Dirty Laundry

Dirty Laundry
Dirty Laundry


Read product labels to avoid alkylphenols. Commercially important ones include propylphenol, butylphenol, amylphenol, heptylphenol, octylphenol, nonylphenol, dodecylphenol, and long-chain alkylphenols.

Avoid commercial fabric softeners, which often contain undisclosed chemicals and harmful fragrances. Soften your clothes instead with baking soda or white vinegar.

Silent Spring Institute scientists found that alkylphenols—which are used as surfactants in consumer products such as detergents, disinfectants, and surface cleaners—are abundant in indoor air and house dust. In the Institute’s original Household Exposure Study, alkylphenols appeared in all of the house air samples and 80 percent of the house dust samples.

In a second study, in 2012, Silent Spring Institute researchers found that consumer product labels did not properly disclose the presence of alkylphenols. The chemicals are also found in tires, adhesives, coatings, copy paper, and high-performance rubber products.

The scientists found the widespread exposure to alkylphenols to be troubling not just because the chemicals are known to be estrogenic, but also because not enough research has been conducted to know their full impact on human health.

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