Dangers of Chemical Cleaners
You deserve to know what is in the products you are using to clean your home....
Most household cleaners contain toxic chemicals. Ammonia, Formaldehyde, Phthalates, Benzalkonium Chlorid, and 2-butoxyethanol, are among them. Oven cleaners are one of the most toxic products people use. They contain lye and ammonia.
Some of the most toxic cleaning products on the market, according to Environmental Working Group
• Simple Green Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner—This product is anything but green. It contains 2-butoxyethanol, a solvent that soaks through the skin and damages red blood cells; even more dangerous is that some people miss the fine print and don't dilute it.
• Citra-Solv Cleaner & Degreaser—Orange may seem natural, but these sprays contain d-limonene, which can react with ozone in the air to form tiny harmful lung-penetrating particles and the known carcinogen formaldehyde.
• Clorox, Fantastik, Febreze, Formula 409, Mr. Clean, and Spic and Span— EWG says many sprays sold under these brand names contain quaternary ammonium compounds or ethanolamine, compounds that can cause or trigger asthma.
• Spic and Span Multi-Surface and Floor Cleaner—California is more strict when it comes to toxic compounds, and it's put a ban on nonylphenol ethoxylate, an ingredient in this floor cleaner that is toxic to the environment and disrupts the hormonal system.
• Mop & Glo Multi-Surface Floor Cleaner—Contains high concentrations of a substance that the United Nations says is "suspected of damaging the unborn child."
• Lysol Disinfectant Power Toilet Bowl Cleaner with Lime & Rust Remover—Sure, this will kill germs in your toilet bowl…but it could also kill you or your pet if it's swallowed. The acid in the cleaner can also cause irreversible eye damage.
• Scrubbing Bubbles Antibacterial Bathroom Cleaner & Extend-a-Clean Mega Shower Foamer—These lung-inflaming products contain 10 percent DEGBE, a solvent banned in the European Union at concentrations above 3 percent.
• Glade Air Freshener Sprays—Air fresheners and other cleaning products often contain addictive additives that can be gateway drugs. That can be fatal if you're inhaling some Glade products. EWG says Wick automatic air fresheners and old English furniture polish carry the same warning.
Avoid any kind of air freshener or deodorizer that contains synthetic fragrances. “These products do not clean or disinfect the air, but they do add hazardous chemicals to the air we breathe" Anne Steinemann, PhD, a University of Washington.
Articles on the Toxins in Chemical Cleaners and Things You Can Do To Improve the Health of Your Home
The article below is from Dr. Gideon Koren. He is a pediatrician, pharmacologist and toxicologist.
When the air is tested in parts of a house where cleaners are stored, it is measuring volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The meter won't tell you how strong or harmful the chemical particles might be. It will provide clues as to how many particles there are.
'Can always smell the cleaning products'
"You can always smell those cleaners even though they’re all tightly sealed."
Everywhere the cleaning products are kept, the readings jump. The average home normally reads about 50 parts per billion.
We asked to have tested three products that are often advertised on television: Pledge, Clorox Wipes and Lysol Disinfecting Spray.
Pledge registered 273 ppb. Anything over 500 could be a problem for people with sensitivities.
The Clorox Wipes came in at more than 1,000 ppb. The Lysol Disinfecting Spray was much higher — around 1,200 parts per million, or 1,000 times higher than the Clorox.
Young children especially vulnerable
Koren says young children are especially vulnerable, partly because of exposure. Everything goes in their mouths and they virtually live on the floor. And young kids are more sensitive because they are still developing the basic body systems: the brain, internal organs, respiratory and immune systems are not fully developed until adolescence.
Koren and his researcher are studying the babies of women who were exposed to chemical solvents in the workplace. They're finding vision problems.
"Vision is one of the functions of the human brain, so it means that these chemicals find themselves through the mum, through the umbilical cord, into the baby, into the developing brain, and damaging functions there, and the baby is born already with a problem," Koren said.
Dr. Virginia Salares specialized in indoor air quality. We asked her what's in some of the products being marketed to young families. One product we looked at — Lysol Anti-bacterial Action Spray — lists ethanol 79 per cent. Not just any ethanol, Salares, says. It's denatured ethanol.
Salares has put together a book for us, full of data sheets which lists the hazards of specific chemicals in the workplace. Here's what she discovered about denatured ethanol:
"May cause irritation of the eyes and mucous membranes, may cause central nervous system depression if inhaled or ingested."
There's also alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride — a pesticide.
The ads suggest you can spray this every day, where kids are playing. Salares says that's something parents should think about.
"Do they want to spray the air people are breathing? Or that kids with toys or surfaces that children are touching, do they want them sprayed?"
Clorox Disinfecting Wipes lists two ingredients: dimethyl benzyl ammonia chloride .145 per cent and dimethyl ethyl benzyl ammonia chloride. Again, more pesticides.
If you can't pronounce it, should you use it?
"If you find that it has ingredients, which is a chemical you can’t even pronounce, you don’t know what it is, you don’t know how it can affect you. I think it’s about time you think, should I be using this?" Salares said.
The other product we looked at was Pledge. It doesn't list any ingredients at all. But Salares has looked into it.
"It has silicones…and it has butane gas…and propane."
And in glass cleaners?
"Some of them have what are called glycol ethers. and there’s concern over these products for workers who have been exposed occupationally. They have been seeing reproductive effects. In the semi-conductor industry they are being phased out," Salares said