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We’re all aware of the ongoing debate about “green” labels. Usually the discussion is centered on what kind of products can or should be labeled “natural”, “organic” or “green”. In that debate we discuss the major ingredients of a product, the percentage of those ingredients that must be contained in the product and what needs to be specified on the label. Sometimes we worry about how the products come to exist, like with oil derivatives, or other natural products. Caring for the environment makes some products “green”, just by assessing that the cultivation of the ingredients is done in a sustainable way.

Unfortunately, when considering all these variables, we never really worry about what makes those products smell good, or maybe what keeps those products from smelling really bad. Recently, scientists asked just that question, and put together a new study which shows that “green” labeled scented consumer products emit just as many toxic chemicals as their non-green equivalents.

From the 25 products they analyzed (half of those where labeled “green”) ALL emitted at least one hazardous or toxic chemical. Basically, if the product smelled good, it emitted toxic chemicals, some of which are even classified as carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The problem is, as always, that manufacturers are not required to disclose all the ingredients they use in cleaning products or cosmetics, so obviously they don’t list them on the labels. Unfortunately, even though the study reveals there are toxic chemicals in “green” products, it does not tell us if the products are safe to use.

But it doesn’t end there. Even if the “green” product is also labeled “unscented” there is no way to know for sure if it’s not toxic or as not been mixed with some kind of chemical just to cover the real scent of the “green” ingredients. So currently, all your green efforts aside, you might be living amidst as many toxic chemicals and pollutants as would your non-green self. And there is no real solution to the problem, at least not at this time, and certainly not before manufacturers are forced to account for all the ingredients used in their products. But when that time comes, we might face another problem as nature has many scents and smells but not that of a bar of soap.