ingredients, but now the fragrance manufacturers have to do their part and allow ALL ingredients to be disclosed. Why? Because until there is FULL disclosure on product-specific ingredients, consumers still cannot make informed decisions about products for their families.
SC Johnson supposedly has strict parameters in place for their fragrance suppliers. They also claim they assess their fragrances for personal health and environmental risks before putting them into their products. However, in my opinion, if SC Johnson wants to truly lead the industry in disclosure, they need to stand their ground with their manufacturers on disclosing product-specific fragrances.
Also needed is new legislation. We as consumers must also let our voices be heard so that laws previously designed to protect manufacturers at the risk of the public can finally get re-written to protect the people that government is constitutionally charged to protect.
Even though SC Johnson has made great strides leading the ingredient disclosure movement, we still have no way of knowing what fragranced chemicals we are actually bringing into our homes. And without this information, our health is still on the line.