Tue, Feb 06, 2007 - Page 11 News List

Consumers' Foundation warns over cleaners' labels

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Consumers' Foundation (消基會) warned yesterday that three-quarters of cleaning agents for toilets and bathrooms might cause corrosion to skin if users do not wear rubber gloves.

Fifteen of the 20 products sampled from department stores, hypermarkets and supermarkets between Dec. 15 and Jan. 5 were found to contain strong acids or bases -- including hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide -- the foundation said at a press conference in Taipei.

Strong acid is often used to disinfect surfaces and get rid of rust, while strong base is good for cleaning floors and water pipes, the foundation said.

Despite the high proportion of strong substances detected in these cleaners, only seven of the products had labeling that informed consumers of the products' pH values.

Three were incorrectly labeled, misleading consumers into believing that the products were neutral and safe.

Foundation chairman Cheng Jen-hung (程仁宏) said that Article 6 of the Commodity Labeling Law (商品標示法) states that labeling should not contain incorrect, false or misleading information or claims.

If producers, manufacturers or importers fail to rectify their incorrect labeling within a given period, they could be fined between NT$30,000(US$911.38) and NT$300,000.

In addition, only four of the sampled products had notices reminding consumers to wear waterproof gloves, the survey showed.

Cheng said if not properly used, toilet and bathroom cleaners might cause red and swollen hands, blistering and even hurt the central nervous system after long-term use.

The foundation urged producers or importers to provide complete labeling or instructions and reminded users to wear masks or gloves when using cleaning products.

It also urged people with health problems to avoid contact with cleaning products. People should remember to keep their rooms well ventilated when working with highly concentrated substances such as hydrofluoric acid, Cheng said.

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