Category Archives: Hazardous Cleaning Products

National Poison Prevention Week: Safe Guard Your Family

With National Poison Prevention Week among us, it’s important to make sure that you’re always doing everything that you can to keep your family safe from harm. National Poison Prevention Week takes place the third week of March and is designed to highlight a very important issue: the accidental poisoning that is occurring in huge numbers across the country each year.

baby-17327_1280National Poison Statistics

According to PoisonPrevention.org, more than two million poisonings are reported around the country annually. More than 90 percent of those occur in the home and, to make matters worse, the majority of non-fatal poisonings involve kids that are younger than six-years-old. The top five most common culprits in children include personal care products, household cleaning agents, analgesics, toys or miscellaneous items and topical medications. 

The Problem With Plastics

If you want to take a proactive approach to safe guarding your family from the dangers of unintentional household poisons, it is important to keep a few key things in mind. For starters, to reduce the number of questionable chemicals your family may be exposed to, get rid of plastic items and replace with safer materials.

Think about all of the plastic items that you have in your home that may fall into this category. This can include baby bottles, kids sippy cups, food storage containers and more.  Swap these items with more environmentally friendly alternatives, such as glass or BPA-free containers.

Cleaning Products: Out With the Old, In With the Eco-friendly

Next, pay close attention to the types of cleaning products that you’re using to keep your home clean and free from germs. Toss the chemically laden cleaners in favor of greener solutions. Consider using all-natural versions or even popular household ingredients like distilled white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, lemon and baking soda. If you do purchase store-bought items, don’t rely on a label that says “all-natural” or “green” – more often than not it is only telling part of the story. Choose products that are certified by organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Choice label to make sure you’re getting a product that perform well and are actually safe for human health.

How Fresh Are Your Air Fresheners

Finally, look into replacing all of those air fresheners that you might be using. You may like the smell, but really all you’re doing is poisoning the air that your family is breathing and creating an unsafe environment for everyone involved. Many air fresheners can contain phthalates, carcinogens, neurotoxins and other ingredients that can lead to breathing problems, allergies, asthma and other types of lung diseases. Instead, reduce that indoor air pollution by freshening up your home in the natural way. Consider using baking soda to eliminate odors, for example, or add more plants to your home for that all-day fresh smell.

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Hazardous Effects of Bleach

Chlorine-based bleaches are commonly found in many household cleaning products that are used to whiten laundry, sanitize surfaces and eliminate mold and mildew. While its disinfecting properties may seem to contribute to a healthier indoor environment, this chemical is harmful to human health and the planet. Before you open that next bottle of bleach, it is important to understand just how hazardous it can be.

Mild Effects Can Turn Serious

Some of the health hazards of chlorine bleach are mild and can include watery eyes, skin irritation and breathing problems – coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. Many people may have experienced these effects at some point while cleaning in enclosed spaces and poorly ventilated areas, such as bathrooms. However, while these symptoms typically go away after a thorough flushing with water, the exposure to chlorine may have long-term effects. Studies now suggest that adverse health affects are often found in individuals continuously exposed to chlorine bleach through inhalation and skin absorption.

Cleaning with Bleach

Mixing Household Bleach and Other Products Can be Lethal

Many household cleaners contain chlorine bleach to help kill bacteria, eliminate stains and remove grime from various home surfaces. While moderate symptoms include irritation to the eyes, skin and lungs, there are far more serious consequences, such as fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema). When mixed with other products, either intentionally or accidentally, the chlorine emits a poisonous gas that when inhaled, can cause neurological problems and potential death. Consumers who are unaware of this may add bleach to a toilet bowl after adding another cleaner; inadvertently creating highly toxic fumes. Mixing bleach with ammonia, drain cleaners or scouring powder, as well as with natural acidic cleaners like vinegar can also be dangerous.

Inadvertent Pollution Is Common

Household cleaners are not the only problem; it is also washing machines and dishwashers. As many dishwashing detergents and laundry products contain chlorine, when these devices are turned on the chlorine becomes airborne in a process called volatilization. Those in the household then breathe in the chlorine-contaminated air. Scented laundry bleach is particularly dangerous, because it makes the scent of chlorine pleasant, which can disguise the harmful health effects.

Industrial bleaching agents also have serious environmental impacts. Once the compounds reach water, chlorine reacts with other minerals and elements to form an array of dangerous toxins, such as dioxin. Theses toxins linger in our eco-systems, are extremely harmful to aquatic and wildlife, as well as takes years to dissipate.

Protect yourself and family from the health hazardous of bleach by switching to less corrosive materials. You will be surprised at how well you can tackle cleaning chores with common ingredients, like vinegar and baking soda, found in your cupboard. Hydrogen peroxide is also a great whitening alternative due to its oxidization properties. Not only are these products safe for human health and the environment, but they are cost effective too!

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Cleaning chemicals and Children’s Health

Protecting your children’s health is paramount. Parents are cognizant of nutrition, maintaining a well balanced diet and physical activity; however, it is also critical to minimize exposure to chemicals. Children touch more things, play with toys and crawl on the floor, which have all come into contact with household cleaning products. Harsh ingredients contained in cleaning products and laundry detergents can cause skin irritation and breathing ailments. Toxic ingredients are also linked to affecting the development of endocrine and neurological systems, as well as other serious health issues. The use of household cleaners to keep the home spotless can be caustic and children are more susceptible to these health dangers.

Baby On Floor

Why Children Are At Greater Risk

The reason children are at a greater risk of harm from chemicals is because of their size. Although both adults and children are exposed to the chemical, chemicals enter children’s smaller bodies in more concentrated amounts. Additionally, children are more susceptible to the adverse health affects due to their developing organs. Neural development occurs quickly in both pregnancy and early childhood. Recent studies suggest that exposure to toxic chemicals can cause Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), autism, early puberty and low testosterone levels in males.

Children also have greater exposure to pollutants in the air. Infants and young children often breathe more rapidly and thus, toxins enter their bodies at a higher rate. Furthermore, since children breathe through their mouths versus their nose they often inhale more airborne pollutants. As a result, children are more prone to respiratory illnesses. The heightened sensitivity may also trigger an asthma attack because their narrower airways are irritated or inflamed. Also, inhaling chemicals, such as lead, is more easily accumulated in growing bones.

Accidental Ingestion

In addition to absorbing the chemicals through the household environment and air, accidental ingestion is an obvious concern for children. Every year, hundreds of thousands of kids under the age of five swallow poisons like household cleaners. In fact, in a 2000 report issued by the U.S. Poison Control Centers, showed that out of 206,636 calls received, 120,434 involved children under the age of six. More recently, a number of cases have occurred where children ingested laundry detergent pods because their colorful, gel-like qualities closely resembled candy.

Ingredients Known to Have Health Effects on Children

Although parents are careful about the choking hazardous of toys, a variety of synthetic chemicals and heavy metals, such as lead and phthalates, can ruin playtime fun. Phthalates are often used as additives in plastics, to preserve scents or as softeners in personal care and beauty products. To reduce the worry, toys made of natural materials like solid wood and cotton are both safe and eco-friendly.

In addition children’s toys, food packing containers other materials often contain Bisphenol A (BPA) and PVC (polyvinyl chloride or vinyl). From an environmental and health standpoint, PVC is highly toxic. It is important to read product labels and purchase items like children’s drinking cups, bottles and raincoats that are marked BPA and PVC-free.

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