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Article | December 31, 1997
What's SAFE from OSHA? (sidebar)
EPA loosens up on labels
The Environmental Protection Agency has taken the first in a series of expected steps to give manufacturers of household cleaners and lawn and garden pesticides new freedoms regarding product label copy. Called the Consumer Labeling Initiative (CLI) the effort focuses on products that EPA regulates under the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). These would be almost all lawn and garden products plus household cleaners that display an "anti-microbial" claim. Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble has anti-microbial versions of some of its products such as Joy and Dawn dishwashing liquids and Comet household cleanser. P&G has been one of a number of companies that has participated in this CLI. The initiative has focused on obtaining consumer research on how current products with FIFRA labels could be improved. Other participating companies include Clorox Co. Oakland CA; Monsanto Co. St. Louis MO; and S.C. Johnson & Son Inc. Racine WI. In September Lynn Goldman assistant administrator of the EPA office of prevention pesticides and toxic substances announced that companies with FIFRA-regulated products could replace the wording "Statement of Practical Treatment" on a label with the words "First Aid." Also companies will be able to put the common chemical names of their ingredients on the label names a consumer may be familiar with instead of the long technical chemical names such as the mythical "1-phenylalkalybenzodrene." Dr. Carol Berning a research fellow at P&G stresses that her company wants to be free to make other changes that research has shown are strongly favored by consumers. These would include "cleaning up" the foggy wording in the "misuse" warning and recycling statement. Dr. Berning says P&G will wait until it has to change the anti-microbial product labels for other reasons-perhaps to add a new patent number-before making any of these new EPA-approved changes such as the new First Aid wording.
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