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  • Simple Green claims to be “non-toxic, biodegradable and environmentally safe,” but it contains 2-Butoxyethanol, a petrochemical solvent that has been shown to destroy red blood cells and cause reproductive problems and birth defects
  • 2-Butoxyethanol is also in Corexit 9527, a dispersant used during the early days of clean-up in the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Corexit 9527 has been determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be a 'chronic and acute health hazard'
  • 2-Butoxyethanol is not listed on Simple Green’s label, as cleaning product manufacturers -- even those that claim to be "green" -- are not required by law to disclose all ingredients on their labels
  • You can find more information about a product’s ingredients in its material safety data sheet (MSDS), but even these do not always disclose all ingredients
  • The habit of using conventional cleaning products is one of the most unnecessary ways to expose yourself to toxic chemicals. Tried and true items such as vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice can get the job done just as well

Be Careful of 'Green' Cleaning Products as they May Not Be Very Green

January 16, 2012 | 96,328 views
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By Dr. Mercola

Demand for safe "green" cleaning products is on the rise, as consumers are increasingly unwilling to risk their health for the sake of a "clean" home.

The truth is, most cleaning products on the market are toxic chemical cocktails, and when you spritz your bathtub or kitchen counter with that brightly colored liquid you're exposing yourself and your family to endocrine-disrupting phthalates, carcinogenic benzene, and organ-damaging phenols, just to name a few.

Unfortunately, finding a safer option is not as straightforward as it may seem, because when it comes to cleaning products -- even avowedly "green" cleaning products -- you can't judge a book by its cover.

Popular Green Cleaner "Simple Green" is Actually Toxic

Simple Green is one of the most widely used, supposedly "green" cleaning products on the market.

It's named "green" not only because of its color, of course, but because it is trying to promote a safe and natural image.

In fact, Simple Green's web site calls it "the leader of non-toxic, biodegradable, environmentally safer cleaning products."

This sounds great… until you discover its ingredients, which by the way is not a simple feat because cleaning product manufacturers -- even those that claim to be "green" -- are not required by law to disclose all their ingredients on product labels.

This is where a product's material safety data sheet (MSDS) comes in handy. The product manufacturer must make an MSDS available to consumers; this is federally mandated, so if you are in doubt about a product's true ingredients, this is the source to turn to. In the case of Simple Green, the MSDS is incredibly revealing, as it states that the formula contains up to 4 percent 2-Butoxyethanol by volume.

2-Butoxyethanol Linked to Birth Defects, Reproductive Problems and More

2-Butoxyethanol is a petrochemical solvent that has been shown to destroy red blood cells and cause reproductive problems and minor birth defects. At GreenMedInfo you can further see 10 diseases associated with 2-butoxyethanol, including liver cancer and osteoarthritis. Other health risks revealed by the MSDS for 2-Butoxyethanol include:

Inhalation: Causes irritation to the respiratory tract. Symptoms may include sore throat, coughing, headache, nausea and shortness of breath. High concentrations have a narcotic effect Ingestion: Causes irritation to the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Toxic! May cause systemic poisoning with symptoms paralleling those of inhalation. Skin Contact: May cause irritation with redness and pain. May be absorbed through the skin with possible systemic effects.
Eye Contact: Vapors are irritating and may produce immediate pain, redness and tearing. Splashes can cause severe pain, stinging, swelling. Chronic Exposure: Prolonged or repeated exposures can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, lymphoid system, blood and blood-forming organs. Aggravation of Pre-existing Conditions: Persons with pre-existing skin disorders, eye problems, impaired liver, kidney, blood, respiratory or lymphoid system function may be more susceptible to the effects of the substance.
Reproductive Toxicity: Has shown teratogenic effects in laboratory animals.    


Perhaps what is most disturbing about this information is that most people spend about 90% of their time indoors, with women, children and the elderly being more susceptible to being harmed by chemicals like 2-butoxyethanol due to their increased likelihood of exposure. In the case of the very young, such as infants, whose blood-brain barrier and detoxification systems are not yet fully developed, the danger may be hundreds of times higher than for adults. 

2-Butoxyethanol is Also a Dispersant Chemical Banned in the UK

Remember the 2010 oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, where BP attempted to "clean up" the water with highly toxic dispersants? It's a disaster that's virtually impossible to forget, one that was made even more tragic because of BP's indiscriminate use of two toxic products from a line of dispersants manufactured by Nalco: Corexit 9500 and Corexit 9527A.

Corexit products were removed from a list of approved treatments for oil spills in the U.K. more than a decade ago after the agents were linked to human health problems including respiratory, neurological, liver, kidney and blood disorders, as well as "harmful effects" on sea life. Corexit 9527, an older formula used only during the early days of the clean-up according to Nalco, has been determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be a 'chronic and acute health hazard.'

The 9527 product contains 2-butoxyethanol, an ingredient identified as the cause of ongoing health problems in Exxon Valdez oil spill cleanup workers, which is also found in Simple Green cleaner! As GreenMedInfo stated:

"It was the absence of the highly toxic and controversial 2-butoxyethanol in the 9500 Corexit formula that made it a 'safer' alternative. It is believed that 2-butoxyethanol contributed to the significantly shorter lifespan of Exxon Valdez clean-up workers and is why Corexit 9527 was banned in the United Kingdom."

It's Common for 'Green' Cleaners to Contain Toxins

Unfortunately, Simple Green is not the only chemical cleaner trying to masquerade as a natural product. In general, if you pick up a green cleaning product and it does not have its ingredients clearly labeled, you need to be very suspicious.

Take, for example, one study that analyzed 25 commonly used, scented products, including cleaning products (disinfectants, all-purpose cleaners, dish detergents), half of which claimed to be green, organic, or natural. Amazingly, the products tested emitted an average of 17 chemicals EACH, but only ONE compound was actually listed on the label.

All in all, the 25 products tested emitted a total of 133 different chemicals, about 25 percent of which are currently classified as toxic or hazardous under federal law, but only one of these 133 chemicals were disclosed on the label … and only two were listed on the MSDS! And every single product emitted at least one chemical listed as toxic or hazardous! So it truly is a buyer-beware market when it comes to cleaning supplies -- even "green" cleaning products. Further, researchers noted:

"For 'green' products, emissions of these compounds were not significantly different from the other products."

Do You Want to Clean Your Home Safely? Here are the Simple Tips…

Have a clean home should not mean sacrificing your health due to chemical exposures, plain and simple. In fact, some of the best cleaners are items you probably already have around your home, such as vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice. Here's a simple starter list of what you need to make your own natural cleaning products:

Baking soda White vinegar Lemon juice
Hydrogen peroxide Liquid castile soap Organic essential oils (optional)
Mixing bowls Spray bottles Microfiber cloths

For a great video on how to use these ingredients and other tips for cleaning your home without hazardous chemicals, please review the article: How to Keep Your Home Clean Naturally. For example, lemon juice is a natural whitener, vinegar and water makes an excellent window cleaner, and vinegar combined with hydrogen peroxide works exceptionally well as both a disinfectant and sanitizer.

Baking soda is also great to scrub your bath and kitchen. Put it in a glass grated cheese container with a stainless steel top that has holes in it, and just sprinkle the baking soda on the surfaces and scrub. You may add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to this, such as lavender and tea tree oil, which have added anti-bacterial qualities.

If you prefer a ready-made cleaner, there are some truly safe versions out there, including our new Greener Cleaner, which my team and I spent over three years working on to develop the best environmentally and personally safe cleaner on the market. Ideally, you can use safe cleaners such as this, in combination with tired-and-true natural ingredients, to completely replace dangerous chemical cleaning products in your home. Here are several more simple tips to get you started:

  • Use baking soda as a safe, non-scratch scrub for metals and porcelain.
  • To clean your oven, sprinkle a cup or more of baking soda over the bottom of the oven, then cover the baking soda with enough water to make a thick paste. Let the mixture set overnight. The next morning the grease will be easy to wipe up because the grime will have loosened. When you have cleaned up the worst of the mess, dab a bit of liquid detergent or soap on a sponge, and wash the remaining residue from the oven.
  • To unclog a drain, pour 1/2-1 cup of baking soda down the drain, then slowly pour 1/2-1 cup of vinegar in after it. Cover the drain and let it sit for 15 minutes. If it bubbles like a volcano, it means it's working as planned. Flush with a gallon of boiling water.
  • Deodorize dry carpets by sprinkling liberally with baking soda. Wait at least 15 minutes, then vacuum.
  • To rid your garbage disposal of foul smells, add vinegar to water for ice cubes, then let a few of them get chopped by your disposal.
  • To clean your silver, boil 2-3 inches of water in a shallow pan with 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and a sheet of aluminum foil. Totally submerge silver and boil for 2-3 minutes more. Remove silver from the pan and wipe away the tarnish with a clean cotton cloth.

What Are GMOs?

From April 19th through April 25th we launch GMO Awareness Week. We set aside an entire week dedicated to providing you with information on GMOs and labeling initiatives.

GMOs are a product of genetic engineering, meaning their genetic makeup has been altered to induce a variety of “unique” traits to crops, such as making them drought-resistant or giving them “more nutrients.” GMO proponents claim that genetic engineering is “safe and beneficial,” and that it advances the agricultural industry. They also say that GMOs help ensure the global food supply and sustainability. But is there any truth to these claims? I believe not. For years, I've stated the belief that GMOs pose one of the greatest threats to life on the planet. Genetic engineering is NOT the safe and beneficial technology that it is touted to be.

Help Support GMO Labeling

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)—Monsanto’s Evil Twin—is pulling out all the stops to keep you in the dark about what’s in your food. For nearly two decades, Monsanto and corporate agribusiness have exercised near-dictatorial control over American agriculture. For example, Monsanto has made many claims that glyphosate in Roundup is harmless to animals and humans. However, recently the World Health Organization (WHO) had their research team test glyphosate and have labeled it a probable carcinogen.

Public opinion around the biotech industry's contamination of our food supply and destruction of our environment has reached the tipping point. We're fighting back. That's why I was the first to push for GMO labeling. I donated a significant sum to the first ballot initiative in California in 2012, which inspired others to donate to the campaign as well. We technically "lost the vote, but we are winning the war, as these labeling initiatives have raised a considerable amount of public awareness.

The insanity has gone far enough, which is why I encourage you to boycott every single product owned by members of the GMA, including natural and organic brands. More than 80 percent of our support comes from individual consumers like you, who understand that real change comes from the grassroots.

Thankfully, we have organizations like the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) to fight back against these junk food manufacturers, pesticide producers, and corporate giants.

Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More

Together, Let's Help OCA Get The Funding They Deserve

Let’s Help OCA get the funding it deserves. I have found very few organizations who are as effective and efficient as OCA. It’s a public interest organization dedicated to promoting health justice and sustainability. A central focus of the OCA is building a healthy, equitable, and sustainable system of food production and consumption. That's why I'm proud to announce I will be matching donations up to $250,000 this week.

Please make a donation to help OCA fight for GMO labeling.

Donate Today!

[+] Sources and References

Thank you! Your purchases help us support these charities and organizations.

Food Democracy Now
Mercury Free Dentistry
Fluoride Action Network
National Vaccine Information Center
Institute for Responsible Technology
Organic Consumers Association
Center for Nutrtion Advocacy
Cornucopia Institute
Vitamin D Council
GrassrootsHealth - Vitamin D*action
Alliance for Natural Health USA
American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation
The Rabies Challenge Fund
Cropped Catis Mexico