Many consumers, with the best of intentions, are actually poisoning their homes with chemical laden cleaning products. While your home may look and smell clean, traditional household cleaners are toxic and pose serious adverse health problems. Here’s the dirt on five cleaning products that you should toss and replace with greener options.
Ammonia is a popular ingredient in glass and window cleaners. When used, ammonia can affect individuals immediately. It can irritate the lungs when inhaled and can cause burns when it comes into contact with the skin. In fact, long-term exposure often results in serious lung diseases, like asthma and bronchitis. Risks are amplified when mixed with other cleaning products, such as bleach. This chemical combination produces a highly poisonous gas.
Household bleach has many uses including whitening laundry, sanitizing household surfaces and killing mildew and mold. It is used alone and as a disinfecting ingredient in other products such as tub and tile cleaners and toilet bowl cleaners. However, the dangers of bleach are significant to your health. Exposure to bleach can immediately irritate eyes, skin and lungs. More serious side effects can include respiratory problems, headaches or migraines, skin burns and damage to the nervous system. When mixed with other cleaners, the toxic fumes emitted can be deadly. Additionally, studies have shown that exposure to bleach can disrupt the function of the thyroid gland in humans.
Triclosan is an aggressive antibacterial agent found in many consumer products, such antibacterial hand soap, dishwashing liquid and toothpaste. While research is undergoing, studies have linked this ingredient to possible endocrine and hormonal disruptions. Furthermore, the medical community is concerned that products containing triclosan are actually helping to promote the growth of drug-resistant bacteria, which could be disastrous for public health.
Oven cleaners contain sodium hydroxide, which is also called lye. It is a highly caustic substance that should never come into contact with the skin, as severe burns can occur. The substance also produces toxic vapors that burn the eyes if exposure is prolonged. Many who are exposed to oven cleaners in unventilated areas experience a sore throat that lasts for several days following use. This is due to the burning of the throat and lungs as the chemical is inhaled.
Like oven cleaners, drain cleaners also contain sodium hydroxide that can burn the skin, eyes and lungs if inhaled. Additionally, these products can cause blindness if they accidentally splash into the eyes. They can be deadly when poured into a drain or toilet that already contains a cleaning agent with bleach. When this occurs, deadly chlorine gas is formed.
Unfortunately, many of us were raised with these products in our homes. It is what we know and know works. However, not all the products lining the shelves of the grocery store are safe. Don’t brush the dangers of these products under the rug. Read the labels and look for green products that have garnished a seal of approval for being 100% all natural and non-toxic.