You might want to hold your breath next cleaning day. A new report by Environmental Defence says cleaning products are smogging up the air in Canadian homes while the feds do little to protect us.
For a report titled The Dirty Truth, ED tested the air quality in 14 Canadian kitchens and found that after being cleaned, 12 of them failed the German AGÖF standard for indoor VOCs. Canada has yet to deliver any standards on this front.
The nine homes that used conventional cleaners (including Windex, Mr. Clean, Lysol and Pinesol products) had a spike of 120 per cent. The homes that used products with “unverifiable green claims” (including Clorox Green Works, President’s Choice Green/Vert, CLR biodegradable and Pledge 99% Natural), saw a spike of 100 per cent. The ones that used certified green cleaners (including Nature Clean glass cleaner, Seventh Generation Free & Clear and Method All-Purpose) saw the smallest increase, averaging just 35 per cent.
VOCs, by the way, are linked to all sorts of health problems, including asthma in kids, as well as headaches, nausea and eyes, nose and throat irritation at higher levels. However, it’s impossible to know exactly what chemicals are in most cleaning products since Canada still has yet to mandate ingredient listing (the way it did with beauty products back in 2006).
“Consumers have the right to know what chemicals are in the products they buy,” says Environmental Defence’s Maggie MacDonald. “It’s time for the government to end the guessing game by making full ingredient disclosure mandatory on product labels.”
ED is also calling on the government to “stop its foot-dragging and publish promised regulations for consumer product VOC concentration limits.” Environment Canada was supposed to put out proposed new VOC regs last summer, but they’re still nowhere in sight. 
There’s always hope that Premier Kathleen Wynne may revive the long buried Ontario Right To Know Act, which called for Cali-style labelling warning consumers about suspected carcinogens in stuff like cleaning products. After all, the preem did say pre-election that she’d act on this issue. 
At this point, with no mandatory ingredient lists on cleaning products, it’s anyone’s guess just how toxic your cleaner is.