Uncover masked chemicals of concern
By focusing at the ingredient level and on inherent characteristics, DfE is able to carefully scrutinize formulations and make meaningful calls on potential concerns. For example, a surfactant that is acutely toxic to aquatic organisms and environmentally persistent can appear to pose a low concern when blended with other less toxic and less persistent surfactants. Similarly, water, typically the largest percentage ingredient even in concentrates, can mask the toxicity of a hazardous chemical.
Spots negative synergies between product components
These potentially dangerous chemical combinations, which occur with surprising frequency in cleaning products, pose concerns for both acute and longer-term effects. For example, mixing nitrogen-containing compounds with amines will create nitrosamines, potent carcinogens.
Screens fragrances and dyes for chemicals that may present health effects
Some of the chemicals of most potential concern in cleaning products are those used in small concentrations. Chemicals of concern include sensitizers, carcinogens, and environmentally toxic and persistent compounds. Small quantities don't necessarily mean small hazards: A person, once sensitized to a chemical, can have an allergic response even if exposed at minute levels.
Safer substitutes for chemicals of concern recommended
Sustainability requires innovation and continuous improvement. The DfE program works directly with EPA's Green Chemistry specialists to identify and recommend safer chemicals to its formulator partners, continuously raising the bar and redefining the meaning of environmentally preferable products. DfE helps product manufacturers by educating them and guiding them toward the development of safer products. This is a win for industry, families and the environment.