Category Archives: Traditional Household Cleaning Products

How Safe Are Your Cleaning Products?

green-cleaning-spray-bottlesMany popular mass-marketed cleaning products use persuasive language that promises consumers a more sanitary, more healthful home by choosing their product. While it may be true that their chemical composition will kill germs and bacteria, the potentially harmful effects of exposure to these chemicals may not be mentioned. In addition, many of these harmful chemicals have unfamiliar, hard to pronounce names that consumers may not recognize when reading the ingredient list.

The Who, What and Where of Potentially Harmful Cleaning Ingredients

This list focuses on helping consumers become more familiar with the chemical names of these harmful substances, as well as understand what problems they can cause and what type of cleaning product may contain them.

Ammonia (Azane)

This chemical has been used for cleaning for generations. Mass-produced and cheap, ammonia is found in many major brands of kitchen and glass cleaners, paint strippers, polishes, fertilizers, pesticides and adhesive removers.

The bad news is that ammonia is now known to irritate the respiratory tract, eyes and skin of those that are exposed to its fumes. To avoid the dangers of ammonia, consumers can opt to use the household staple, white vinegar, as an extremely effective substitute.

Bleach (Sodium Hypochlorite)

Similar to ammonia, bleach has been a household staple for decades. Bleach is found as a stand-alone product, as well as an ingredient in many detergents and laundry aids, automatic dishwashing products and disinfectant cleaners.

Bleach can cause severe skin and eye irritation, as well as respirator problems. More importantly, if accidentally mixed with other cleaning solutions, such as ammonia, it can emit poisonous gasses that are potentially fatal.

Today, households should banish bleach and replace with effective, natural solutions. Due to their antimicrobial properties, distilled white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide are both great substitutes for sanitizing. Hydrogen is also an effective whitener and can brighten your whites. Similarly, lemon juice can also provide a natural option for brightening laundry and removing stubborn stains.

Glycol Ethers (Ethylene Glycol Mon-Butyl Ether, EGBE, or 2_Butoxyethanol)

Many of the air freshening spray and mist products available today contain some form of glycol ethers, as well as popular glass cleaners, oven cleaners and spot removal products. Exposure to glycol ethers is now thought to cause serious health issues, like liver and kidney damage, as well as symptoms such as lethargy, nausea and fatigue.

Consumers may want to consider replacing any products that contain any form of glycol ethers with safe, natural and effective choices, such as white vinegar combined with essential oils to combat those tough cleaning jobs.

Lye (Sodium Hydroxide)

A common ingredient in household soaps, solvents, floor strippers, drain cleaners, oven cleaners and polishes, sodium hydroxide can actually cause poisoning when absorbed through the skin, inhaled or ingested. Additionally, the fumes from this chemical can irritate the eyes, respiratory tract and skin, when it is used without proper ventilation or protective clothing.

Consumers who want to avoid the dangers of exposure to sodium hydroxide can choose safe, natural alternatives such as vinegar, salt, lemon juice and baking soda to effectively clean and freshen drains, clean greasy ovens and even polish metals.

Opting For Health

These are just a few of the many chemicals commonly used in cleaning products sold today, as well as those used by the conventional cleaning industry. Consumers can lessen their risk to these and other chemicals by choosing natural cleaning agents and methods for their own homes, and by choosing professional cleaning services, like Mopfrog of South Milwaukee, who also embrace natural, more healthful cleaning options.

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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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What You Should Know About Household Cleaning Products

The next time you pick up that cleaning cloth to tackle household chores, take a moment to learn more about the cleaning products you are using in your home. While they may be great at scrubbing away dirt and grime, they may also be seriously impacting your family’s health.


Harmful Ingredients in Cleaning Products

Many of the ingredients contained in traditional household cleaners are now well recognized to have adverse health effects on human beings. One of these ingredients is formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen. In fact, the use of formaldehyde in cleaning and other products has been banned in many European countries due to concerns over its health impact. Other ingredients that are cause for concern include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ammonia and bleach.

Missing Label Information

While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires any cleaner used in commercial cleaning industries to have a documented list of ingredients supplied by the manufacturer – known as a Material Safety Data Sheet – the same does not apply for household cleaners sold for individual use. While some companies may include ingredient information on the cleaning product label, others omit and do not disclose ingredients or they rename ingredients to sound better. This means that consumers are kept in the dark as to what these products actually contain.

Health Concerns

The chemicals in some cleaners have been linked to hormone alternations, reproductive problems and neurological issues. While the major health risks are alarming, there are far more prevalent threats, especially for children and pets. The ingredients in many household cleaners are so harsh that they cause allergy and asthma flare-ups. Even more concerning is that children and pets are exposed to more of these toxic chemicals because they crawl or play on floors.

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