By Brian Clark Howard
A slew of extremely common household cleaning products contain hidden toxic chemicals that have been linked to fertility problems in lab animals, according to a report released today by Women's Voices for the Earth, a Montana-based nonprofit. The chemical under study, ethylene glycol butyl ether or EGBE, has been shown to cause testicular damage, reduced fertility, death of embryos and birth defects in animal studies. People who have been exposed to high doses of EGBE are known to suffer eye and nose irritation, headaches and vomiting. EGBE is found in many common products. However, proving once again how the U.S. labeling and regulatory system leaves much to be desired, manufacturers are not required to list EGBE on product labels. EGBE was once on the federal list of hazardous air pollutants, but was taken off a few years ago. Industry representatives say there is no proof that using the cleaner as specified has caused any harm to human beings. However, this latest report gives more support to the trend of choosing as non-toxic household products as possible. Since no studies have measured the impact of using the chemical in indoor spaces over long periods of time, particularly with regards to babies, the elderly and the immune compromised, it is one more reason why it may make sense to play it safe. Reach for baking soda, or safer herbal-based formulations instead. Is it worth the possible risk to your fertility otherwise?