Sep 01, 2013
Down and Dirty
It’s certainly no surprise that the common household products we use to clean our homes with contain toxic and harmful ingredients. What you may not know is exactly HOW harmful they are to our health. Did you know that manufacturers are not obliged by U.S. law to list all the ingredients in consumer products or to test their products for safety? It’s up to you to be able to come home to a not only clean but toxic free environment!!
Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy figuring out which products contain hazardous ingredients.. even though cleaners are the only household products regulated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission under the Federal Substances Labeling Act, their sellers aren’t required to reveal the products’ ingredients. There are so many hidden and dangerous chemicals that we don't know about! Fortunately, as of 2012, SC Johnson agreed to disclose preservatives and a master list of all fragrance chemicals. So if you are a fan of their cleaning products, you can check out their website and see what each product is composed of.
Here's the dirty truth about cleaning products that you won't find on their label...
Ammonia is found in many cleaners and can irritate or burn skin and mucous membranes and when mixed with bleach it produces a highly poisonous chloramine gas which can severe lung damage. High exposure to ammonia can cause chronic bronchitis and asthma.
Products to avoid: Lysol Disinfectant Sprays, Mr. Clean products, Windex
Phthalates: Found in many fragranced household products like air fresheners, dish soap and even toilet paper. You probably won’t see this on the label because of proprietary laws, but if you see the word “fragrance” phthalates is most likely going to be present. Phthalates are known to be endocrine disruptors and it suppresses male hormones and mimics female hormones, which is more harmful to children than adults. Most vulnerable of all are male fetuses during the first trimester of pregnancy, just when they are differentiating their sex. Exposure to phthalates may “feminize” boys. Sounds crazy, right?
Products to avoid:: Simple Greens Naturals Muti-Surface Care, Glade’s Tough Odor Solutions with Oust Air Sanitizer,
Triclosan: Found in most liquid dishwashing detergents and hand soaps labeled “antibacterial” and can cause impaired thyroid function and liver toxicity. According to researchers at the University of California Davis, triclosan may impair muscle function in both animals and humans. Exposure to trioclosan actually disrupted the cell communication that is necessary for muscles to function properly. This causes failure in both the cardiac and skeletal muscle cells.
Products to avoid:: Dial Hand Soap, Palmolive Concentrated Dish Liquid, Joy Anitbacterial Orange Dishwashing Liquid.
2-butoxyethanol: Found in window, kitchen, and multipurpose cleaners. Exposure to this toxin may result in respiratory irritation (common symptoms like sore throat, coughing, headache, nausea and shortness of breath) and can also contribute to narcosis, pulmonary edema and severe liver and kidney damage. It’s also believed that 2-butoxythanol contributed to the significantly shorter lifespan of Exxon Valdez clean-up workers, which is why a chemical found in this toxin, corexit 9527 was banned in the United Kingdom.
Products to avoid:: ALOT. Check them out here. To name a few, America’s Home Value All Purpose Cleaner, Aroma Clean by Simple Green, America’s Home Value Bathroom Cleaner, Fresh Scent Pine-Sol Spray & Mop Floor Cleaner and Formula 409 Glass & Surface Cleaner.
Toluene: Found in hard surface cleaners, Is a harmful chemical that can be very detrimental to women who are pregnant, associated with low birth weight or size, learning disabilities and hearing loss. It’s difficult to avoid this toxin because you may not even know it’s there!
Products to avoid::Simple green cleaner, Pine Sol original formula
Beware of greenwashing!
According to the 2010 greenwashing report, more than 95% of consumer products claiming to be green were found to commit at least one of the “sins of greenwashing” like making a vague claim that is most likely to be misunderstood by the consumer. “All-natural”, for example, can contain naturally occurring but poisonous substances like arsenic, uranium, mercury and formaldehyde. “All natural” doesn’t mean that its good for you.
Just like food, read the labels and choose cleaning products that don’t contain or have low amounts of VOCs, fragrances, irritants and flammable ingredients. Don’t buy into the “green” and “all-natural” labels. Simple at home recipes are a great alternative to avoid those nasty added chemicals. They do the job without the health hazards. Click here for recipes!