I think that most people have heard that cleaning products can be toxic, but for some reason push the fact to the back of their minds. The fact is that, according to environmental experts, there are over 60 toxic chemicals found in the average household and we’re routinely being exposed to them by simply cleaning the oven, making our countertops and kitchen cabinets clean and shiny, you get the picture. It’s scary to think that in our efforts to disinfect and clean our homes we’re actually poisoning ourselves.
Your Average Household Cleaning Products
The ingredients found in everyday household products have been linked to cancer, asthma, reproductive disorders, neurotoxicity, hormone disruption and many other health issues. Sure, the companies that make these products assert that being exposed to these toxins in small amounts isn’t an issue, but the fact is that most of us are regularly exposed to them and for years, which eventually add up to what is referred to as the body’s toxic burden which means the number of chemicals that are stored in tissue at any given time. There are also several products that cause immediate reactions (these are typically the ones with warning labels that tell you not to use them in enclosed areas) that include headaches and breathing problems.
“Green” Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Non-Toxic
Just because it says “Green” doesn’t mean its non-toxic. There’s a popular “Green” cleaning product on the market that claims that it is not only non-toxic but non-hazardous, non-corrosive, biodegradable, etc.
But guess what? The actual material data safety sheet for the product discloses that the solution has 2-Butoxyethanol in it which is a petrochemical solvent. Inhaling 2-Butoxyethanol can cause symptoms that include shortness of breath, headaches, coughing, and sore throat and can cause skin irritation that includes pain and redness. Chronic exposure can damage the lymphoid system, the kidneys, and liver and blood-forming organs.
Ingredients to Look For and Avoid
Phosphates – kills marine life by creating an overgrowth of algae. Phosphates are found in the automatic dish and laundry detergents, added to soften the water and remove oil and grease.
Nonylphenol ethoxylates – causes liver and kidney damage and reproductive defects and is commonly found in detergents and degreasers.
Volatile organic compounds – includes 1, 4-dichlorobenzene which can cause throat and nose irritation, asthma and dizziness and can be found in disinfectant cleaning products and solvents.
Ammonia – using ammonia regularly can lead to chronic bronchitis and asthma and is particularly dangerous for those who already have asthma or lung issues. Ammonia is used as a key component in a long list of cleaning products.
Chlorine – can cause respiratory problems at a severe level and can cause thyroid problems. Chlorine is a key ingredient in a number of products including mildew removers, toilet bowl cleaners, dishwashing detergents and chlorine bleach.
Glycol ethers – Overexposure to glycol ethers can cause intoxication, anemia and can be an eye and nose irritant. Glycol ethers are found in a variety of cleaning compounds and liquid soaps.
Ethanolamines – is irritating to the eyes, lungs, and skin and is commonly found in disinfecting and cleaning products.
Formaldehyde – is found in wick and spray deodorizers and a long list of cleaning and personal products. Formaldehyde is a suspected carcinogen and can cause irritation to the eyes, skin, nose, and throat and can cause asthmatic attacks, nausea, and headaches.
Keep in mind that even if you read the product label, you may not recognize the names of the ingredients listed because manufacturers frequently use word alternatives that don’t spell out what the chemicals listed actually are.
Cleaning Product Manufacturers Claim:
Most manufacturers claim that these ingredients are only toxic when exposed to in high quantities…
Well, wouldn’t the fact that most of us use cleaning products every day be considered being “exposed to high amounts”? After all, they’re “cleaning products”. We use them to wash the dishes, do the laundry, clean the windows, whiten our sheets, get the soap scum off the shower and bathtub tiles, clean the silverware, etc. Of course, we can’t avoid being exposed to toxic chemicals altogether, but we can reduce it significantly by using true natural, non-toxic cleaning products.