New York State Becomes First State to Require Cleaning Product Makers to Disclose Ingredients and Hazards

Coalition Urges Governor Cuomo to Introduce Bill to
Expand Such Disclosure to Personal Care Products
Advocates Applaud DEC Action Based on 40-Year-Old Law and Proposed Legislation
Advocates Applaud DEC Action Based on 40-Year-Old Law and Proposed Legislation

(Albany, NY - June 6, 2018) Starting in July 2019, New York State will drive cleaning product makers to post online information about all ingredients in their products, thanks to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's newly issued guidance . In addition to naming ingredients, companies will identify ingredients or products that are listed as chemicals of concern on a series of environmental and health hazard lists, including cancer, infertility, learning and developmental harm, asthma and other respiratory problems, and skin sensitizers. 


This new direction on how companies must comply with a law enacted in the 1970s was prompted by lawsuits filed by Earthjustice on behalf of public interest organizations including the New York Public Interest Research Group, Women’s Voices for the Earth (the then sponsor of Clean and Healthy New York), and Sierra Club, nearly a decade ago. Companies avoided a court battle when they asked for, and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) agreed to provide, guidance on how information should be reported. Cleaning product makers further requested that information be presented on their own websites rather than delivered to the DEC.


The guidance includes information about the method of disclosing – for the first time –  known byproducts and contaminants in cleaning products, including 1,4-dioxane, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanoic sulfate (PFOS), all now found in drinking water supplies across New York State. Plans to fully implement ingredient disclosure were announced by Governor Cuomo in his State of the State priorities for 2017. He reiterated this commitment in his 2018 State of the State, adding he would introduce legislation to address hazardous ingredients in personal care products, using cleaner disclosure as a model.


"We applaud the leadership of Governor Cuomo and the hard work of the NYS DEC to breathe new, much-needed life into an old and powerful law. Knowledge is power, and the new how-to guide for cleaning product companies will ensure people and the agency have the information they need to act in the best interest of their family and the environment," said Kathy Curtis, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York. "As this guidance was finalized, California legislators passed a law with different, but compatible requirements. Together, New York and California again provide the kind of leadership the American people need and their actions drive a strong national framework.


“We need this kind of leadership from New York State. People need to know about the health implications of the products we use to keep our homes and businesses clean. We look forward to continuing to work with the Governor and State agencies to expand this kind of full disclosure for additional products like personal care products. Communities of color often face disproportionate harm from cleaning and personal care products, and need the information this guidance and expansion of it will bring,” said Cecil Corbin-Mark, Deputy Director and Director of Programs for WE ACT for Environmental Justice.


“We are delighted to see DEC exercising the legal muscle it has to ensure that cleaning product users have the information they need to protect their health and environment,” said Deborah Goldberg, an Earthjustice attorney.  “DEC’s reasonable new Guidance is fully supported by existing law and regulations that have not been adequately enforced—until now.”


“Governor Cuomo’s administration has proven to be a champion for consumer right to know. In particular, this is a real win for women who suffer higher exposures to cleaning products in both the occupational and household setting. Having this information will give women the ability to avoid chemicals linked to fertility and respiratory issues, increased risk of cancer, allergies and more,” said Jamie McConnell, Director of Programs and Policy at Women’s Voices for the Earth.


“We applaud the Governor’s leadership in establishing strong disclosure standards for the chemical ingredients found in household cleaning products. This critical step would not have been possible without the Department of Environmental Conservation’s tireless work and dedication to this important public health issue,” said Caitlin Ferrante, Chapter Coordinator for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. “When it comes to protecting the public from harmful cleaning product ingredients, DEC apparently stands for Doing Everything Conceivable.”


Authority for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Household Cleansing Product Information Disclosure Program derives from Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) Article 35 and New York Code of Rules and regulations (NYCRR) Part 659, which requires that manufacturers of household cleaning products sold in New York State disclose information about their products. It was enacted to address phosphorous pollution.


"We are grateful to finally have New York State provide clarity for the consumer with a guide that discloses ingredients in cleaning products, a groundbreaking step towards protecting public health," said Laura Weinberg, President of the Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition. "For example, it's important to have the ingredient 'Fragrance' disclosed since artificial fragrances may contain 'phthalates' which have been linked with breast cancer."


"One small step has made a huge difference for the discerning consumer. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation worked diligently with the NGO's and cleaning product industry and New Yorkers will benefit. Manufacturers will be providing information on their websites for consumers to view by 2019. The breast cancer community has always made product disclosure top priority, this hazards-based approach enables a discerning consumer to make best choices for their family," said Karen Joy Miller, Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition.

“We’ve long believed in the consumers’ right to know what’s in the products they’re buying,” said Joey Bergstein, CEO of Seventh Generation. “Nearly 10 years ago Seventh Generation began displaying all of our ingredients on pack and we’ve been able to prove that this is not only good for consumers but good for business. We’re proud to have collaborated on this legislation and to see New York lead the nation in ingredient disclosure.”


“More and more businesses understand that consumers want to know what is in their products and the good news is that businesses can produce and  provide these safer healthier products. The market trends validate this as is noted in our Making the Business & Economic Case for Safer Chemistry report which shows a 20% compounded annual growth for non-toxic cleaning products. The new NYS requirements will help not only deliver what consumers want but will in turn grow a strong and healthy New York economy, ” said David Levine, co-founder and President, American Sustainable Business Council.


"The announcement that the Household Cleansing Product Information Disclosure Program has been launched is great news for all New Yorkers. Consumers will have the ability to easily choose cleaning products with chemicals that are less damaging to themselves and the environment. We are proud that our members took an active role in encouraging adoption of this program by sending comments of support to the Department of Environmental Conservation.  We look forward to seeing this important public health initiative be implemented and continue to urge the administration to move swiftly in implementing a similar disclosure program for personal care products so that New Yorkers can be even better protected from harmful chemicals,"  said Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters.

Manufacturers must report on product websites about chemicals present in products and disclose the function of the chemical, and which, if any, lists of chemicals of concern the ingredient, byproduct, or contaminant appears on. In addition, companies must provide a list of links to product’s ingredients to the Department of Environmental Conservation. The Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse, supported in part by New York State in the state’s Environmental Protection Fund, will compile these URLs into a database for the public, which will easily allow people to find information about different products in the same sector (for example, liquid dish detergents).


“The cleaning product ingredient disclosure guidance is an important template for disclosure for other types of products, including personal care products and children’s products,” added Curtis. “We look forward to additional proposals’ advancement in the legislature.”

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