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Simple Green Greenwash?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I came across this post from EcoChildsPlay today talking about the fact that Simple Green is greenwashing because it actually contains 2-butoxyethanol which is labeled as toxic in Canada and California, but isn't on the federal banned list. Apparently it can be absorbed through the skin and is known to cause to cause birth defects, fertility issues, nose and eye irritation, headaches, and vomiting.

 

 

Didn't see that one coming...

post #2 of 15

I have never heard of this brand but, I would never use anything that doesn't list it's ingredients right on the bottle or that were easily accessible on a website.  It's a sad reality that so many companies are jumping on the green band wagon and deceiving their customers into believing what they are buying is completely healthy or eco-friendly.

 

I guess on a positive note that one ingredient probably doesn't compare to the numerous toxic ingredients in traditional cleaners so it is a "step up" per say.

post #3 of 15

Yeah...there have been mumblings about how Simple Green isn't particularly green. 

 

In fact, broomhugger's review calls out that "it's made with 2-butoxyethanol (though the manufacturer states that the finished product isn't effected by the usual adverse characteristics of products made with 2-butoxyethanol). What it comes down to is that Simple Green's environmental footprint is pretty big, and if you're going to spend the money to buy something green, you might as well go with a product that's healthier."

 

greenUPGRADER's review calls out the same thing..."The biggest concern is that it contains 2-butoxyethanol, a substance that studies have shown can cause reproductive problems in animals. On the contrary, 2-butoxyethanol is said to decompose within a few days once in the environment, and it is not known to build up in organic hosts."

 

The MSDS (Materials Safety Data Sheet) for the all-purpose cleaner says, "The only ingredient of Simple Green® with established exposure limits is undiluted 2-butoxyethanol (<4%) (Butyl Cellosolve; CAS No. 111-76-2) [1% for Scrubbing Pad]: the ACGIH TLV-TWA is 20 ppm (97 mg/m3). Based upon chemical analysis, Simple Green® contains no known EPA priority pollutants, heavy metals or chemicals listed under RCRA, CERCLA, or CWA. Analysis by TCLP (Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure) according to RCRA revealed no toxic organic or inorganic constituents."

 

In terms of exposure limits it says, "The Simple Green® formulation presents no health hazards to the user when used according to label directions for its intended purposes. Mild skin and eye irritation is possible (please see Eye contact and Skin contact in section IV.) No special precautionary measures required under normal use conditions."

 

Of course...who really knows what low doses of 2-butoxyethanol will do.  But according to a 1986 study, "2-Butoxyethanol has long been known to be toxic, with early studies indicating that a single seven-hour exposure to 700 ppm was lethal to laboratory animal."

post #4 of 15

I do find it interesting that Simple Green apparently now has a "natural" line.  This comes from their website:

 

Simple Green Naturals are 100% naturally derived, coming from bio-organics: chicory, coconut, corn, palm, naturally occurring minerals, salt and sugar, and water. Nothing else.
 
Naturals are safe and effective products that offer:
• Zero synthetic ingredients • Zero synthetic fragrances
• Zero petroleum-derived ingredients • 100% sustainable ingredient sources
• Non-toxic formulations • Biodegradable formulations
• No animal testing • Full ingredient disclosure
• International scientifically-accepted ingredient names
• Naturals scents are IFRA compliant and made of 100% natural essential oils & plant extracts.
• 100% recyclable PETE plastic bottles with 25%+ post-consumer content, printed with soy inks

 

 

But upon further investigation, it appears nearly all of these "naturals" have sodium laureth sulfate.  Hm.


Edited by stins - Fri, 16 Jan 2009 16:19:37 GMT
post #5 of 15

 I knew it! I was using SImple Green to clean the cabinets and it always made me cough and it even hurt my lungs. It smelled horrible too, like its' totally filled with chemicals!

 

post #6 of 15

If you read the comments of that article as wel as do some legitimate scientific investigation you can find some useful information such as:

 

It seems that EGBE is considered toxic in Canada (http://www.ec.gc.ca/ceparegistry/subs_list/Toxicupdate.cfm and http://www.ec.gc.ca/TOXICS/EN/detail.cfm?par_substanceID=169&par_actn=s1) but they don’t restrict importing the ingredient only manufacturing of it.

 

EGBE is NOT considered toxic in California. Refer to the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (http://www.dtsc.ca.gov/database/CALTRIP/index.cfm) whose toxic chemical list actually refers you to the EPA Toxic Release Inventory Program Chemical List (most recent posted list is 2006 http://www.epa.gov/tri/trichemicals/chemical%20lists/RY2006ChemicalList.pdf) which does NOT list EGBE. It is also NOT listed as a toxic air contaminant in California (http://www.arb.ca.gov/toxics/id/taclist.htm).

 

If EGBE was known to cause birth defects it would be on California’s Prop 65 list (http://www.oehha.ca.gov/prop65/prop65_list/Newlist.html and http://www.oehha.ca.gov/prop65/prop65_list/files/P65single121908.pdf) which it is NOT.

 

The latest EPA review on EGBE was conducted in 1999 (Toxicological Review of Ethylene glycol monobutyl ether (EGBE)(2-Butoxyethanol) (PDF)) which states ““…Because of the known reproductive toxicity (i.e., toxicity to male testes and sperm) of two other glycol ethers, ethylene glycol methyl ether (EGME; 2-methoxyethanol) and ethylene glycol ethyl ether (EGEE; 2-ethoxyethanol), the reproductive toxicity of EGBE has been studied in a variety of well-conducted oral (Nagano et al., 1979, 1984; Grant et al., 1985; Foster et al., 1987; Heindel et al., 1990; Exon, 1991; NTP, 1993) and inhalation (Dodd et al., 1983; Doe, 1984; Nachreiner, 1994; NTP, 1998) studies using rats, mice, and rabbits. In addition, several developmental studies have addressed EGBE's toxicity from conception to sexual maturity, including toxicity to the embryo and fetus, following oral (Wier et al., 1987; Sleet et al., 1989), inhalation (Nelson et al., 1984; Tyl et al., 1984) and dermal (Hardin et al., 1984) exposures to rats, mice, and rabbits. In many instances, LOAELs and NOAELs were reported for both parental and developmental effects, therefore the developmental studies can also be used to assess systemic toxicity as well as developmental toxicity.

 

EGBE did not cause adverse effects in any reproductive organ, including testes, in any study. In a two-generation reproductive toxicity study, fertility was reduced in mice only at very high, maternally toxic doses (> 1000 mg/kg). Maternal toxicity related to the hematologic effects of EGBE and relatively minor developmental effects have been reported in developmental studies. No teratogenic toxicities were noted in any of the studies. It can be concluded from these studies that EGBE is not significantly toxic to the reproductive organs (male or female) of parents, nor to the developing fetuses of laboratory animals.”

 

The European Commission’s review in 2008 on EGBE (http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_scher/docs/scher_o_087.pdf) concluded that “Overall, it can be assumed that developmental toxicity due to EGBE in humans could not be expected without maternal toxicity.” Which basically says if you are ever exposed to enough EGBE to kill a pregnant mother then it will kill the developing fetus as well.

 

Honestly, just because you don’t know what the low doses of EGBE will do doesn’t mean regulatory bodies and scientists have no idea either. Obviously this ingredient has been studied for at least 20 years since you’ve posted a 1986 report. Since you’re calling out hazards of single components you might as well call out acetic acid (8-15% of vinegar) for its occupation asthma, skin sensitization, lung disease, nose and eye irritation, headaches and vomiting (http://www.osha.gov/dts/chemicalsampling/data/CH_216400.html). As I’m sure we’re all exposed to a lot more vinegar over our lifetime than Simple Green.

 

I think we can all agree that is just silly since you’re only exposed to 8% acetic acid a few minutes of a few days of each year - not thousand gallon vats for 8 hours a day for years on end. However, if you make the acceptation for acetic acid, then logically you’ll need to allow that acceptation for all other chemicals as well. The exposure limits might be different, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

 

EGBE might not be plant derived, but it certainly doesn’t seem to have all the hazards associated with it that you’ve mentioned. I’ve never seen the container claim that it was 100% natural or organic in any way.  

 

post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cafeinita:

 I knew it! I was using SImple Green to clean the cabinets and it always made me cough and it even hurt my lungs. It smelled horrible too, like its' totally filled with chemicals!

 

Yes, I find that the sniff test is the best! If it's irritating, it's not good...

 

I am starting to get really miffed with all the greenwashing going around. We now have to be more vigilant than ever...

post #8 of 15

Unfortunately, there are so many products out there just like this one that have been greenwashed.  It's very irritating, but the best indicator of a fake is when you can't find an ingredients list on the product.  The best way to avoid greenwashing in cleaning products is to not buy them!  I do all of my cleaning with vinegar, baking soda, and washing soda.  There is no greenwashing in that.  Unfortunately, there is still the issue of personal care products.  They list their ingredients because they have to, and you have to have a ton of information on-hand to make sure that you're truly getting something all-natural.  Perhaps one of these days there will be a strict regulation on that...

post #9 of 15

Deej (and others). In my opinion the best type of product to use is an EPA registered Disinfectant & Cleaner. I say this because the EPA classifies such product by toxicity categories. They use a scale of 1 - 4 with 1 being the most toxic and 4 being the least toxic. A product that meets EPA requirements for Toxoicity Category IV requires no hazard warnings except "Keep Out of the Reach of Children". It would not say things like "wear protective eyewear, gloves or special clothing"  or state that it has to be used in a well ventilated areas.  You want to look for products that do not use quats or contain high levels of alcohol or bleach as active ingredients. I hoep everyone is having a good day...

post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by loren:

Unfortunately, there are so many products out there just like this one that have been greenwashed.  It's very irritating, but the best indicator of a fake is when you can't find an ingredients list on the product.  The best way to avoid greenwashing in cleaning products is to not buy them!  I do all of my cleaning with vinegar, baking soda, and washing soda.  There is no greenwashing in that.  Unfortunately, there is still the issue of personal care products.  They list their ingredients because they have to, and you have to have a ton of information on-hand to make sure that you're truly getting something all-natural.  Perhaps one of these days there will be a strict regulation on that...

Hi Loren...Once again as I said in my prevoius post to Deej, you are better off using a Disinfectant Cleaner since such products are required to be registered with the EPA and they must have the details of their ingredients on the label. Cleaners are not controlled by the EPA. Personal Care products are controlled by the FDA. Hope this helps.

post #11 of 15

Geesh...as many others here are obviously equally frustrated, the companies and marketing departments behind these products continually insult our intelligence. But many people keep getting sucked into it and buying them. It is such a joke.

 

As for the federally banned list mentioned, that's a joke, too. It is so far behind it is essentially useless.

 

A little tip that we all need to pass along is that when a product focuses primarily on what's NOT in it, and does not provide a FULL ingredient list - move on.


Another thing to consider: The manufacturer/formulator can list ingredients they are using that sound great. BUT, does that tell us what THEIR suppliers used in producing that ingredient? No way. We are as blind as bats.

 

Loren, Good for you. A note though: The games that the personal care formulators play are some of the best. They know every trick in the book to deceive you and are exceedingly good at playing them. The level of regulation you refer to is a LONG way away. btw: Have you tried soap nuts? Check out http://www.soap-nuts.info

 

The lady that started this site has found more uses for soap nuts than you can imagine. And it doesn't get greener (real green) than soap nuts. They are unprocessed dried fruits for gosh sakes! I've been amazed by their cleaning power.

 

Keep it up, folks! The day will come when quality products are readily available and we can trust them to be what they say they are. Until then, that's why we were given a brain. We just have to use it.

post #12 of 15

I have seen this in the stores before but I never even associated it with being an actual "green" product line.  I just thinght they called it that because of the color of the product.  So, I never even tried it and I'm glad I didn't.

post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by justthefacts:

Geesh...as many others here are obviously equally frustrated, the companies and marketing departments behind these products continually insult our intelligence. But many people keep getting sucked into it and buying them. It is such a joke.

 

As for the federally banned list mentioned, that's a joke, too. It is so far behind it is essentially useless.

 

A little tip that we all need to pass along is that when a product focuses primarily on what's NOT in it, and does not provide a FULL ingredient list - move on.


Another thing to consider: The manufacturer/formulator can list ingredients they are using that sound great. BUT, does that tell us what THEIR suppliers used in producing that ingredient? No way. We are as blind as bats.

 

Loren, Good for you. A note though: The games that the personal care formulators play are some of the best. They know every trick in the book to deceive you and are exceedingly good at playing them. The level of regulation you refer to is a LONG way away. btw: Have you tried soap nuts? Check out http://www.soap-nuts.info

 

The lady that started this site has found more uses for soap nuts than you can imagine. And it doesn't get greener (real green) than soap nuts. They are unprocessed dried fruits for gosh sakes! I've been amazed by their cleaning power.

 

Keep it up, folks! The day will come when quality products are readily available and we can trust them to be what they say they are. Until then, that's why we were given a brain. We just have to use it.

I have heard many mothers RAVE about Soap Nuts for washing their cloth diapers.  Unfortunatally, I use Bum Genius brand diapers and they told me not to use Soap Nuts.  (Not sure why).  So, I use Country Save which is all natural.

post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by jsbklyn:
Quote:
Originally Posted by loren:

Unfortunately, there are so many products out there just like this one that have been greenwashed.  It's very irritating, but the best indicator of a fake is when you can't find an ingredients list on the product.  The best way to avoid greenwashing in cleaning products is to not buy them!  I do all of my cleaning with vinegar, baking soda, and washing soda.  There is no greenwashing in that.  Unfortunately, there is still the issue of personal care products.  They list their ingredients because they have to, and you have to have a ton of information on-hand to make sure that you're truly getting something all-natural.  Perhaps one of these days there will be a strict regulation on that...

Hi Loren...Once again as I said in my prevoius post to Deej, you are better off using a Disinfectant Cleaner since such products are required to be registered with the EPA and they must have the details of their ingredients on the label. Cleaners are not controlled by the EPA. Personal Care products are controlled by the FDA. Hope this helps.


 

Actually, I'm better off cleaning with the vinegar, baking soda, and washing soda like I mentioned in my comment.  Vinegar actually is a disinfectant when it is used straight (a lot of people don't realize that).  That's why I use it, along with baking soda and washing soda, for all of my cleaning.  No need to worry about EPA ratings or what ingredients might be in your cleaner that way.

 

Also, the problem with the FDA is that they have no regulations on natural and organic products, so your shampoo (for example) may be labeled as organic when, in fact, it contains only one organic ingredient and may still be loaded with parabens, SLS, and other toxins.  That's why I said you have to have full knowledge (or one heck of a list on hand) to know what you're actually getting.  I think personal care products are the worst at greenwashing, even more so than all those cleaner companies that claim to be green.  I agree if you're not going to clean with things like the vinegar that you know are natural, you're probably better off going by the EPA rating because most "green" cleaners don't list ingredients so you really have no idea what you're getting.  Unless, of course, you are willing to research or call the company first to find out what their ingredient list is.

post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by justthefacts:

 

 

Loren, Good for you. A note though: The games that the personal care formulators play are some of the best. They know every trick in the book to deceive you and are exceedingly good at playing them. The level of regulation you refer to is a LONG way away. btw: Have you tried soap nuts? Check out http://www.soap-nuts.info

 

The lady that started this site has found more uses for soap nuts than you can imagine. And it doesn't get greener (real green) than soap nuts. They are unprocessed dried fruits for gosh sakes! I've been amazed by their cleaning power.

 

Keep it up, folks! The day will come when quality products are readily available and we can trust them to be what they say they are. Until then, that's why we were given a brain. We just have to use it.


 

Actually, I've not tried soap nuts, though I've heard a lot about them.  A lot of people boil them and use them for laundry soap, but I actually make my own laundry detergent (powdered) out of castile soap, washing soda, and baking soda.  And I throw in a splash of vinegar to help hold the color.  A lot of people use vinegar in place of a softener, but I like it's dye-retaining value.  Nothing irritates me more than faded clothing!  And for stains I use what is basically homemade oxy-clean made from hydrogen peroxide and washing soda. 

 

I also have a group on cafemom about food and product additives and their effects.  Every once in a while I pick a product and research as many brands as I can to find which are truly green and which are liars.  I recently did one on toothpaste and it actually made me mad the number of toothpaste brands I found claiming to be natural and actually trying to hide ingredients.  They would list an ingredient and then say (derived from _____), to make it sounds natural.  For example, Tom's of Maine listed: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (derived from coconut oil).  They tried to play it off like sodium lauryl sulfate was actually a natural, safe ingredient!  That product got a very bad mark on the toothpast list, that's for sure!!

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