Governor Brown Signs Cleaning Product Right to Know Act to Create First-in-Nation Label Law for Consumers
Senate Bill 258 embraced by environmental groups, consumers and manufacturers – will lead to disclosure of hazardous chemicals and allergens in household and workplace cleaners
SACRAMENTO, CA – Today Governor Brown signed the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act of 2017, authored by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens). The Cleaning Product Right to Know Act makes California the first state to require ingredient labeling both on product labels and online for cleaning products used by millions of consumers and workers.
Unlike retail cosmetics or packaged food, no federal requirements exist for disclosing ingredients in cleaning products, which means this law will raise a new high bar for cleaning product ingredient disclosure not just in California but across the nation.
The Cleaning Product Right to Know Act will require known hazardous chemicals in cleaning products to be listed on both product labels and online. Chemicals found in cleaning products have been shown to cause cancer, birth defects, asthma and other serious health effects, and ingredient labeling responds to consumers’ demand for transparency.
“People around the country and especially Californians are demanding more disclosure about the chemicals in products we use,” said Senator Ricardo Lara. “The science is clear, and we have seen the data about how cleaning product chemicals affect parents, children, people with pre-existing conditions, and workers who use these products all day, every day. The Cleaning Product Right to Know Act is going to clear the air for shoppers and workers about products they use every day.”
Senator Ricardo Lara was inspired to bring the legislation by stories from his mother, a former domestic worker.
“After a day of scrubbing toilets my mother would be dizzy and sick, but she never knew if it was the product she was using,” Senator Lara said. “Many of the people who are cleaning our schools, our offices, and our homes are going back to tell their families stories about being sick at work. Senate Bill 258 will help them advocate for safer products.”
Environmental health advocates and industry representatives met for more than six months to reach a compromise that gives consumers and workers ingredient information about known chemicals of concern while ensuring that businesses are able to protect valid proprietary information for other chemicals.
The Cleaning Product Right to Know Act is co-sponsored by public health and environmental health advocates Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, Environmental Working Group, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Women’s Voices for the Earth.
Leading manufacturers of cleaning products also embraced the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act, including California-based Honest Company and WD-40, Seventh Generation, Procter & Gamble, SC Johnson, Reckitt Benckiser, Unilever, Eco Lab, fragrance maker Givaudan, and the Consumer Specialty Products Association, the trade association representing major manufacturers.
‘Breast cancer survivors and others mindful of their cancer risk go out of their way to avoid harmful chemicals,” said Nancy Buermeyer, senior policy strategist at Breast Cancer Prevention Partners. “Now they can make more informed decisions about the cleaning products they use, as can anyone else -- a cleaner, a domestic care worker, or a mother with small children -- who is looking to reduce their exposures to harmful chemicals and protect their health.”
"Businesses, health advocates, workers groups, and decision makers came together in agreement that women and men have the right to know what is in their cleaning products," said Jamie McConnell, director of programs and policy at Women's Voices for the Earth. "But passing SB 258 isn't simply about listing ingredients - it's about eliminating the barriers that prevent women and men from having the information they need to avoid concerning ingredients like powerful allergens, or synthetic musks linked to breast cancer, or known hormone disruptors like phthalates - all of which can be found in fragranced cleaners."
“A key piece of this new law is that hazardous ingredients must be disclosed to consumers and workers, even if part of a recipe that is considered to be a trade secret,” said Bill Allayaud, California Director of Government Affairs for the Environmental Working Group. “SB 258 breaks new ground in that regard and this feature should not be underestimated.”
"We all have the right to know the ingredients in the products we bring into our homes that could affect our health," said Avinash Kar, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. "If we don't know what's in the products on the market, it is much harder to stop the use of problem chemicals or to choose the healthier product. So the passage of SB 258 is a big step forward for public health protections that will benefit Californians and people across the country."
“This new law will offer consumers a clear way to know what is actually inside their household cleaning products, and will greatly empower people to make informed purchasing decisions for their families,” said Christopher Gavigan, Co-Founder and Chief Purpose Officer of The Honest Company, which is based in California. “More broadly, we believe greater transparency across the cleaning product industry will spur innovation to avoid harmful ingredients, continue to promote strong business growth, and result in even better consumer protection.”
“This is a monumental day for the cleaning products industry,” said Joey Bergstein, CEO of Seventh Generation. “We’ve long believed in the consumers’ right to know what’s in the products they’re buying. Nearly 10 years ago Seventh Generation began displaying all of our ingredients on pack and we’ve been able to prove that this is not only good for consumers but good for business. We’re proud to have collaborated on this legislation and to see California lead the nation in ingredient disclosure.”
"The Consumer Specialty Products Association and our member companies actively engaged in a very productive and collaborative negotiation process with Senator Lara and the sponsors of SB 258. Our collective efforts resulted in a balanced law which protects manufacturers' formula innovation investments while also providing understandable product ingredient information to consumers and workers," said Stephen J. Caldeira, Consumer Specialty Products Association President & CEO. "The household and commercial products industry deeply appreciates the collective effort to address this important issue and thanks Senator Lara for his outstanding leadership and Governor Brown for his support."
The Cleaning Product Right to Know Act will require online ingredient listing by January 1, 2020, and on-package disclosure by January 1, 2021, to give manufacturers time to reformulate their products and remove harmful chemicals.
How the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act affects consumers and workers:
- Shoppers can compare two products side by side in the store to see what chemicals they contain and decide which one is right for them, just like they do with food and cosmetics.
- Parents of children with asthma and allergies will be able to see if a product has ingredients that could make their conditions worse.
- Domestic workers and janitors exposed to cleaning products at work all day will be able to advocate for safer alternatives.
- Cancer survivors who are told to avoid certain chemicals will know if they are present in cleaning products.
See below for a full list of supporting groups.
Cleaning Product Right to Know Act (Senate Bill 258)
Breast Cancer Prevention Partners
Environmental Working Group
Natural Resources Defense Council
Women’s Voices for the Earth
Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments
American Academy of Pediatrics, California
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
The American Federal of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
American Lung Association of California
American Sustainable Business Council
Black Women for Wellness
Blue Green Alliance
California Association of Professional Scientists
California Domestic Workers Coalition
California Environmental Justice Alliance
California Federation of Teachers
California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative
California Labor Federation
California Immigrant Policy Center
California Pan Ethnic Health Network
California Product Stewardship Council
California Public Interest Research Group
California School Employees Association
California Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery (CalDerm)
California State PTA
California Teachers Association
Center for Biological Diversity
Center for Environmental Health
City and County of San Francisco, Department of the Environment
Clean Production Action
Coalition for Clean Air
Commonweal Biomonitoring Resource Center
Community Action to Fight Asthma
Consumer Attorneys of California
Consumer Federation of California
Consumer Specialty Products Association
Clean Water Action
Friends of the Earth US
Green Science Policy Institute
The Honest Company
Health Care Without Harm
Healthy Building Network
Institute of Popular Education of Southern California
Investor Environmental Health Network
Meliora Cleaning Products
National Council for Occupational Safety and Health
Pesticide Action Network North America
Physicians for Social Responsibility, SF Bay Area
Physicians for Social Responsibility, Los Angeles
Procter & Gamble
RB - Reckitt Benckiser
Regional Asthma Management and Prevention
Service Employees International Union
Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust
Sierra Club California
Silent Spring Institute
The Non Toxic Revolution
United Steelworkers District 12
Voices for Progress Education Fund
Work Safe Inc.