by Jennie Saxe
How can a mundane task, like washing dishes, protect local waterways like the Delaware River? It’s simple! When you roll up your sleeves to scrub that lasagna pan, reach for a dish soap with EPA’s Safer Choice label. The Safer Choice label indicates products that have safer chemical ingredients and meet quality and performance standards.
Products with the Safer Choice label have been reviewed to make sure they use chemicals from EPA’s Safer Chemicals Ingredients List that do their specific job (for example, as solvents – needed to dissolve substances – or surfactants that remove dirt) and are safer for aquatic life after they go down the drain. Safer Choice labeled products, like laundry detergent and dish soap, are reviewed to make sure that their ingredients and the break-down products (or “degradates” for the chemists out there) are not carcinogens, toxics, or persistent in the environment.
If the products are “greener” when they go down the drain, they’ll have less of an impact on aquatic life if they do happen to make their way through the wastewater treatment process. There is even a subset of Safer Choice products that are labeled for use in situations, such as cleaning your boat, where they could be directly released to the environment.
Check out the list of products that have received the Safer Choice label, and look for them at a store near you!
About the author: Dr. Jennie Saxe joined EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region in 2003 and works in the Water Protection Division on sustainability programs.