Monday, January 04, 2010

Hazardous Chemicals

From today's Washington Post: Use of potentially harmful chemicals kept secret under law

The chemicals I would like to know about are the ones in shower cleaners and, with my latest bottle, Formula 409. I am not particularly sensitive to chemicals, but these really make it hard for me to breathe and have to be bad for the lungs, particularly since they are used as aerosol sprays.

The ingredient labels are highly uninformative. A bottle of Lysol with bleach gives "active ingredient" as sodium hypochlorite, 2%, and "other ingredients" as 98%. Formula 409 gives "active ingredient" as alkyl (C12-40% C14-50% C16-10%) dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride, 0.3%, and "other ingredients" as 99.7%. The information has decreased since I last read labels.

Sodium hypochlorite is bleach and the organic ammonium chlorides are cationic detergents.

I recall a label that listed "organic acids," which would make some sense for removing soap scum, but those organic acids would not necessarily be compatible with bleach or cationic detergents. Still, the pungent smell is chokingly the same. I don't recognize it, and I know quite a few chemicals by smell.


Anonymous said...

"My concern is we're using chemicals and we have no idea what the long-term effects might be or whether or not they're harmful," said Susan Klosterhaus, an environmental scientist...

Hah, that is rich... tragically it's the same trouble with global warming, unless it is thought of to be killing you this second not many people are particularly concerned.

Peter said...

One of the other problems with this corporate-willed ignorance is that we have no idea how the various 'secret' chemicals will react with each other once they mingle in the waste stream. Granted, the concentrations are pretty low, but we've already started to see the adverse effects of fairly low concentrations of 'anti-microbial' and 'anti-bacterial' agents in the environment.

Chemtura officials said in a written statement that even though Firemaster 550 contains an ingredient structurally similar to DEHP does not mean it poses similar health risks.
The burden of proof should rest on the manufacturer. The default position should not be 'non-toxic' until shown otherwise, but 'toxic' until shown at below what threshold it's not.

MT said...

Formula 409? What are you thinking?! Try "Simple Green"
Here are their MSDAs