Harmful chemicals are mass produced and perceived as effective cleaning agents, despite the illusion of being safe, these chemicals can have serious health repercussions for humans, animals and the environment, inside and outside the home. The Silent Spring Institute found concentrations of toxic chemicals, chemicals that have been linked to cancer, inside the home can be 200-500 times higher than the concentrations outside.
“We use a wide array of scents, soaps, detergents, bleaching agents, softeners, scourers, polishes and specialized cleaners for bathrooms, glass, drains and ovens to keep our homes sparkling and sweet-smelling,” reports the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). “But [many] contribute to indoor air pollution, are poisonous if ingested and can be harmful if inhaled or touched.” The OCA goes on further explaining that household cleaning products are responsible for nearly 10 percent of all toxic exposures reported to U.S. poison control centers, with more than half of those cases involving kids under six years old.
The body is exposed to the harmful effects of chemicals each time the toxic cleaner is used, through breathing in toxic vapors and absorbing chemicals through the skin. The environment is also damaged from the chemicals during the production, packaging and disposal processes.
When choosing cleaners avoid products that contain the following toxic substances:
- Alkyphenol ethoxylates are used in detergents and can disrupt the natural hormone balance.
- Butyl cellosolve is a common degreaser that can cause nausea, headaches and possibly more serious complications when inhaled.
- Petroleum is often the base in cleansers and soaps.
- Synthetic fragrances can interfere with regular breathing and cause irritation and some have been found to contain phthalates which are carcinogens.
- Chlorine bleach is highly poisonous and very irritating. When poured into plumbing, chlorine bleach can form organochlorines, which are both toxic and carcinogenic. If mixed with ammonia, chlorine bleach becomes toxic chlorine gas.
The simplest and most effective way to forgo harmful side effects from the chemical exposure from common cleaning products is to substitute natural, non-toxic cleaning methods and products. Many products are available on the market or make your own.