Sparkle & Smile

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Welcome to Maid Brigade’s New Blog Column

More and more “green” products and services have been introduced on the market lately, as more consumers become concerned with global warming and the environment.  That’s great – except when the product or service claims to be green when it really isn’t.  Green “washing” is when companies use exaggerated or inaccurate claims that can’t be substantiated with proof.  Green washing is on the rise, so much so that the FTC has accelerated their timetable for reviewing their marketing guidelines for green terms.  Ultimately this will help consumers make more informed choices for themselves and their families about green housecleaning and maid services but in the meantime, Maid Brigade can help clear up some of the confusion. 

“Green” housecleaning means using products, equipment and methods that are safer for human health as well as the environment while still being effective.  A common misconception is that cleaning products labeled “environmentally friendly” and even “non-toxic” are green.  Traditional cleaning products often contain harmful chemicals that may put you, your family and your pets at risk for health problems.  Products labeled non-toxic may not kill you, but many contain ingredients that are known or suspected carcinogens, neurotoxins, reproductive toxins, mutagens, or other harmful substances that can affect short or long-term health.  In short, non-toxic does not always mean not harmful.

For example, the consumer product Simple Green advertises that their product is non-toxic and biodegradable and according to widely recognized standards, it meets the stated criteria for both terms.  However, the main ingredient in Simple Green is 2-butoxyethanol, commonly known as butyl or 2-butyl.  According to Barry Rosenthal, category manager for Betco’s Green Earth cleaning product line, Butyl is listed as an OSHA Table Z Hazardous Substance.  He goes on to say that according to the National Toxicology Program (NTP), animal testing indicates chronic exposure could result in blood disorders, liver damage, and nervous system effects.  The EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) program has identified 2-butoxyethanol as having potential effects on blood, the central nervous system, kidneys and liver.  It may be green in color, but it’s not “green” by recognized standards.  That’s the simple truth about Simple Green.

Consumers looking for green housecleaning products to use in between Maid Brigade visits are advised to look for products that bear the Green Seal certification.  Alternatively, consumers can visit the Household Products Database (www.householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov) to learn which products and chemicals to avoid based on potential health hazards. 

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