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Everyday cleaning chemicals vs. Green, Natural Products

10 Jul 2018 4:19 PM | Amy Zalkin

Having asthma and other past health-related issues has forced me to become an avid label reader. And in doing so, I began to notice over time we are exposed to serious substances abnormal to nature and it's causing negative side effects. And not only did those icky substances irritate my breathing, but I began to recognize when I was in the presence of them my reactions were the same: wheezing, coughing, etc. I didn't know what those chemicals were yet, but I was determined to find out and make sure not to purchase them ever, if possible.

BUTWho exactly are the most common offenders and where will you find these chemicals lurking? This article will outline these as well as some unresolved concerns.

Alarmingly, most of these cleaners/chemicals are the most TOXIC around. And the bulk of these are cleaners hiding in our homes in cabinets and on shelves! With corrosive drain cleaners, oven cleaners, and acidic toilet bowel cleaners, coming in at the top of the list. Followed very closely by bleach, ammonia, and lye. According to one internet article posted at www.organicconsumers.org, in 2000, US Poison Control Centers "reported fielding 206,636 calls due to toxic cleaning product exposure. And of that, 120,434 were children under 6, who can ingest or spill these products." 

Additionally, the author of this article detailed both personal/environmental long and short term effects from exposure to varying degrees of toxicity. As well as, examining the plastics many of these chemical cleaning products are contained in. Other irritants in the form of APE's, fragrances (which incidentally are not disclosed on labels due to trade-secret contracts), phosphates, surfactants, detergents, disinfectants, and other petroleum-based chemicals that linger in the soil and ground-water long afterward. In fact, "in May of 2002, the US Geological Survey tested the contaminants in stream water across the country and found that 69% contained persistent detergent metabolites and 66% contained disinfectants. www.organicconsumers.org"

Look for key words like : CAUTION, WARNING, DANGER...

Where is the advocacy? Overwhelmingly better regulation is needed to keep the public and the environment safer from these toxic, potentially deadly substances. I, we, and our environment deserve better options. Although I believe those outdated chemicals have NO place in today's cleaning regimen, most only "kill" a small percentage of pathogens, any cleaning benefit isn't worth the exposure. Natural or "green" products as they're called are the best alternative to those harmful, counter-productive chemicals. As a side note, ALL products, including green ones should be used, stored, and disposed of in the safest manner.

Coincidentally, most of these eco-friendly cleaning products can also be found in household cabinets. Items like vinegar, baking soda, lemons/juice, to name a few, which can become strong cleaners. Not just for brushing your teeth with or brightening up laundry, although those are great, I mean mold cleaning, sanitizing power! That's just the tip of the ice burg, add in a few other green products and practices and believe it or not, you've got a powerful arsenal of chemical-free-cleaning awesomeness! Always check the surface to be sure any product, green or otherwise, is safe and won't damage it. ALWAYS use best practices when using, storing, and disposing of any product.

Finally, some key things to look for when shopping for "green cleaning" products. Remember "Key words on labels like: Danger, Caution, Poison will help alert you to toxicity--if label ingredients aren't all disclosed, avoid these where possible. Also, look for biodegradable time frames, if listed, for example, breaks down in "...3-5 days." Choose plant-based rather than petroleum based. And where possible seek out the largest size/bulk and go for those with packing made of recycled materials. This helps end-user companies who specialize in those types of recycled materials. Lastly look for concentrated cleaners or those bottled with 20% or less water in them. Ideally, less added water at the factory means less container materials and lower shipping fuel costs." And REFUSE to use any/all of the above listed chemicals, since for every toxic chemical there is an alternative that works as good if not better. Now you have an idea where to find these toxic chemicals and what to look for to avoid them. But, if you'd rather trust green cleaning to the professionals, a good place to start is the business directory at the International Janitorial Cleaning Services Association located at: http://www.ijcsa.org/Find-A-Cleaning-Service-Janitorial-Service


References

Taken from internet article located at: https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/how-toxic-are-your-household-cleaning-supplies. Accessed 2018 July 11.




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