Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - Two major retailers are increasing the requirements for manufacturers of beauty and personal care products and household cleaners to help make them less hazardous to your health.
Currently, many of the products are full of chemicals that can make people ill, and area organizations have been attempting to curb the issue for some time.
Upstate Medical University has been working to clean up the hazards of many products used in homes, businesses and schools every day.
“We have seen many patients coming to us specifically relating their health problem to cleaning agents," said Greg Sewinsky, a certified industrial hygienist with Upstate Medical University.
“They're produced then used, without much prior testing,” explained Dr. Michael Lax with Upstate Medical University.
The issue isn’t just cleaning products, but also stain removers, make-up, hair-straightening chemicals, and many other items on store shelves.
“We've been seeing mercury in face cream, formaldehyde in hair straightening products, heavy metals in lipsticks and lip glosses," explained Janet Nudelman, the Director of Program and Policy for the Breast Cancer Fund and Co-Founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. “Led in lipstick, these are connected to cancer, reproductive and development harm.”
And officials say you can see cases of the harm caused by these products in Central New York.
“We see the full gamut of respiratory problems, skin reactions, hearing loss, to things like cancer,” said Dr. Lax.
Now, large companies like Target are telling their manufacturers to clean up their act.
The company announced this week they will now rank products based on an environmental health standard.
They will require makers of 7,500 items to release precise ingredient information.
Walmart started the trend last month with something similar, picking out 10 chemicals they will soon ban.
“When retailers as large as Walmart or Target set these kinds of standards, the market responds, because they need those retailers to be successful and continue to sell their products,” Nudelman said.
Experts say they hope this is just the beginning of safer products.
Sewinsky recommends using old-fashioned cleaning methods like vinegar or baking soda as opposed to cleaners found at stores.
If you’re looking for safe cleaning tips, the EPA
and the Cleaning for a Healthy School
organization offer tips on what to look for and what to use.