It seems like everything in my life has been bringing me to this point lately. The dangers of household cleaners seems to be in my face so much that I can no longer ignore it. In my science class I've been learning about how we contaminate our ground water, in my business class I've been learning about building a sustainable business by being ethical and concerned for our environment, and the more I learn about health and fitness the more I want to make sure I’m doing everything I can to take care of my body both inside and out. My family’s health is very important to me, and taking care of our environment is becoming more important to me as well.
Over the past week, I have been learning more about what types of products I use in my own home, and how specific chemicals can affect my family. I want to share a little of what I've learned with you today, and share a solution that I have found that is both safe and affordable.
So here’s the basic low-down for you: Our bodies and the environment soak up what we put in and on them. So if you are pouring your soapy water from mopping on the ground in your backyard, you may want to think twice. I have always done this, among other things (like flushing old medications down the toilet) that I will no longer be doing. I had no idea the impact my actions were having on not only my family but our groundwater.
So what types of chemicals are commonly found in our household cleaners and what do they do? Take a look at this list of just five toxic chemicals you will want to avoid:
Phthalates: This chemical can upset the reproductive system causing problems during pregnancy and significant problems in men. You won’t find this chemical on the labels of your household cleaners or health and beauty products because it can legally be listed as “fragrance”. You could expect to find this chemical in household air fresheners, and dish soap. Phthalates cause the most damage after being inhaled (scary thought with air fresheners), but can also be absorbed into the skin.
Triclosan: This chemical is one of the most commonly used in anti-bacterial products found around your home. Studies have linked Triclosan to skin irritations and antibiotic resistance (in turn making you more susceptible to sickness). Triclosan is also being studied for its impact on our hormonal system and thyroid issues. As with the other chemicals in this post this chemical in particular is linked to some serious environmental contamination. So where would you find this chemical? I’m glad you asked, but sad to report that it can be found in deodorant, toothpaste, make-up, and of course anti-bacterial soaps.
Formaldehyde: In 1987, the Environmental Protection Agency classified the chemical as a probable carcinogen after unusually high or prolonged exposure, and studies have linked this chemical to leukemia. While this post isn’t meant to scare you, come on! How can you not be concerned about that? With two daughters I am constantly painting nails and removing nail polish only to learn that these products contain some of the highest amounts of Formaldehyde on the market! This seems to be one of the most commonly used chemicals in both household cleaners and health and beauty products like soap, shampoo, body wash, and bubble bath. Of course you won’t find it listed under formaldehyde, so do your research and learn how to read your labels.
Ammonia: Now, I will admit I knew about this one. I know the smell well, and know which of my cleaners has ammonia in it, but I guess I never really thought twice about it. It does the job, and initially that was all I really cared about when it came to cleaning my home. The most common issues caused by ammonia are asthma and damage to the lungs. Considering it’s hard not to breathe in glass cleaner while cleaning your mirrors and windows, this is quite alarming! It’s also a concern for me because two of the people in my household already have issues with their lungs, and asthma. While ammonia may be great for streak-free cleaning, I know there has to be a better way!
Nonylphenol ethoxylates: Never heard of this one? Don’t feel bad, neither had I. After having a recent breast cancer scare, this is one chemical that I am no longer interested in purchasing. Yet, I use this chemical every single day, and it has been seeping into my skin and the ground for years. You can find it in your laundry detergents among other places, and it is directly linked to… you guessed it, breast cancer. It can do more damage than that, but coming from a family where breast cancer is a part of our family tree, that’s really all I need to know.
So, what can we do? I know what you may be thinking, because I have had similar thoughts. When I see a post on the dangers of household cleaners or toxins in my home, I immediately brush it off. “Oh, sure, they link everything to caner now” or “Honestly I would love to use better products but I can’t afford it, and everything seems fine in my home.” While these things may be true, it is clear that when tested on animals these products are dangerous, and while I would love to believe that the government has our backs, at the end of the day money needs to be made, so until someone can prove without a doubt that these chemicals are extremely dangerous, they will continue to allow them to enter our homes. Let’s face it, even with hard evidence showing the diseases these chemicals cause in animals, there will always be someone with a variable that we can’t discount, which will have to lead to more testing. So why not take matters into your own hands? That’s exactly what I plan to do!
In my next post I will give you some ideas for making your home a safer and less toxic place to live! Check back soon.