One of the first “green” cleaning products I ever used was Simple Green. I would clean carpets, cars, bathtubs, floors, etc. with this green liquid. I even converted my mother to a Simple Green user. As I became “greener”, I switched to homemade cleaning products and greener labels.[social_buttons]
It is only recently that I began to wonder if Simple Green really is as ecologically friendly and safe as the name of this cleaning product implies.
Carcinogens: No ingredients are listed by OSHA, IARC, or NTP as known or suspected carcinogens.
The only ingredient of Simple Green with established exposure limits is undiluted 2-butoxyethanol (<4%)
Swallowing; Essentially non-toxic.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): Cleaner meets CARB & BAAQMD regulations. Cleaner must be diluted 1:1 with water to Meet SCAQMD Rule 1171 & Rule 1122 VOC requirements for solvent cleaning operations.
This material contains 2-Butoxyethanol, < 4%, (CAS# 111-76-2) which is subject to the reporting requirements of Section 313 of SARA Title III and 49 CFR Part 373.
I’m not sure what “essentially non-toxic” means, but it is enough to make Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE), as reported on Care2, be concerned:
The Dirt on Cleaning Chemical Companies report card about Sunshine Makers Inc./ Simple Green was that their product ingredient disclosure received a D+; their responsiveness to consumer concerns received an F; their toxic chemicals screening process received a D+; the toxic chemicals in their products received a C; the number of cleaning products on the market was 15; and the number of products that contain chemicals of concern were eight. The chemical of biggest concern cited by WVE is 2-butoxyethanol.
2-butoxyethanol is found in many household cleaning products, but without required full disclosure, consumers often don’t they are being exposed to it. At least Simple Green admits it is in their product on the MSDS; however, this chemical is known to cause birth defects, fertility issues, nose and eye irritation, headaches, and vomiting.
2-butoxyethanol is easily absorbed through the skin, which is the leading pathway for exposure. It is not listed on the EPA’s list of hazardous air pollutants, but California and Canada list it as toxic.
According to Wikipedia:
William Nazaroff, a professor of environmental engineering and chairman of the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley, has argued that EGBE should have remained on the federal contaminants list, and concluded in a study that the use of some common household cleaning products containing EGBE could expose people to levels 12 times greater than California’s one-hour guideline, especially when indoor use is considered. These products are not required to list it on the label when diluted to a certain point.
This does not sound like a chemical that belongs in a green cleaner to me. I rarely wear rubber gloves when cleaning, and I certainly don’t want 2-Butoxyethanol entering my body. I would never let my children help me clean with such a chemically ladened product. I feel like I have been simply greenwashed by Simple Green.
Image: Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE)