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Environmental chemical exposure is a major concern for consumers of packaged goods. The complexity of chemical nomenclature and wide availability of scientific research provide detailed information but lends itself to misinterpretation by the lay person. For the surfactant sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), this has resulted in a misunderstanding of the environmental health impact of the chemical and statements in the media that are not scientifically supported. This review demonstrates how scientific works can be misinterpreted and used in a manner that was not intended by the authors, while simultaneously providing insight into the true environmental health impact of SLS. SLS is an anionic surfactant commonly used in consumer household cleaning products. For decades, this chemical has been developing a negative reputation with consumers because of inaccurate interpretations of the scientific literature and confusion between SLS and chemicals with similar names. Here, we review the human and environmental toxicity profiles of SLS and demonstrate that it is safe for use in consumer household cleaning products.
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