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Toxic Chemical Glossary:
Non-Toxic vs. Toxic Free: What Do These Terms Even Mean?

Non-toxic vs. toxic free

Products, from personal care products to the food we eat, are covered in claims like “natural,” and “non-toxic.” Sadly, personal care and cleaning products are under-regulated and these claims can often mean very little or nothing at all. In the past, we discussed 5 Non-Toxic Buzzwords that can confuse consumers. Today, we’ll help you understand how to choose safer products by explaining what both non-toxic and toxic free really mean. 

The Issues With The Term “Non-Toxic”

The term non-toxic is, shockingly, unregulated. The only written regulation around the term comes from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) who is the governing body that administers the Federal Hazardous Substance Act. They define a toxic product as one that ‘can produce personal injury or illness to humans when it is inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through the skin.’

The CPSC act details that a product must kill half or more of a group of lab rats to be considered toxic. There is a lot of very specific and confusing language in the section that indicates what the dosage and exposure time has to be in order to be considered toxic. For example, if a toxic substance kills 49% of its test subjects, it can still legally label itself non-toxic!

The bottom line on “non-toxic”: the term in and of itself doesn’t tell us that much. However, products labeled non-toxic are a great place to start your research. The burden is on us, as consumers, to educate ourselves on the ingredients in our products and to select brands who are making responsible decisions in the space. 

What About “Toxic Free?”

The term “toxic free,” is not regulated by a governing body such as the FDA, but is defined by The ToxicFree Foundation, as a product that ‘has been created without the use of any potentially toxic, carcinogenic, or poisonous ingredients that could be questionable in safety.’ 

The ToxicFree Foundation is a private non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about toxic ingredients in a range of products. Their certification requires that a product meet the following criteria:

SAFE: ToxicFree certified products are guaranteed to be completely free from harmful chemicals.

NATURAL: ToxicFree certified products contain only ingredients that are 100% natural and from the earth.

ECO-FRIENDLY: ToxicFree certified products are manufactured sustainably and are safe for the environment.

The Bottom Line:

This doesn’t mean you should avoid products labeled Non-Toxic or that don’t have the “ToxicFree” seal.

These labels and claims are just a good starting point. Ultimately, the responsibility of ensuring the products in our homes are safe and free of toxins resides on us, the consumers. Utilize databases like the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database and Guide to Healthy Cleaning to learn more about ingredients and products that meet your standards of safety, and check out our blog for tons of articles and tips on how to keep your home clean – and safe!

Learn More

At Force of Nature, we believe in transparency and are wholeheartedly dedicated to educating our customers and providing a safe, effective cleaner to use around their loved ones. We’re proud to be able to offer our customers a highly effective, family-safe product that is truly non-toxic and toxic free.

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