Beware of “Green” Products

June 1, 2011

Would you be surprised if your green cleaning products were derived from petroleum rather than bio-based sources as advertised?

The American Chemical Society (ACS) has found environmental claims can be markedly inconsistent with a product's chemical profile. Without carbon dating, consumers don't know if a product's ingredients were derived from plant-based carbon or petrochemicals produced synthetically from petroleum.

Researchers analyzed over a dozen commercial liquid laundry detergents, dishwashing liquids, and hand soaps for the origin of their carbon content. They found plant-derived carbon content varied significantly: hand soaps ranged from 28-97%, laundry detergents from 28-94%, and dishwashing liquids from 43-95%.

"For example, a liquid laundry detergent that makes the claim 'petrochemical free' contained only 69% plant-based carbon, meaning that 31% of the carbon is petroleum-derived," says Cara Bondi, an ACS researcher.

Avoid these misleading claims by purchasing products that are third-party certified and incorporate radiocarbon dating information per ASTM D6866-10.

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