Legislation State laws Workplace exposures Manufacturing

‘Cleaning Product Right to Know Act’ becomes law in California

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Photo: roibu/iStockphoto

Sacramento, CA – Manufacturers of cleaning products sold in California will be required by law to disclose the existence of certain chemicals in their products, making the state the first in the nation to pass such legislation.

Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act of 2017 into law on Oct. 15. The law is intended to make it easier for California’s workers and consumers to identify what potentially dangerous ingredients are in commonly used cleaning products and fragrance mixtures. It also requires specified employers to provide that information to their employees.

The law requires ingredients to be shared on manufacturer websites by Jan. 1, 2020, and on labels one year later. Companies can protect trade secrets, but only if the chemicals they want hidden have not been linked to harmful effects on humans and the environment.

A recent study of nurses who developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease over an eight-year period found that those who used disinfectants to clean surfaces at least once a week had a 22 percent higher risk of developing COPD than those who did not.

Chemicals such as glutaraldehyde (used for medical instruments), bleach, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol and quaternary ammonium compounds (or “quats,” mainly used for disinfection of surfaces such as floors and furniture) were associated with an increased risk of COPD of between 24 percent and 32 percent.

Both the nonprofit organization Environmental Working Group and the National Institute of Health’s National Library of Medicine maintain online databases of cleaning product chemicals and their safety ratings.

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