American Legislative Exchange Council, November 1, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: The chemical industry wants us all to continue using toxic cleaning products in homes, schools and public buildings.]


Environmental activists are seeking to eliminate or greatly reduce the usage of cleaning chemicals such as bleach in public transportation facilities, schools, and other areas government controlled facilities. Activists propose alternative biological agents or "green" cleaners that are less effective and more expensive.

The asserted rationale for removing chemical cleaners from public facilities is that man-made chemicals allegedly aggravate or trigger allergy and asthma symptoms. The asserted rationale is flawed because allergens and asthma triggers such as decaying insect bodies, cockroach feces, mold, mildew, and dust mites thrive in the absence of chemical cleaners and cause far more illness and breathing difficulties than the cleaners do.

Talking Points:

* Allergens and asthma triggers such as mold, mildew, dust mites, cockroach feces, and decaying insect bodies are far more harmful to human health and respiratory breathing than are the federally regulated cleaning chemicals that eliminate them.

* Cleaning chemicals and consumer products are already required to have Material Safety Data Sheets or product labeling that alerts consumers to any associated hazards and the appropriate personal protective equipment needed to use the products in a safe manner.

* Claims that cleaning chemicals at levels deemed safe by federal regulators substantially aggravate allergy and asthma symptoms are scientifically unsubstantiated, while scientific research conclusively links mold, mildew, vermin, and viruses to allergies, asthma, and other health risks.

* According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, one of the growing environmental issues facing schools and public facilities today is the unchecked growth of mold and mildew.

* Studies show that 20 percent of children are allergic to cockroaches, and exhibit symptoms of allergy or asthma when cockroach residue is present.

Additional Sources:

Report: No Evidence that Cleaning Leads to Allergy Rise, Soap and Detergent Association Website, May 20, 2004

Stanwell-Smith, R. and Bloomfield, S., The Hygiene Hypothesis and Implications for Home Hygiene