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PEF members play role in household products ingredient transparency

By DEBORAH A. MILES 

DECcoupleConsumers today are more conscious of what is in their cleaning products, whether it is a laundry pod, dish soap or bathroom cleaner. While studies have shown that many of the chemicals are present in small amounts in household cleaning products, some have been associated with asthma, birth defects and fertility problems in higher doses. And even if the amounts are low, consumer groups have posed the question of what effects may arise after using these products over a lifetime.

In New York state, consumers purchasing household cleaning products will have an advantage because the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released a final policy in early June requiring makers of these products to disclose information about ingredients, byproducts and contaminants.

Emily Dominiak and John Vana played prominent roles in developing and finalizing the cleaning product ingredient disclosure program. They are examples of how the work of PEF members often improves the way we live.

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DEC hired Dominiak a year ago as an environmental engineering technician, assigning her to work on this program as a main part of her job.

“I provided technical assistance and research to answer the more detailed-orientated questions the manufacturers, environmental advocates and other stakeholders had throughout the development process, as we worked to get to a place where all stakeholders could agree on it as much as possible,” Dominiak said.

Vana explained that concern around phosphorous content in cleaning products prompted the adoption of a statute in the 1970s, that gave DEC broad authority to require manufacturers of cleaning products to provide information on their products.

“With growing interest from the public in knowing what chemicals are present in the products they use, DEC was able to utilize this statutory authority to move forward with a disclosure program,” said Vana, a professional environmental engineer 2.

“The final policy is the result of extensive and thorough study, involving discussions with numerous interested stakeholders.

“DEC has a unique statutory and regulatory authority that allows it to require disclosure of ingredients in cleaning products, DEC will oversee that manufacturers are disclosing the required information.”

The final policy includes requirements for manufacturers to disclose if the ingredients listed are chemicals of concern as defined by a listing by a state, national or international agency. The companies must also disclose 1, 4-dioxane and other byproducts and post any studies conducted on the health effects of its products or ingredients. The information to be disclosed will be phased in, with the initial disclosure required to be on the manufacturer’s website by July 1, 2019.

“California passed a similar law, but our program is still leading the nation,” Dominiak said. “Our program is stronger and will provide New Yorkers, as well as everyone in the country as the information will be posted online, information about the chemicals in products that are in their homes. It will help people be more informed as to what they are exposing their families to.”

To view the disclosure program, go to https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/109021.html.

Table of Contents – July-August 2018

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