Silicone-Based Solvents Potentially Unsafe
Green Earth, created by Dow Corning, is an increasingly popular garment cleaning process that employs a silicone-based solvent called D-5. The solvent is an odorless and colorless liquid. D-5 carries detergent to clothes and then rinses away suspended dirt and oils that become trapped by the detergent.
In a March 2006 Fact Sheet on D-5. the Silicones Environmental Health and Safety Council (or SEHSC) reported an increased prevalence of uterine tumors and an increased liver weight in rats that had been exposed to D-5. According to the SEHSC, D-5 was shown to cause cancer in rats during a two-year study.
The EPA does not yet regulate D-5 because it is a new chemical. With exceptions of food, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and a handful of other industries, new chemicals can be introduced to the market without being reviewed by the EPA. Until evidence is brought to the EPA that proves a chemical is unsafe, the EPA does not restrict its use.
The SEHSC, which is an industry trade group that represents the manufactures of D-5, claims that studies indicate that the cancer risk observed in rats is specific to rodents and has no relevance to human health.