Simple Green cleaners: Critics say it isn't green

Is Simple Green really green?
Is Simple Green really green?

Simple Green has long appealed to consumers looking for a household cleaner that seems less hazardous than, say, Fantastik or Formula 409. And the manufacturer cultivates an image of an eco-friendly product.

But Simple Green isn't simple. And critics complain it isn't so green, either. The familiar, dark-green all-purpose cleaner with the sassafras scent contains 2-butoxyethanol, a chemical that has damaged red blood cells in lab animals and "may be a carcinogen in humans," warns New Jersey's Department of Health and Human Services. When the nonprofit Environmental Working Group tested a variety of school cleaners, it found Simple Green spewed 2-butoxyethanol and 92 other chemicals into the air, including one linked to cancer (acetaldehyde) and another linked to both cancer and asthma (formaldehyde).