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Look for the Safer Choice

EPA’s certification is a useful tool for consumers and companies to identify safer cleaning products

EPA Safer Choice

If you are looking for cleaning products, detergents, or car care products that don’t contain highly hazardous chemicals, shop for EPA Safer Choice and Design for the Environment (DfE)-certified products.

You may wonder why all products on the store shelves aren’t required to contain the safest ingredients that won’t threaten health and pollute homes, drinking water, and communities. Simply put, federal regulations on toxic chemicals are weak, and toxic ingredients in products are often held as corporate trade secrets.

Choosing Safer Choice and DfE products is one simple way that consumers can literally breathe a little easier. 

The products certified under Safer Choice and DfE must meet certain standards. They cannot contain chemical ingredients that are known to contribute to most human health and environmental problems. That means no carcinogens, reproductive toxins, or brain-damaging chemicals, or chemicals that harm aquatic life, for example. You can even search for products that are fragrance-free.

EPA has looked at the function that different problematic chemicals perform in each product category and has identified low-hazard alternatives. EPA has also compiled and maintains a Safer Chemical Ingredient List that companies can choose from to meet the standard.

Companies have to submit the full ingredients to EPA for vetting. Nothing can violate the standard, including the “inert” ingredients or fragrance components. EPA also helps companies identify safer alternatives to problematic ingredients.

Because they are part of  the EPA, Safer Choice and DfE are gaining traction with a broad group of major brands and retailers. You can check out the list of over 2,200 certified products here. Many more companies are seeking the certification and have already reformulated. In fact, Walmart, Target, and Amazon require or incentivize some of their suppliers to meet the Safer Choice and DfE standards. Amazon has made it easier to find these products on their website with its Climate Pledge Friendly filter. Click the filter, then, in individual results, look for the Safer Choice of DfE logos under “Product Certifications.”

The bottom line is that EPA’s Safer Choice and DfE  labels are helping to transform the marketplace. It gives consumers an assurance that a product avoids many known hazardous chemicals and has been vetted by the government. It incentivizes major brands and retailers to reformulate their products with safer alternatives.

So to help yourself and the planet: look for the Safer Choice and DfE labels and ask your favorite retailer where the Safer Choice and DfE products are located, and tell them to stock more Safer Choice and DfE certified products in their stores.