Finding non-toxic, safe cleaning products is always a challenge. With no regulating standards for claims on cleaning products, it's almost impossible for consumers to tell what's actually 'green'. But thanks to The Environmental Working Group (EWG), finding the best options will get a lot easier. The EWG has recently launched the EWG VERIFIED™ certification for Cleaning Products. AspenClean is honored to be the first cleaning product to be EWG VERIFIED™.
What is EWG VERIFIED?
A lot of consumer products on the market use chemicals that are linked to health implications like cancer, birth defects and many more. Despite that, manufacturers don’t have to disclose their ingredients on their packaging. This leaves consumers blindsided and vulnerable to dangerous health risks.
EWG rates products in their consumer guides based on their level of safety for human health and the environment. This database has called out bad ingredients and the companies using them since 1993, driving the market for healthier, safer products. EWG is widely recognized as the most trusted and rigorous evaluator of chemical safety in consumer products.
They introduced the EWG VERIFIED mark for personal care products to create a universal symbol that consumers could trust. Their research team has developed a strict set of standards for health, ingredient disclosure and transparency. Only products complying with these rigorous criteria get to bear the mark. That’s why AspenClean is thrilled to bear the first EWG VERIFIED mark for Cleaning Products.
Criteria for EGW VERIFIED
To be EWG VERIFIED, consumer products need to comply with the following requirements:
1/ Score an A or B in EGW's guide to healthy cleaning
EWG's Guide to Healthy Cleaning is their consumer guide for cleaning products. The database rates products from A to F, based on their ingredients and their respective level of safety for human health and the environment. In order to be EWG VERIFIED, products need to score at least a B in the Guide to Healthy Cleaning.
2/ Avoid EWG ingredients of concern
EWG VERIFIED has developed an extensive list of thousands of “Unacceptable Ingredients”, which encompasses ingredients with health, ecotoxicity and/or contamination concerns..
This list includes, amongst many others:
- Ethanolamines (MEA, DEA, TEA) which are known sensitizing asthmagens, suspected carcinogens and can contain harmful impurities
- Formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen and sensitizing asthmagen
- Methylisothiazolinone (MI), Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI), Benzisothiazolinone (BIT) and Octylisothiazolinone (OIT), as they are extreme sensitizing ingredients and can cause contact dermatitis as well as very toxic to aquatic life
- Triclosan, which can act as an endocrine disruptor, irritate skin and is very toxic to aquatic life
The EWG team has also worked out thousands of “Restricted Ingredients”. EWG VERIFIED products must meet the maximum concentration restrictions or can’t include any of those ingredients in their formula without adequate substantiation. Examples include:
- Borax, also listed as Sodium Borate, Sodium Tetraborate, Disodium Tetraborate or Boric Acid, is a common ingredient in many cleaning products. It is a suspected endocrine disruptor and may cause harm to fertility and unborn children. Therefore, exposure should be limited as much as possible, and EWG Verified products have to adhere to the limits
- Botanical extracts and essential oils are extremely potent and can irritate skin and airways, so EWG Verified set tight limits on essential oils
- Cocamidopropyl Betaine can be contaminated with Nitrosamines, Cocamidopropyl Dimethylamine and Dimethylaminopropylamine (DMAPA) if it’s of inferior quality, in which case it can irritate the skin. Manufacturers using Cocamidopropyl Betaine in their products have to show proof that their ingredients do not contain contaminants above the set limits
- Ethoxylated ingredients like Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), PPG-10-Laureth-7, Poloxamer 181 and many others, because those ingredients can be contaminated with 1,4-Dioxane. 1,4-Dioxane causes respiratory irritation, skin irritation and is strongly suspected to cause cancer in humans, and manufacturers using ethoxylated ingredients have to provide evidence to EWG Verified that their ingredients don’t exceed the limits set for 1,4-Dioxane
- Sodium Metasilicate is extremely caustic and causes severe skin burns, respiratory irritation and eye damage, so it is prohibited in sprays and has strict limits in all other product categories.
3/ Full transparency
Products bearing the EWG VERIFIED mark have to be fully transparent. That means that they have to list all intentionally added non-fragrance ingredients and the first five fragrance ingredients on the product label and on the website. Furthermore, all ingredients that meet the definition of nanomaterial have to be identified on the product packaging.
All ingredients have to be listed using the industry standard or International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI). This means that non-specific ingredients like "fragrance", "preservative" or “non-ionic surfactant” are not acceptable. This is great for consumers because they can see exactly which ingredients are used in the product, and no bad ingredients can be hidden behind non-specific names.
Manufacturers also have to list allergens on the product labels - including 26 allergens commonly found in fragrances. Consumers suffering from allergies will be able to determine easily which of the EWG VERIFIED products are safe for them.
4/ Meet stringent air quality standards
EWG VERIFIED criteria also revolve around air quality because bad air quality can have negative impacts on your health. Therefore, manufacturers have to submit the product’s level of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), which have to be below product category-specific limits.
These limits for VOC are more stringent than even those of the California Air Resources Board (CARB). CARB excludes fragrance-related VOC from their limits, while EWG VERIFIED includes all VOC. So products have to adhere to lower limits to bear the EWG VERIFIED mark.
5/ Microbial challenge and efficacy testing
Products that want to be EWG VERIFIED also have to undergo testing. For one, they will be submitted to a microbial challenge test. In this test, microbial pathogens are introduced to the finished product, and it is measured whether the formula can kill off the bacteria, and how long it takes. Microbial challenge testing ensures that the products stay shelf-stable for an appropriate period of time.
Manufacturers also have to disclose the methods and results of efficacy testing of their EWG VERIFIED products. This way, you can trust that the EWG VERIFIED products are not only safe and non-toxic but also effective in their duties. EWG reserves the right to perform random product testing as well, making sure that all products meet the criteria at all times.
When you see the EWG VERIFIED mark on a product, you can be sure it's free from EWG's chemicals of concern and meets strictest standards for your health and the environment.
AspenClean is officially the first company to get their green cleaning products, eco friendly dish soap, dishwasher pods, and eco friendly laundry detergent EWG VERIFIED. This is proof that our formulas are as healthy and non-toxic as possible, and that our ingredients are of superior quality to ensure your safety.
Also, the dedication to eco-friendly ingredients and achieving the highest standards in manufacturing means that it costs more for our products because we pay more to give you the best quality available. Still, there is good news because it turns out that our products aren't that much more expensive in the long run, and you might even end up saving money.
Finally, EWG VERIFIED standards are dynamic and ever-evolving. The scoring algorithm and criteria might be changed in the future, especially when new research is conducted regarding ingredient safety. This means that now and in the future, EWG VERIFIED is a mark that you can trust.
Similarly, we here at AspenClean always strive to meet and surpass the EWG VERIFIED standards, to ensure that our products are as safe and non-toxic for you and the environment.
To learn more about sustainable living, check out our blog!