On May 12, 2016, Congressman Steve Israel (D-NY) introduced the “Cleaning Product Right to Know Act of 2016,” H.R. 5205, which would require ingredient labeling for certain consumer cleaning products. The introduction of this bill follows the failure of a similar California bill, AB 708.
Under H.R. 5205, all ingredients, even those present at less than 1% of the product, would have to be identified. Additional information would have to be disclosed on the manufacturer’s website, including an explanation of each ingredient’s purpose. Significantly, the bill would require the disclosure of individual ingredients in dyes, fragrances and preservatives, information which, as trade secrets, historically has been the subject of robust efforts to protect against public disclosure.
Failure to comply with any of these requirements would render the product “misbranded” within the meaning of the Federal Hazardous Substances Act. The bill’s preemption provision specifically allows state regulation unless compliance with the state regulation and the requirements of H.R. 5205 is “impossible,” a high bar indeed.
“Cleaning product” is defined as “any product used primarily for commercial, domestic or institutional cleaning purposes, including an air care product, automotive product, disinfectant…and polish or floor maintenance product.” The bill would exclude drugs, cosmetics (including personal care items like toothpaste) and products regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.
Chemical ingredient disclosure has been high on the agendas of various NGOs, including Safer States. At the same time, however, many manufacturers already have begun to voluntarily disclose ingredient information. And, through its Cleaning Product Safety Initiative, the American Cleaning Institute aims to make available “complete human and environmental safety data…for every chemical ingredient used in every formulated consumer cleaning product manufactured by ACI members.” Through a scientifically based risk assessment process, the Initiative will be able to provide consumers with more useful health and safety information than ingredient lists.