When people become parents, it is normal to experience some initial dismay at the increased amount of laundry, dishes and cleaning chores that seem to come along with the joys of parenthood. Concerns about germs that might sicken the children can cause parents to go overboard and choose the strongest cleaners available as they strive for a sterile home environment. Unfortunately, the same chemical cleaners used to clean the home can actually cause many heath problems for the kids who are exposed to them.
Common Health Issues Associated With Household Chemical Use
Every dedicated parent is very aware of the need to keep household supplies and cleaners safely out of reach of inquisitive children. These same parents, however, may not realize the danger of using these strong chemicals on floors and other surfaces where children play or touch.
Many health experts now see a connection between the use of chemical based cleaners and the development of skin and eye irritation, breathing issues, allergies and a myriad of other health conditions.
In most cases, the chemicals are absorbed into the child’s body through contact with their skin, by ingesting the chemicals in some manner, or by inhaling the fumes or vapors given off by these products.
Here is a list of health issues and symptoms that may be caused by this type of exposure:
- Eye conditions, including itchiness, watery eyes and puffiness of the eye area
- Breathing issues, such as allergies and asthma, as well as airway irritation that can complicate other health issues
- Skin conditions such as eczema, unexplained rashes and sensitivity issues
In addition to these known issues, medical experts are also probing the connection between strong fragrances commonly used in household cleaners, air fresheners and perfumed sprays for other, more serious, health issues. Phthalates, an ingredient commonly included in the fragrances of harsh cleaners and solvents, is thought to cause disrupted hormone levels in developing children.
Can a House Be Too Clean?
Many experts who study allergies are now debating whether a home can actually be too clean. As odd as this may sound to parents who dream of the spotless homes they enjoyed pre-baby, the hygiene hypothesis actually suggests that children cannot develop a healthy and robust immune system when their homes are constantly sanitized of all germs and bacteria.
An Alternate Route To A Clean Home
Parents who want their children to experience a healthy home environment without the risk of side effects from exposure to chemically enhanced cleaning products can opt for safer, more natural products. When shopping, read the labels and avoid any products that contain long lists of complicated chemicals or solvents, especially those that are known to be caustic. Instead, look for products that contain the following wording on the labels:
In addition to changing shopping habits, many parents choose to make some of their own household cleaners using natural, non-toxic ingredients, such as vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, and salt. Many find that these simple recipes are just as effective as the harsh cleaners previously used, but offer a much safer home environment for the family.
Organizations such as Green Seal and Design for the Environment, or DfE, can offer additional information to help parents choose safe and effective cleaners, methods and services.