Last month, the State of California enacted the first-of-its-kind law in North America to require the labelling of cleaning product ingredients. That’s right – in Canada, cleaning products are not required to have ingredient lists on them. So if California can do it, there is no excuse for Canada not to follow suit.

Take action by asking the federal government to reform our toxics law and require stronger labelling of consumer products.

reading ingredient listMany shoppers examine ingredients on the back of their personal care products like shampoos and hand creams before purchasing to avoid nasty chemicals like phthalates—chemicals that lurk in fragrance formulas and have been linked to lower fertility and hormone disruption. And while phthalates and other harmful chemicals like artificial musks are often used in cleaning products, like counter top cleaners and detergents, disclosure of chemical ingredients in these products are not required by Canadian law.

The situation will soon be different in California, and to some extent across the U.S., as a new cleaning product ingredient labelling law comes into effect. In an important victory for public health and consumers’ right to know, the Governor of California recently signed into law the California Cleaning Product Right to Know Act – a rule that would require manufacturers to provide on-product and online labelling of ingredients used in household and institutional cleaning products.

What’s great about California’s new law is that fragrance formulas will not be exempted from disclosure rules and that companies will have to label the presence of allergens and other chemicals of concern including, ironically, a Canadian government list of harmful chemicals.

The new California law is another call to action for the Canadian government to mandate full disclosure laws for cleaning products. Arguments for the need to protect business interest by keeping  ingredient formulas confidential are mere excuses and not informed by evidence. Consumer demand for transparency has driven many companies to voluntarily disclose ingredients in Canada and elsewhere. In fact, the California law was not only celebrated by the public and health groups, it was also endorsed by several cleaning product manufacturers.

woman cleaning

So what’s the holdup?

Stronger “right to know” policies when it comes to product ingredient labelling are an important tool to enable people to protect their health and the environment from exposures to toxic chemicals. Providing information means more informed and safer shopping choices. Research shows that people would like to see stronger labelling rules in Canada, including toxics and allergen labelling. And evidence from California, which has had product warning labels for toxics since 1986, shows that labelling encourages manufacturers to avoid using toxic chemicals—a win-win situation!

This is why a parliamentary committee recently made 87 recommendations to strengthen our main toxics law, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). One of these recommendations is to to require toxics labelling for all consumer products. The federal government is now considering these recommendations but has yet to commit to an action plan.

This is where you come in.

Take action today by sending a letter to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and the Minister of Health to ask for stronger toxics regulations and labelling.