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Source: Newsday

Rep. Israel bill wants cleanser ingredients listed

BY JENNIFER SMITH

Posted: July 7, 2009
Originally Published: July 6, 2009

Photo of Adrienne Esposito, Karen Joy Miller, and Congressman Steve Isreal.

Household cleaners would have to carry labels with a full list of their ingredients including potentially harmful chemicals under federal legislation introduced by Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) that would revamp what manufacturers must disclose on such everyday products. Above, Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment and Karen Joy Miller, Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, looked over product labels with Israel on Monday when the new legislation was announced.

Household cleaners would have to carry labels with a full list of their ingredients - including potentially harmful chemicals like hydrochloric acid - under proposed federal legislation that would revamp what manufacturers must disclose on such everyday products.

Modeled after federal labeling requirements for food and cosmetics, the legislation aims to give consumers more information about what exactly is inside those containers under the sink or in the garage. The Consumer Product Safety Commission would enforce the labeling requirements of the bill, which was introduced recently by Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington).

"You spray it on your countertops, you splash it on your floors and like it or not, you are ingesting it," Israel said at a news conference Monday in the parking lot of a Plainview shopping center.

"You have the right to know what's in these products," he said, gesturing toward a table laden with detergents, toilet bowl cleaner and tile spray.

Israel said he hoped the bill - which he believes is the first of its kind - would pass this congressional session.

It has met with some resistance from industry groups such as the Washington, D.C.-based Soap and Detergent Association, which is working on a voluntary plan to give consumers more information about product contents.

"We believe that with the plan we have already introduced, such legislation would not be necessary," said Brian Sansoni, the group's vice president for communication.

But local environmental and breast cancer advocates said the Israel bill would help shoppers minimize their exposure to chemicals that can irritate skin and trigger or exacerbate health problems such as asthma.

"We pick up these products every day, we don't use gloves, and they go right through your hands," said Karen Joy Miller of the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition.

Of particular concern is a class of chemicals known as NPEs, or nonylphenol ethoxylates. Used in some detergents and industrial cleansers to lift surface dirt, NPEs are thought by some scientists to mimic estrogen. Studies have linked NPE residues, which wash into waterways from sewage treatment plants, to hormonal disruption in fish and marine life.

"This issue is not only about public health, it's about protection of the environment," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment in Farmingdale.