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SC Johnson to Eliminate Harmful Fragrance Chemical Galaxolide from its Products

Amid Calls from Scientists, Health Professionals and Women Nationwide, SC Johnson Announces it will Eliminate Harmful Fragrance Chemical Galaxolide

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 20, 2017
Missoula, MT — In a major victory for ingredient safety, SC Johnson (Glade®, Windex®, Pledge®) confirmed last week that it is transitioning away from the toxic fragrance chemical, Galaxolide. In a letter to Women’s Voices for the Earth, dated March 13th, the company stated that it is phasing out Galaxolide based on “the business benefits of transitioning away from Galaxolide,” and “new data that have come to light in recent years that give us the comfort to move toward alternatives that meet our high standards.”

Currently, more than 80 SC Johnson products contain the chemical, according to product ingredient lists available at www.whatsinsidescjohnson.com.

“We applaud SC Johnson for responding to the concerns about the safety of Galaxolide expressed by leading scientists and health professionals, as well as tens of thousands of people across the country,” said Erin Switalski, executive director of Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE). “While SC Johnson’s use of the chemical only represents a relatively small part of the global use of Galaxolide, this step is a tipping point, representing the momentum of forward thinking companies to actively work towards safer fragrance ingredients.”

Last year, WVE commissioned a chemical analysis of Galaxolide, called GreenScreen® for Safer Chemicals, which rated it a Benchmark 1 chemical and revealed that it is highly toxic to aquatic life and persistent—meaning it does not break down easily in the environment. The GreenScreen® assessment also determined the chemical has a moderate hazard level for endocrine disruption. Following the release of the GreenScreen® assessment, top scientists from across the country joined WVE last summer in sending SC Johnson an open letter expressing their concerns about the environmental and health impacts of Galaxolide use.

In addition, WVE collected over 20,000 petition signatures from consumers concerned about the environmental and human health impacts of Galaxolide in SC Johnson’s products.

Numerous studies have shown that Galaxolide pollution is ubiquitous in our environment. For example, a 2015 study of the effluent and sludge of 40 wastewater treatment plants across the United States detected Galaxolide in 100% of samples taken.[1] In another study, 81% of water samples from urban tributaries to the Great Lakes contained Galaxolide.[2] 100% of drinking water samples from a water treatment plant contained Galaxolide.[3] Not surprisingly given the persistent quality of Galaxolide, the chemical contamination of water inevitably leads to contamination of animals and humans. 96% of fish tissue samples contained Galaxolide in a study of fish living downstream from wastewater treatment plants.[4] Another study detected Galaxolide in 83% of Atlantic salmon sampled.[5] 91% of humans tested in one study had Galaxolide in their blood.[6] 100% of humans tested were found to have Galaxolide in their fat tissue.[7] 97% of breast milk samples tested contained Galaxolide.[8]

“Given its persistent and bioaccumulative nature, eliminating the use of Galaxolide today is the only way to prevent current and future harm from exposure to this chemical,” said Alexandra Scranton, director of science and research at WVE. “Any continued use just adds to the already prevalent contamination of our environment and our bodies.”

SC Johnson has stated that their choice of the alternative chemicals — ethylene brassylate and Habanolide, which they plan to use in place of Galaxolide — is “grounded in science” and meet the company’s “high standards.”

“We greatly appreciate that SC Johnson is taking time and effort to ensure that these replacements are not regrettable substitutions as we have seen in too many similar chemical phase-out situations, like BPA,” said Switalski. “Unfortunately, the details of the company’s high safety standards are currently considered proprietary. Given the company’s proven leadership in transparency, we believe that publicly sharing the criteria of their safety standards is the best way to demonstrate the integrity of their process.”

SC Johnson now joins other major cleaning product manufacturers that have already phased out Galaxolide in their products, including Clorox and RB (formerly Reckitt-Benckiser).

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Media Contact:

Beth Conway, Communications Manager at Women’s Voices for the Earth
bethc@womensvoices.org; 406-543-3747
Erin Switalski, Executive Director at Women’s Voices for the Earth
erins@womensvoices.org; 406-543-3747

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About Women’s Voices for the Earth
Since 2007, Women’s Voices for the Earth has run a sustained campaign to promote full ingredient disclosure in the cleaning products industry. Their fragrance campaign work includes reports Secret Scents and What’s That Smell? and, most recently, Unpacking the Fragrance Industry: Policy Failures, the Trade Secret Myth and Public Health, an investigative report calling attention to the failures of the industry’s self-regulating safety policy.

Founded in 1995, Women’s Voices for the Earth amplifies women’s voices to eliminate the toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. With thousands of members across the United States, WVE changes corporate practices, holds government accountable, and works to ensure a toxic-free future for all. www.womensvoices.org.

[1]Sun P, Casteel K, Dai H, Wehmeyer KR, Kiel B, and Federle T. (2014) Distributions of polycyclic musk fragrance in wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluents and sludges in the United States. Science of the Total Environment 493, pp:1073-1078. 2014.

[2]Baldwin AK, Corsi SR, DeCicco LA, Lenaker PL, Lutz MA, Sullivan DJ and Richards KD. (2016) Organic contaminants in Great Lakes tributaries: Prevalence and potential aquatic toxicity. Science of the Total Environment. 554-555, 42-52. 2016.

[3]Wombacher WD and Hornbuckle KC. (2009) Synthetic Musk Fragrances in a Conventional Drinking Water Treatment Plant with Lime Softening. J Environ Eng (New York). 2009 November 1; 135(11): 1192

[4]Ramirez AJ, et.al. (2009) Occurrence of Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in Fish: Results of a National Pilot Study in the United States. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. Vol. 28, No. 12, pp. 2587-2597. 2009.

[5]Kannan K, Reiner JL, Yun SH, Perotta EE, Tao L, Johnson-Restrepo B and Rodan BD. (2005) Polycyclic musk compounds in higher trophic level aquatic organisms and humans from the United States. Chemosphere 61, pp: 693–700. 2005.

[6]Hutter H. et.al. (2009) Synthetic musks in blood of healthy young adults: Relationship to cosmetics use. Science of the Total Environment. Vol. 47, pp: 4821-4825. 2009.

[7]Kannan K, Reiner JL, Yun SH, Perotta EE, Tao L, Johnson-Restrepo B and Rodan BD. (2005) Polycyclic musk compounds in higher trophic level aquatic organisms and humans from the United States. Chemosphere 61, pp: 693–700. 2005.

[8]Reiner JL, Wong CM, Arcaro KF and Kannan K. (2007) Synthetic Musk Fragrances in Human Milk from the United States. Environmental Science and Technology. Vol. 41, No. 11, pp: 3815-3820. 2007

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