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Hidden Hazards Not Labelled in “All-Natural” Products

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A University of Melbourne researcher has found that common consumer products, including those marketed as “green”, “all-natural”, “non-toxic” and “organic”, emit a range of compounds that could harm human health and air quality. However, the presence of these volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is not disclosed to the public.

Dr Anne Steinemann investigated and compared VOCs emitted from 37 different products, such as air fresheners, cleaning products, laundry supplies and personal care products, including those with certifications and claims of “green” and “organic”. Both fragranced and fragrance-free products were tested.

The study, published in Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health, found 156 different VOCs emitted from the 37 products, with an average of 15 VOCs per product. Of these 156 VOCs, 42 are classified as toxic or hazardous under US federal laws, and each product emitted at least one of these chemicals.

The study revealed that emissions of carcinogenic air pollutants from “green” fragranced products were not significantly different from regular fragranced products.

In total, more than 550 volatile ingredients were emitted from these products, but fewer than 3% were disclosed on any product label or material safety data sheet.

“The paradox is that most of our exposure to air pollutants occurs indoors, and a primary source is...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.