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Nothing like the Smell of Safer Chemistry

2013 July 24
Jim Jones


July 24, 2013
4:17 pm EDT

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.

40 NEW Holding Spray Bottle

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.

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. Jim’s career with EPA spans more than 26 years. 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 views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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