From: Robina Suwol
Date: 30 Aug 2008
Remote Name: 18.104.22.168
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Last updated July 25, 2008 9:53 a.m. PT
Fresh Scent May Hide Toxic Secret
Innocuous-sounding 'perfume' in detergents, air fresheners made with dangerous chemicals
By LISA STIFFLER
(Editor's Note: An updated federal database no longer considers ethanol or chloromethane ossible carcinogens. The graphic that accompanies this story used older information, as did the University of Washington study.)
The scented fabric sheet makes your shirts and socks smell flowery fresh and clean. That plug-in air freshener fills your home with inviting fragrances of apple and cinnamon or a country garden.
But those common household items are potentially exposing your family and friends to dangerous chemicals, a University of Washington study has found.
Trouble is, you have no way of knowing it. Manufacturers of detergents, laundry sheets and air fresheners aren't required to list all of their ingredients on their labels -- or anywhere else. Laws protecting people from indoor air pollution from consumer products are limited.
When UW engineering professor Anne Steinemann analyzed of some of these popular items, she found 100 different volatile organic compounds measuring 300 parts per billion or more -- some of which can be cancerous or cause harm to respiratory, reproductive, neurological and other organ systems.
Some of the chemicals are categorized as hazardous or toxic by federal regulatory agencies. But the labels tell a different story, naming only innocuous-sounding "perfume" or "biodegradable" contents.
"Consumers are breathing these chemicals," she said. "No one is doing anything about it."
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