Let’s discuss Cleaning and Toxins.
You may assume that anything you buy at a store must be safe, but that’s not the case. Just because it’s meant for cleaning doesn’t mean that it’s healthy for
your body. Household cleaning products are crammed with chemicals that aren’t fully disclosed, aren’t approved, and might be causing harm to you, your family, your pets, and other loved ones.
The average household has 62 toxic chemicals, according to environmental experts. Ingredients in common household cleaners have been linked to asthma, cancer, reproductive disorders, hormone disruption, and neurotoxicity. Effects of toxic cleaning products
The most acutely dangerous cleaning products are corrosive drain cleaners, oven cleaners, and acidic toilet bowl cleaners. Corrosive chemicals can cause severe burns on the eyes, skin, and, if ingested, on the throat and esophagus. Ingredients to look out for include chlorine bleach and ammonia, which produce highly irritating fumes and trigger asthma attacks. Unlike foods, beverages, cosmetics, and other personal care products, cleaning products are not required by federal law to carry a list of ingredients.
What we do know is that chronic exposure to toxic fumes and chemicals adds to what is known as the body’s “toxic burden,” or “body burden.” This refers to the total accumulation of toxins in your body, precisely the number of chemicals stored in your tissue at any given time. When your system is exposed to too many heavy metals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, or other toxins, it becomes fatigued and loses its ability to flush them out. This leads to illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, fibromyalgia, hormone imbalance, and infertility, to name a few.
Phthalates are known to disrupt hormone secretion and can cause infertility. Although exposure mainly occurs through inhalation, it can be absorbed through the skin through scented soap products. This is problematic because the skin, unlike the digestive system, has no safeguards against toxins, so absorbed chemicals go straight to the organs. Found in many household products such as air fresheners, dish soap, and even toilet paper, phthalates are chemicals used to extend aromatic strength in scented products.
Triclosan is in most liquid dishwashing detergents and hand soaps labeled “Antibacterial.” While this chemical works well as an agent that can promote the
growth of drug-resistant bacteria, it can also disrupt hormone function and is a possible carcinogen.
Laundry Detergent such as ocean-breeze or cotton scented laundry detergent might smell great to your nose, but it could be hazardous to your overall health. If one of the ingredients in a product is listed as “fragrance,” chances are that the product has a cocktail of non-natural chemicals that are likely more toxic than good for you. Studies have found that one-third of all scented detergents contain at least one chemical flagged by the EPA as potentially cancer-causing. On average, toxic laundry detergent products emit 17 toxins that go unlisted on the label and which cause problems ranging from skin irritation to neurological damage.
Multipurpose Cleaners can cause extreme irritation when inhaled in an unventilated area, like a bathroom. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, high levels of 2-butoxyethanol in mild cases can cause sore throats but contribute to narcosis, pulmonary edema, and severe liver and kidney damage over time. Unfortunately, the law does not require 2-butoxyethanol to be listed on a product’s label, so your best bet is to use DIY products from natural ingredients or do some research about the types of products that you buy.
Ammonia is a powerful irritant and will affect you right away — the smell itself is harsh and intense. The people who are most susceptible to the dangers of ammonia are people with lung and breathing problems, as well as the elderly. Because it’s hard to avoid breathing in ammonia during use, people who get a lot of ammonia exposure, like housekeepers, will often develop chronic bronchitis and asthma. As an important side note, ammonia can also create a poisonous gas mixed with bleach. What’s lurking in your cleaning products
Other Factors to Consider
If you have pets or children who regularly play on the floor, you should pay close attention to the type of floor cleaner that you’re using. In many commercial brand floor cleaners, vapors linger and can be dangerous. Please do your research to find a pet-safe floor cleaner (which will be safe for babies too), or make your floor cleaner out of natural products so that you know what’s in it. The same goes for surface cleaners and yard/garden products. If anyone is likely to be eating off a surface, walking, or playing on a surface, you should do your best to ensure that the products used to clean that area are free and clear of harmful toxins.
In addition to affecting the personal health of you and your loved ones, using toxic cleaning products can also threaten water quality and wildlife after they disappear down the drain. Many of the chemicals we’ve discussed are not readily biodegradable in soil and water, so they hang around as a pollutant. Their presence harms wildlife and eventually makes its way back to us – the water we pollute will ultimately be consumed by us or at least by the plants and animals we consume.
Just because it’s in a green bottle, a cardboard box, or has some nature-themed design to it doesn’t mean that it’s non-toxic. Terms such as “natural” and “eco-friendly.” shouldn’t be equated with safety unless they’re backed up with specific ingredient information such as “solvent-free,” “no petroleum-based ingredients,” and “No phosphates.” The term “non-toxic” has no official definition, so don’t take it at face value unless a third party has verified this claim.
The best thing you can start doing right away is to use fewer products less often. Find a few multipurpose products that work well and use the remainder of what you have very sparingly. Even better, dispose of those products so that they’re out of your house. Some cities have special facilities that will collect the toxins from your home. If this service is unavailable to you, throw them into the trash, don’t pour them down the drain.
Buy from companies you trust and do your research. Find out their mission statement. Does it include something about the environment? Does it refuse to test
on animals? If so, these are signs that the company is probably ethical and confident that their product won’t cause you or your loved ones any harm.
Another option is to make your cleaning products! Natural ingredients such as baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, and vodka are likely already in your pantry and can double as honest household cleaners.
If you have any questions or issues, don’t hesitate to contact our office or schedule an appointment online.