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Nothing like the Smell of Safer Chemistry

2013 July 24

Reposted from the EPA Connect

By Jim Jones

When buying cleaning products, you probably first look for a product that will get a particular job done, then compare prices. You might even smell the product, or look for a fragrance-free product. While you may choose a scent based on personal preference, if you care about product safety, it‘s worth taking a closer look at the specific chemicals that add scent to cleaning products.

In September 2012, EPA created a Safer Chemical Ingredients List to assist companies interested in making safer products and to increase public access to important chemical information. And announced today,  EPA has added 119 chemicals that add fragrance to the list of over 600 approved chemical ingredients.

The list is also useful to companies seeking EPA’s Design for the Environment Safer Product Label by providing them with a list of chemical ingredients that already meet EPA’s rigorous, scientific standard for protecting human health and the environment. Chemicals on the Safer Chemical Ingredients List can be used in Design for the Environment-labeled products. Design for the Environment is a voluntary program that involves industry, environmental groups, and academia working in partnership to help protect people and the planet by identifying safer chemicals and allowing safer chemical-based products to carry the Design for the Environment label.

Right now, more than 2,500 products carry the Design for the Environment Safer Product Label, including a range of all-purpose cleaners, laundry and dishwasher detergents, window cleaners, car care, and many other products. When you see the Safer Product Label on a product, it means the Design for the Environment scientific review team has screened each ingredient for potential human health and environmental effects and determined that the product contains only the safest chemical ingredients available.

Using Design for the Environment-labeled products is an important thing you can do to help reduce your family’s exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. Look for the label on products when you shop. You can be sure that these products are safer and work as well as they smell.

To view the Safer Chemical Ingredients List, visit

About the author: Jim Jones is the Acting Assistant Administrator of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. He is responsible for managing the office which implements the nation’s pesticide, toxic chemical, and pollution prevention laws. The office has an annual budget of approximately $260 million and more than 1,300 employees. Jim’s career with EPA spans more than 26 years. From April through November 2011, Jim served as the Deputy Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. He has an M.A. from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a B.A. from the University of Maryland, both in Economics.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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6 Responses leave one →
  1. George Patterson permalink
    July 24, 2013

    With the recent expansion of the Safer Chemical List, fragrance usage and industry practices should be expanded to all consumer, institutional and industrial products that are rinsed down the drain. The complete list provides Fragrance industry perfumers with enough materials to create appealing, fresh, lingering, unique and stable fragrance compounds that also have an improved environmental and personal care toxicity profile. The so-called consumer demand to constantly experience the latest toiletry trend in cleaners and soaps is a brand marketing technique to build purchase excitement. Fragrances do build brand interest and help encourage cleaning but lets all understand the greater importance and that is clean waterways for all.

  2. kris permalink
    July 26, 2013

    Excellent Informative article. Now onwards will look on the environment safe label on the product. Thanks Jim

  3. Enviro Equipment Blog permalink
    July 26, 2013

    Whenever possible, we try to always purchase and use eco-friendly products in our household and around our office. This new label will make it easier for folks like us, especially since it has the complete blessing of the EPA.

  4. Yakinican permalink
    August 2, 2013

    It’s important to pay attention to what material is used for treatment around us. If we use any chemicals endangering the very detrimental to the health of many people. Therefore, check before using the products that use chemicals. The above article really helped me to selectively choose the materials that I will use. Thank you for the information.

  5. Jon permalink
    October 9, 2013

    We all must buy eco friendly products only.

  6. Rachel Tyler permalink
    December 20, 2013

    Spills are really very harmful to us and to our environment. Whenever they happen we try to cleanup them fast otherwise they can give more harmful effects. i also know about some new oil/chemical spill control site that provide better results in spill cleanup with their effective products.

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