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Clean without cruelty

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ISSUE A lot of household cleaning products are tested on animals.Here are a few organic alternatives

Most of us wouldn’t dream of being cruel to animals, but consider this. As things stand, most household cleaning products that we buy in the country would have gone though the Guinea Pig Maximisation Test (GPMT), which requires 26 guinea pigs for testing each chemical in the product, to make sure that these chemicals are safe for us. The chemical to be tested would have been injected into the guinea pigs, and then rubbed on to their shaved skins in successively increasing concentrations, until the chemicals burnt their delicate skin.

Well, soaps, detergents, floor-cleaning fluids, dishwashing fluids, bleach, insect repellents, solvents, furniture polish, air fresheners... all the household products that we commonly use have been causing trauma to animals such as guinea pigs. Of course, testing to make sure that toxic ingredients get discarded from these products is surely necessary. But, on animals? The tests are unreliable, as the results of animal tests are often not applicable to humans.

“There are safe, feasible, extensive and effective alternatives to animal testing methods such as the Human Repeat Insult Patch Test (HRIPT) and Direct Peptide Reactivity Assay (DPRA),” says Chaitanya Koduri, science policy advisor, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India.

Several research centres in the country and outside it, such as the Scientific Research Centre of Kelkar Education Trust, Mumbai, and Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Lucknow, have been developing non-animal tests for safety evaluation of consumer products. But only a mandatory ban can make sure that firms manufacturing household cleaning products discard animal testing and adopt alternative testing methods. Israel has taken the lead in this.

So, will animal testing of household products be axed in India, the way animal testing of cosmetic products was banned a few months ago? Well, organisations such as PETA are campaigning for such a ban. “So far, the household products committee (Soaps and Other Surface Active Agents Committee (CHD 25) of the Chemical Division of the Bureau of Indian Standards has proposed such changes, but a ban on animal testing of household cleaning products is not yet in place,” says animal rights activist V. Vidya. Apparently, it is proactive public opinion and outreach that could help bring such a ban and end cruelty to animals.

Do your bit

Support the campaign against animal testing of household products and choose ones that have animal-cruelty free ratings / labels. Organic cleaning agents such as vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, soap nut powder, lemon grass oil, neem oil, and salt make for effective and environment-friendly alternatives.

HEMA VIJAY

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