As a kid, I can remember dreading weekly cleaning on Sunday afternoons, even reminiscing about it, as an adult, is enough to give me chills. It wasn’t that I hated scrubbing toilets it was that I couldn’t stand the: sneezing, congestion, throbbing headaches, watery eyes and dryness in the throat that are directly linked to the harsh chemicals that are used in many conventional household cleaning products. Arguably the demographic, at greatest risk of suffering neurological and developmental disorders from chemical exposure, writes environmental advocate Deirdre Imus, are children who are just entering adolescence. Both Autism and ADD/ADHD disorders are now at epidemic levels across North America and there is an increasing body of scientific evidence to suggest that genes aren’t the sole perpetrator for their proliferation. To blame are household cleaners and similar personal care products whose ingredient list will often contain a laundry list of suspected or proven: carcinogens, neurotoxins, immutoxins, tertogens and or endocrine disrupters.
What you should avoid, is any product that claims to have or use these toxic ingredients:
Antibacterial hand-soaps, are to blame for the increase in so-called super-bugs causing a torrid of public health scares. In addition to this heinous action, one of the active ingredients within antibacterial products is called Triclosan. This culprit is responsible for the polluting our rivers and streams. Triclosan harms fish and humans alike due to its role as a carcinogen.
2.) Artificial Fragrance:
Products that claim to make you smell like the Swiss Alps or the Old Spice man, shouldn’t be trusted. If you read the fine print these products often contain phthlates and toluene, which are responsible for impairing reproductive health and causing neurological damage. Like antibacterials, products containing artificial fragrance won’t break down over time and contribute to environmental degradation.
This chemical ingredient was often added to laundry detergent in the past. Its main function is to increase cleansing action, but their benefits are far outweighed by their risks. There is a correlation between phosphates and the increase in toxic algae blooms, responsible for sucking out all available oxygen from the surface of streams and rivers in a chemical reaction called eutrophication. Presently phosphates are banned in many regions, lets keep it this way.
4.) Sodium Hydroxide: (aka lye)
Have you ever used Eazy-Off oven cleaner? Well if you have, then you will likely be able to sympathize with someone who has been through water boarding, because being exposed to lye is a torturous experience according to environmental author Kimberley Delaney. In her recent book Clean Home Green Home Delaney explains that this ingredient can negatively impact the user within two minutes after exposure, acting as: “ an extreme respiratory, skin, and eye irritant.” Prolonged exposure to Sodium Hydroxide has been shown to damage the digestive system. Don’t take the risk, use baking soda instead to scrub that oven clean. Sodium Hydroxide is also called caustic soda, white caustic, and soda lye.
5.) APEs: (alkylphenol ethoxylates)
Also known as surfactants, their function is to reduce friction within water. APEs are one member of the synthetic surfactant chemical family. Delaney states that, “they are found in laundry detergents, disinfectants, all-purpose cleaners, and hard surface cleaners.” They are suspected endocrine disrupters causing the spread of breast cancer tumors in women.
6.) Diethanolamines (DEA) and Triethanolamines (TEA)
Both are synthetic surfactants that also work to neutralize acids to make products less irritating to skin. Both DEA and TEA are found in all-purpose cleaners, hand dishwashing liquids, detergents, stain removers, and personal care products.
DEA and TEA are both carcinogenic and are to blame for allegoric reactions when exposed to the skin, eye, and or respiratory systems.
7. Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate (SLS and SLFS)
Both SLS and SLFS are additives in personal care products that are responsible for the lathering effect. They can be found in body washes, shampoos, and soaps. We need to think twice about using products, as they have been known to cause, “severe skin and eye irritation and have been linked to abnormal eye development in children” according to Delaney.
8. Butyl Cellosolve
This additive is present in all-purpose glass cleaners. It is also found in auto products, floor polish, inks, leather goods, paint thinners, pesticides and home furnishings. Butyl cellosolve is a neurotoxin that can cause brain damage thereby impacting the normal functioning of the nervous system. Additionally Butyl Cellosolve is responsible for impeding the health and vitality of the endocrine system.
To best protect your children, requires a two-pronged approach: firstly you must green your household cleaners and then lobby the parent advisory council at your kid’s school to institute a similar change.
If you, like me are tired of suffering hangovers from your household cleaning products stayed tuned for my next post when I will teach you, how to clean like your great grandparents did.