EPA Introduces Safer Choice Label

In March, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed a new label for household cleaners and other household products. The Safer Choice label aims to make it easier for a consumer to find products that are safer and more environmentally friendly. The label is new, but the program has been around for the past 15 years under the name “Design for the Environment”, or the “DfE” label.

Over the past year, the EPA has been collecting ideas from product manufacturers, environmental and health advocates, and consumers to design the new label. More than 2,000 existing products qualify to carry the new label and now include not only products for the home, but also for businesses, schools, hotels, offices, and sport venues.

The criteria for the label involves a review of the chemical makeup of a product and the functions of each chemical in a product. The chemicals are evaluated against Master and Functional Class Criteria documents which define the characteristics and toxicity thresholds for acceptable ingredients. Additionally, there are other criteria that are dependent on the use of the product including ice-melt products, fragrance-free products, personal care products, and direct release products, among others.

In a blog post, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy states that “companies know that developing and selling safer products is good for business. When they demonstrate a commitment to the health of their customers and the planet, consumers respond. This spring and summer, products will start to carry the Safer Choice label, and we expect many more will be added over the coming months and years”.

The EPA website has a searchable directory of products and companies that carry the new label. There is also a searchable list of safer chemicals grouped by their functional-use class.

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