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  mold and mildew-resistant
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LABEL REPORT CARD
How meaningful is the label? Is the label verified? Is the meaning of the label consistent? Are the label standards publicly available? Is information about the organization publicly available? Is the organization free from conflict of interest? Was the label developed with broad public and industry input?
Somewhat Meaningful Yes1 No No Yes Yes Yes
1. The claim is verified but to a limited extent.
 
LABEL CATEGORY:
General Claims
 
WHERE YOU'LL FIND THIS GENERAL CLAIM:

 CLEANING
 
 
WHAT THIS GENERAL CLAIM MEANS:
“Mold and mildew-resistant” means that the product is or contains an antimicrobial chemical which interferes with the growth of mold and mildew. It does not mean that the product will kill disease-causing bacteria or provide a health benefit. Antimicrobial or antibacterial describes a substance(s) or product that kills or inhibits the growth of bacteria, generally in/on foods, inanimate surfaces, or hands. EPA regulates the use of this claim on household cleaning products, kitchen products such as sponges and cutting boards, children's products and recreational products such as tents.

Technically, the mold of mildew resistant claim is considered by EPA and FDA to be a subset of antimicrobials.

HOUSEHOLD CLEANERS
EPA regulates all household cleaning products and laundry detergents that claim to have mold or mildew resistant or antimicrobial properties except dishwashing soap is an exception to this general rule (see below). EPA classifies the active ingredient—that is, the ingredient that works to kill or reduce the microorganisms—as a pesticide and requires it to undergo safety and effectiveness testing prior to marketing, and the active ingredient to be identified on the label. EPA considers additional claims on mold or mildew resistant labeled products such as "non-toxic" or "all natural" to be false or misleading. In addition, EPA does not routinely review efficacy (effectiveness) data for products that make odor-resistant claims, although the manufacturer is supposed to generate this information and keep it on file.

EPA also regulates household cleaners that make mold or mildew resistant claims and also claim to be disinfectants or sanitizers. The label of household disinfectants must indicate whether the product is effective only against one specific group of microorganisms or against a broad spectrum of microorganisms (in which case it may be called a “general” disinfectant).

KITCHEN, CHILDREN'S, AND RECREATIONAL PRODUCTS
While EPA has not approved the use of several antimicrobial claims on these types of products, it does allow some treated products to be labeled as “resists the growth of mold/mildew,” or “kills germs that cause odor.” However, EPA is concerned that some products such as sponges, that are used in the kitchen, bathroom, or other areas where disease-causing organisms may be present can give the false impression that the sponge or other article provides protection against food-borne and disease-causing bacteria. According to EPA, this potential for a false impression should be addressed through additional labeling. Therefore, an article may make a mold or mildew-resistant claim provided it is clear that the treatment is for the protection of the article, not to prevent the infection of people or animals with bacteria or other microbes, such as “This product does not protect users or others against bacteria, viruses, germs or other disease organisms. Always clean this product thoroughly after each use.”

-- This article has been treated with a fungistatic agent to protect the product from fungal growth.
-- Mildew Resistant - treated with a fungistatic agent to protect the paint itself from the growth of mildew.
-- Mildew Resistant - This paint contains a preservative which inhibits the growth of mildew on the surface of this paint film.
-- Mildew Resistant - Extends useful life of article by controlling deterioration caused by mildew.
-- Algae Resistant - This article contains a preservative to prevent discoloration by algae.
-- A fungistatic agent has been incorporated into the article to make it resistant to stain caused by mildew.
-- Article treated to resist deterioration by mold fungus.
-- Article treated to resist deterioration from mildew.
-- The fungistatic agent in this article makes it especially useful for resisting deterioration caused by mildew.
-- Dry coating of this paint mildew resistant.
-- Dried paint film resists mold fungus.
-- Dry enamel coating resists discoloration from mildew.
-- Cured sealant is mildew resistant.
-- Dried film resists stains by mold.
-- A mold or mildew resisting component has been incorporated in this article to make its dry film mildew resistant.
-- Specially formulated to resist mildew growth on the paint film.
-- Gives mildew-resistant coating.
-- The mildew resistance of this outside house paint film makes it especially useful in high humidity areas.
-- Retards paint film spoilage.
-- Resists film attack by mildew.

Some critics think that antibacterial / antimicrobial claims even when truthful are playing on consumers' fears. They advise consumers not to buy these products except in unusual circumstances. Stuart Levy, M.D., president of the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics and a researcher in the field, believes that mold and mildew resistant products should only be used by hospitals, sick people coming home from the hospital, and those with compromised immune systems. “Good soap and water is sufficient in most cases,” Levy says. Overuse of antibacterial substances can lead to bacteria becoming resistant to them, which is a problem for public health.
 
WHO VERIFIES THIS GENERAL CLAIM?
EPA requires manufacturers of household cleaners that make a mold or mildew resistant claim to meet standards set by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which requires that the product will not cause unreasonable adverse effects to human health or the environment. Thus the product must be safe. EPA requires manufacturers to submit detailed and specific information concerning the chemical composition of their product, toxicology data documenting any safety hazards associated with use of the product. However, it does not routinely review efficacy (effectiveness) data for products that make mold and/or mildew-resistant claims, although the manufacturer is supposed to generate this information and keep it on file. EPA is also concerned with articles treated with substances designed to kill microbes (e.g., that create mold/mildew) in the article itself, such as sponges, underwear, toilet seats, paint, cutting boards, and toys.
 
CONSUMERS UNION EVALUATION:
How meaningful is the label?
A mold or mildew resistant claim on Household Cleaners is somewhat meaningful. Although products making mold and mildew resistant claims must be registered with the EPA and safety data reviewed, efficacy (effectiveness) data are not required, and thus there is no independent assurance that the product will be effective.

Foods, drugs, and cosmetics are required to list their ingredients (with a few exceptions, such as fragrances in cosmetics), but household cleaning products are not required to disclose their ingredients (except for disinfectants or other ingredients considered to be antimicrobial pesticides).

A "mold or mildew resistant" claim on Kitchen, Children and Recreational Products is permitted with additional qualifying statements. However, since these products are exempt from EPA pesticide registration requirements, safety and efficacy data are not required in order to use the claim.

Does an organization verify that the label standards are met?
Yes. The EPA does require safety testing of active ingredients prior to marketing before cleaning products can make a “mold or mildew resistant” claim. The EPA, and the FTC have taken action against some products, in some cases involving fines of $100,000. However, their ability to do so is significantly limited by legal and resource constraints, and numerous products (particularly treated articles) are on the market that make improper claims.

Is the meaning of the label consistent?
No, since EPA does not routinely review efficacy data for “mold or mildew resistant,” the claim can vary in meaning.

Are the label standards publicly available?
Yes, all laws and government standards and policies are publicly available.

Is information about the standard organization publicly available?
Yes, information about government agencies is available (by phone, through publications, and through their websites).

Is the organization behind the label free from conflict of public interest?
Yes, in that it is a government agency

Was the label developed with broad public and industry input?
Yes.
 
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