Green Glossary of Terms (N-Z)

Green Glossary (continued)

Nonylphenol ethoxylate: Found in laundry detergents and other cleaners – also banned in Europe. Other uses include paints, and pesticides. Their impact is to act as an endocrine disrupter as well as an imitator of estrogen.

Organic: Products including foods and clothing grown or raised without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or hormones.

Phenols: Found in disinfectants. Identified by the CDC as having an adverse impact on infants with exposure.

Petroleum solvents: Refined hydrocarbons that are used as cleaners damage mucous membranes.

Perchloroethylene (PERC): according to the EPA, this is used predominantly by the dry cleaning industry (80% – 85% of all usage). Unfortunately, PERC affects the nervous system and is classified by the EPC as a “possible carcinogen”.

Photovoltaic (PV): System converting sunlight into electricity.

Phthalate: Found in fragranced household products (air fresheners, soaps,& toilet paper). Scents are not disclosed due to legal protection with proprietary scents. All you see is the word “fragrance” on the label. These are known endocrine disruptors.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs):  Used in many products such as electronics, inks, adhesives, flame-retardants, and paint. Due to their toxic nature, PCBs have been banned in the United States and severely restricted in other countries. Microbeads in the water supply have a chemical nature that causes them to bind with PCBs making them even more toxic. PCBs have long been associated with cancers and liver diseases.

Post-Consumer Recycled Content: Materials recovered after use as a consumer product.

Pre-consumer Recycled Content: Material that is removed from traditional waste process through some reclamation process.  Scrap from manufacturing that can be repurposed rather than sent to landfill.

Recyclable Content: Material recovered or diverted from waste for recycling and reuse.

Recycled Content: Percentage of recycled material in a product, generally determined by weight.

Recycling: Collection and processing of materials for a new purpose. Removes materials from waste and result in new raw materials.

Renewable Energy: Energy resources such as wind or solar that produce without being depleted.

Renewable Resources: Resources that are created or grown at least as fast as they are consumed.

R-Value: Measure of the thermal resistance of material, specifically insulating products.

Sodium Hydroxide: Commonly known as lye and is found in drain openers and oven cleaners. Contact with skin can create severe and long-lasting burns.

Sustainability: In environmental terms, are renewable resource harvest, pollution creation, and non-renewable resource depletion that can be continued indefinitely. If they cannot be continued indefinitely then they are not sustainable. “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  (Report of the Brundtland Commission, Our Common Future, 1987.)

Toxic:  Material or waste product that can produce injury, adverse health, or a loss of life when inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through skin.

Triclosan: Found in liquid dishwashing detergents and hand soaps that include the antibacterial label. The EPA has historically reported Triclosans as safe for humans; however, new studies are starting to challenge this. The greater immediate concern is that overuse may lead to stronger strains of bacteria resistant to these agents.

Volatile Organic Compound (VOC): VOCs are chemical gasses emitted from certain solids or liquids. VOCs bring with them a range of adverse health affects from exposure. Household and office concentrations of VOCs are typically 10 times greater than outdoors. Common sources of VOCs include home and office cleaning supplies,paints, paint strippers, pesticides, office furnishings, and office equipment such as printers. Health affects range from respiratory irritation to cancers.


Return to A-M