New research has found that many common household products contain harmful chemicals. The University of Washington study analyzed a range of six top-selling fabric softeners, detergents and air fresheners. Researchers discovered at least one chemical in the products that are describes as toxic or hazardous under US laws. Professor Anne Steinemann said: "I was surprised by both the number and the potential toxicity of the chemicals that were found." She added: "I didn't find a brand that didn't emit at least one toxic chemical." She explained that the chemicals included acetone, which is an active ingredient in paint thinner and nail-polish remover. She also outlined a number of other hazardous chemicals.
Test results showed 58 different volatile chemicals above the recommended safety level. Researchers found an air freshener that contained more than 20 different harmful compounds, of which, seven are regulated as being toxic. Steinemann’s advice for consumers was: "Be careful if you buy products with fragrance, because you really don't know what's in them. I'd like to see better labeling. In the meantime, I'd recommend that instead of air fresheners people use ventilation, and with laundry products, choose fragrance-free versions." Her conclusions angered manufacturers, who said the research “really lacks a real-world risk perspective". A spokesman said the products were safe and did not cause ill health.