How Dangerous Are Household Cleaners?

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Did you know that toxic chemicals in household cleaners are three times more likely to cause cancer than air pollution? Did you know that more than 7 million accidental poisonings occur each year, with more than 75% involving children under age 6? Did you know that women who work at home have a 54% higher death rate from cancer than those who work away from home? The 15-year study concluded it was a direct result of higher exposure rate to toxic chemicals in common household products.

Household toxins don’t just affect us; they also harm every living thing on earth. During the manufacturing process, toxins get disposed of in the environment in the form of air and water pollution, as well as toxic waste. These toxins are not only polluting our air and water, but killing fish, animals and plant life.

The average household contains anywhere from 3-25 gallons of toxic materials, most of which are in cleaners. No law requires manufacturers of cleaning products to list ingredients on their labels or to test their products for safety. Many household cleaners contain chlorine, though it often masquerades behind aliases such as “sodium hypochlorite” or “hypochlorite.” Breathing in the fumes of cleaners containing a high concentration of chlorine can irritate the lungs. This is particularly dangerous for people suffering from heart conditions or chronic respiratory problems such as asthma or emphysema. And the risks are compounded when the cleaners are used in small, poorly ventilated rooms, such as the bathroom.

Using detergents that contain chlorine in the dishwasher or clothes washer can pollute the air in your home. This occurs because the water in the machines contains chlorine from the detergents. As the water goes through the various cycles of the machines, the detergent goes through a process called “volatilization.” We then breathe the contaminated air and absorb the chemicals through our bodies. If you reside in a city which treats the water with chlorine, you’re getting a double dose of these harmful fumes.

Chlorine is also used to bleach paper products – napkins, paper towels, toilet paper, coffee filters, etc. The EPA says that using bleached coffee filters alone can result in a lifetime exposure to dioxin that “exceeds acceptable levels”.

The health danger associated with the use of toxic products is not just the initial exposure, but also the cumulative effects of continuous exposures, which weakens our immune systems. Indoor air pollution is a huge health issue. According to the EPA, this year some 11,420 people will die from indoor air pollution. Millions more will be sickened by their exposure to a host of toxic chemicals within their homes and offices.

So, what are we to do about all of this toxic exposure? Fortunately, we have a variety of options. You can choose to make your own household cleansers using items such as baking soda or white vinegar. Cheap and effective! You can purchase non-toxic products available at health food stores or many of the larger grocery stores. If you can’t find them there, you can order them online. Use unbleached paper products whenever possible. Begin to educate yourself about the dangers of household products either by searching online (www.google.com is my favorite search engine & will provide hundreds of resources using the keywords “toxic chemicals+household products), or visit your local library and pick up some books.

We live in a society which exposes us to toxic chemicals daily and we are led to believe that if a product sits on a shelf at the store, then it must be safe. This is wrong, wrong, wrong. Don’t become a victim or a statistic. These chemicals kill. They destroy our immune system, cause cancer, exacerbate asthma & lung disease, and pollute the air and our environment.

Instead of spending money on these highly promoted killers, save your money and your health and make your own products or buy non-toxic, natural cleaners. You’ll feel better, breathe better and live longer and you’ll be making a difference for Mother Earth.

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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

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