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Thread: Warning to all pet owners

  1. #1

    Warning to all pet owners

    I wasn't sure where to put this really, but after we all agreed on how much we love the Swiffer wet jet in the "consumer" thread, I got this email today and it was actually quite startling.

    This comes from someone who volunteers in an animal shelter so I
    take it seriously. Wouldn't you know, I just bought one!! Luckily, I
    don't clean very often!! H.
    We got this warning passed around today from the shelter about "Swiffer
    Wetjet" floor cleaner.
    Thought I would pass it on to all of you since you have animals yourself
    or friends who have animals ...
    Very dangerous stuff!!

    Warning for your animal's health:

    I recently had a neighbor who had to have their 5-year old German
    Shepherd dog put down due to liver failure. The dog was completely
    healthy until a few weeks ago, so they had a necropsy done to see
    what the cause was. The liver levels were unbelievable, as if the
    dog had ingested poison of some kind. The dog is kept inside, and
    when he's outside, someone's with him, so the idea of him getting
    into something unknown was hard to believe. My neighbor started going
    through all the items in the house. When he got to the Swiffer
    Wetjet, he noticed, in very tiny print, a warning which stated "may
    be harmful to small children and animals." He called the company to
    ask what the contents of the cleaning agent are and was astounded to
    find out that anitfreeze is one of the ingredients. (actually he was
    told it's a compound which is one molecule away from anitfreeze).

    Therefore, just by the dog walking on the floor cleaned with the
    solution, then licking it's own paws, and the dog eating from its
    dishes which were kept on the kitchen floor cleaned with this
    product, it ingested enough of the solution to destroy its liver.
    Soon after his dog's death, his housekeepers' two cats also died of
    liver failure. They both used the Swiffer Wetjet for quick cleanups
    on their floors. Necropsies weren't done on the cats, so they
    couldn't file a lawsuit, but he asked that we spread the word to as
    many people as possible so they don't lose their animals.


  2. #2
    Hypermediocrity Amanda's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    It's not true, Wynd. Snopes debunked it.


    Quote Originally Posted by snopes
    So much about this anonymous message purportedly detailing the demise of someone's neighbor's dog and that neighbor's housekeeper's two cats is either wrong or unverifiable that we cannot see how it could reasonably be considered anything but false:

    * The message gives no information about its writer or either of the pet owners, and thus provides no avenue through which inquiries can be made to verify its contents. It appears to have been disseminated through its posting to many different dog-related newsgroups and mailing lists, always by a second-hand source who had "received it in e-mail."

    * The claims that the cleaning agent used with the Swiffer WetJet is "antifreeze" or "a compound which is one molecule away from" something else are quite similar to a number of other alarmist scares we've seen (such as one about margarine) and are indicative of an uninformed writer's making unwarranted assumptions.

    According to P&G's Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), most of the cleaning fluid used in the Swiffer WetJet system is water (somewhere between 90 and 100 percent), with propylene glycol n-propyl ether and isopropyl alcohol making up between 1 and 4 percent each, and the remainder of the solution composed of minor ingredients and preservatives.

    The two most common compounds found in antifreeze and deicing solutions are ethylene glycol and propylene glycol. The former has been identified as posing a danger to pets, but propylene glycol is much safer than ethylene glycol it has been classified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an additive that is "generally recognized as safe" for use in food, it is found in a variety of medicines and cosmetics, and it is recommended as a safe alternative to antifreeze for pet owners. Moreover, what the Swiffer Wetjet cleaning solution contains is not propylene glycol itself, but propylene glycol n-propyl ether, an ingredient found in many, many different brands and types of household cleaning products. If this compound truly posed a significant risk of causing fatal liver damage in cats and dogs, we should be hearing about many more pet deaths associated with cleaning products other than the Swiffer WetJet.

    Also note that the danger posed to pets by antifreeze (i.e., ethylene glycol) has to do kidney failure, not destruction of the liver as claimed in the message quoted above.

    * The warning message claims that the anonymous writer found on his WetJet packaging a warning label which stated that the product "may be harmful to small children and animals." We examined the warning labels on every Swiffer WetJet product we could find at our local stores, and none of them bore such wording. The labelling on all these products (i.e., the Swiffer WetJet Power Mop with Jet-Action Sprayer, the Wood Floor Cleaner, the Multi-Purpose Cleaner, and the Cleaning Pad Refill) was identical and read: "AVOID ACCIDENTS: KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN AND PETS. In case of eye contact, flush thoroughly with water. If irritation persists, call a physician." This is the standard boilerplate warning label found on virtually every household cleaning product to inform users that cleaning agents are generally caustic and may be harmful should they come into direct contact with the eye. On Swiffer products, the first line of the warning (the one referencing children and pets) was presented in block letters and in darker type that the rest of the message, all of which was listed in three languages: English, French, and Spanish.

    Only the warning carried on the Antibacterial Cleaner solution was different after an expanded caution about not getting the product into one's eyes and the procedure for flushing exposed eyes with water, it concluded, ''Contact a Poison Control Center or doctor for treatment advice. Have the product container or label with you when calling the Poison Control Center or doctor or going for treatment." Nowhere on this label was there mention of children or pets, and even the part of the warning devoted to Poison Control Centers and doctors might well have applied only to the preceding passage about getting the solution into one's eyes. No Swiffer product carried a warning cautioning users that its toxicity might pose a danger to children or pets, as suggested by the message quoted above.

    On its web site, Procter and Gamble explains its Swiffer WetJet cleaning system as an all-in-one, ready-to-use mopping system. According to the entry in its "Swiffer Q&A" section devoted to the question of whether the product is safe to use around pets:

    Great news for you and your pets! Swiffer Wet and Swiffer WetJet are specially designed to not leave a residue on the floor, so there's no need to rinse. We suggest you make sure the floor is completely dry before letting your pet walk on it, though, because wet floors can be slippery. Since there isn't a residue, there are no problems if your pet licks the floor.

    No more worrying about the owner of those muddy paw prints. You can enjoy the convenience of our Swiffer products without any worries for your pet's safety.

    In direct response to the e-mail's charge, Procter and Gamble has posted a rebuttal:

    There is a false Internet rumor circulating rapidly among pet owners alleging that Swiffer WetJet may contain antifreeze and is harmful to pets. The Wet cloths and WetJet liquid solution cleaners do not contain antifreeze or any ingredient similar to it. In fact, all Swiffer products are safe to use around pets.

    We evaluated the Swiffer Wet cloths and WetJet cleaners to ensure they're safe a fact confirmed by the ASPCA, independent veterinarians and scientists. In fact, for nearly five years, people in over 38 million U.S. homes have safely used Swiffer products on everything from the kitchen and living room floors to tables and ceiling fans.

    We have pets too, and their health and well-being is very important to us. Please help us stop this rumor by sharing the truth with others.

    The ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center has also issued a statement declaring this rumor to be unfounded:

    Veterinary toxicologists at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center have reviewed the claim described in a widely distributed email alleging a relationship between the use of Swiffer Wet Jet and liver failure in a dog. The email alleges that exposure to the ingredients in Swiffer Wet Jet caused a dog's death.

    The Swiffer Wet Jet system contains water (90-100%), propylene glycol n-propyl ether or propylene glycol n-butyl ether and isopropyl alcohol (1-4%). These ingredients are safe to use around pets when used according to label directions and would not cause liver damage at product concentrations. Propylene glycol n-butyl/propyl ether differs significantly from ethylene glycol, the potentially toxic ingredient present in most antifreeze products. Ethylene glycol is frequently implicated in causing renal failure in dogs following antifreeze ingestion. Propylene glycol n-propyl ether and propylene glycol n-butyl ether are very safe ingredients at levels used in cleaning products and do not cause kidney or liver failure.

    If this warning is as unsubstantiated as it appears to be, then why did someone write it? One possibility is that most pet owners are of course quite distraught when beloved, apparently healthy animal companions die for no obvious reason, and in their grief they understandably try to make sense of the otherwise unexplainable by finding something to which the deaths can be attributed. Unfortunately, this emotional reaction often leads people to lay the blame on agents that may have only a coincidental connection to events. For example, a pet owner re-carpets his home, and a week later both his dogs suddenly die. In this circumstance, many people would quite naturally assume that the new carpeting which draws attention as the most substantial and visible change to the household must have been connected to the death of the dogs, but much more evidence would be necessary to draw that conclusion. Quite possibly a factor (or combination of factors) unrelated to carpeting was the cause, and the timing of the dogs' deaths was completely coincidental. Or the connection may have been tangential perhaps after the new carpeting was installed, the residents took to removing their shoes upon entering the house; the dogs, now having convenient access to those shoes, began to chew or lick them, thereby picking up some kind of toxin or illness-causing biological agent carried in from the outside on those shoes.

    Also, given this message's similarity to a different, unfounded e-mail warning about another Procter & Gamble product, Febreze, we'd have to consider the possibility that someone with a grudge against Procter & Gamble is maliciously trying to damage the company by deliberately spreading false information about their products.

  3. #3
    Soccer Kicks Balls cali's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    right behind you
    I love snopes!

    I was freakin' out for a minute though
    "Rice is great when you're hungry and want 2,000 of something' -- Mitch Hedberg

  4. #4
    FORT Fogey Lil Bit's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Quote Originally Posted by cali
    I love snopes!

    I was freakin' out for a minute though
    Wow!! So was I.
    When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down "Happy." They told me I didn't understand the assignment. I told them they didn't understand life. - John Lennon

  5. #5
    I like them silent WomynLee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Los Angeles
    I remember reading that it was relatively pet friendly if used as directed.

  6. #6
    Yeah it is an Urban Legend. I looked it up at Truthorfiction.com too...I got it in an email months ago, and I sent the sender a copy of what truth said about the hoax.

  7. #7
    The race is back! John's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    On the mat
    I highly recommend whenever you get ANYTHING via e-mail, before posting it or forwarding it, CHECK SNOPES. 99.9% of the time, it's false.

    Now, if anyone knows of a way to convince my grandmother to do this, please let me know. She's the queen of forwarding e-mails that are BS.

  8. #8
    I work in a grocery store and we had to investigate this for a customer who had heard about it.Same thing went on with febreeze if I remember correctly.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by hollywoodbarbie
    I work in a grocery store and we had to investigate this for a customer who had heard about it.Same thing went on with febreeze if I remember correctly.
    I remember that the febreeze warning ended up being incorrect too.

    However, I believe/recall that the "chocolate" brown "mulch" is poisioness because the smell/taste attracts dogs. If anyone else has more info that would be a good warning for pet owners.

  10. #10
    The race is back! John's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    On the mat
    Well, once again Snopes has the answer for those willing to take a few seconds and look.


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