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EPA Safer Choice

About Safer Choice

Same program, new label

The new Safer Choice label

Finding cleaning and other products that are safer for you, your family, and the environment should be easy — that’s why we developed our new Safer Choice label. We all play a role in protecting our families’ health and the environment. Products with the Safer Choice label help consumers and commercial buyers identify products with safer chemical ingredients, without sacrificing quality or performance.

More than 2,000 products currently qualify to carry the Safer Choice label. Safer Choice products are available for your home at retail stores and for use in facilities like schools, hotels, offices, and sports venues.

For the past 15 years EPA’s label for safer chemical products has been known as the Design for the Environment, or the “DfE,” label. We spent more than a year collecting ideas and discussing new label options with stakeholders, such as product manufacturers and environmental and health advocates. Then we took our ideas to consumers and asked what worked best for them. The result is the new Safer Choice label.

Safer Choice label

Safer Choice label

In addition to the Safer Choice label above, we’re offering an optional label that product manufacturers may use on products designated for businesses, office buildings, sports venues, and schools.

Safer Choice label for business or industrial/institutional purposes

Safer Choice label for business or industrial/institutional purposes

We also have a label that indicates that a product is fragrance-free, to help consumers who prefer products without fragrance. Learn more about our criteria for the fragrance-free label.

Safer Choice fragrance-free label

Safer Choice fragrance-free label purposes

What does the Safer Choice label mean?

Participation in the Safer Choice program is voluntary. Companies who make products carrying the Safer Choice label have invested heavily in research and reformulation to ensure that their products meet the Safer Choice Standard. These companies are leaders in safer products and sustainability.

Products have to pass our stringent criteria in order to earn the Safer Choice label. The Safer Choice program reviews more than just product ingredients. We also look at product performance, pH, packaging and more to ensure that products with the label are safer for you and your family. Once a product meets the Safer Choice Standard, EPA conducts annual audits to ensure our standards continue to be met.

Every ingredient is reviewed: Before a product can carry the Safer Choice label, EPA reviews all chemical ingredients, regardless of their percentage in the product. Every ingredient must meet strict safety criteria for both human health and the environment, including carcinogenicity, reproductive/developmental toxicity, toxicity to aquatic life, and persistence in the environment. This means that Safer Choice-labeled products are safer for:

  • You, your family, and pets; 
  • Workers’ health; and
  • Fish and the environment.

Product performance: Products that qualify to carry the Safer Choice label must pass category-specific performance standards as defined in the Safer Choice Standard. All products must perform comparably to conventional products. 

Packaging: Safer Choice reviews all product packaging against criteria defined in the Safer Choice Standard. Partners are required to implement sustainable packaging measures and to improve the packaging profile for their recognized products during the partnership.

pH: Labeled products must meet pH standards that minimize the potential for skin and eye irritation or injury.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): Safer Choice restricts VOC content to minimize indoor air pollution and associated respiratory concerns.

Safer Choice Information

Criteria for Safer Chemical Ingredients

Each chemical ingredient in a formulation has a function in making a product work – whether it is to aid in cleaning by reducing surface tension (surfactants), dissolve or suspend materials (solvents), or reduce water hardness (chelating agents). Within these “functional classes,” many ingredients share similar toxicological and environmental fate characteristics. As a result, Safer Choice focuses its review of formulation ingredients on the key (environmental and human health) characteristics of concern within a functional class. This approach allows formulators to use those ingredients with the lowest hazard in their functional class, while still formulating high-performing products.

The Safer Choice Program evaluates each ingredient in a formulation against the following Master and Functional-Class Criteria documents, as appropriate. These documents define the characteristics and toxicity thresholds for ingredients that are acceptable in Safer Choice products.

The criteria are based on EPA expertise in evaluating the physical and toxicological properties of chemicals, and while they incorporate authoritative lists of chemicals of concern, they go far beyond these lists. Safer Choice applies the criteria using EPA research and analytical methods to ensure that Safer Choice products contain only the safest possible ingredients. All criteria documents are part of the Safer Choice Standard.


Safer Choice | US EPA

Safer Choice helps consumers, businesses, and purchasers find products that perform and contain ingredients that are safer for human health and the environment. Safer Choice is an EPA Pollution Prevention (P2) program, which includes practices that reduce, eliminate, or prevent pollution at its source, such as using safer ingredients in products.

  • December 17, 2021 – EPA Region 5, in partnership with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, released a new video that describes how you can protect your family and the environment by looking for cleaning products with safer ingredients – such as products with the Safer Choice label. Watch the video

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