Bleach, a very common cleaning supply and one that can almost surely be found in most homes in the U.S., may be extremely harmful to your children. While most people are well aware of the dangers of ingesting bleach, or allowing it to come in contact with the eyes or skin; not everyone is aware of the potential dangers “passive exposure” to bleach may have on their children. In this article from Medical Daily, these potential dangers are discussed.
The Dangers Of Household Bleach: Kids Exposed To Cleaner May Experience Respiratory Illness, Infections
Yes, bleach can be quite dangerous if ingested by a child — but a new study published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine suggests that even just “passive exposure” to the chemical in the home is associated with a higher chance of childhood respiratory illness and other infections.
The researchers examined over 9,000 children between the ages of 6 and 12 throughout 19 schools in the Netherlands, 17 schools in Finland, and 18 schools in Barcelona, Spain. They measured their levels of exposure to bleach, then attempted to test the negative impact it had on their health. Parents were asked to complete questions about the frequency of their children’s flu, tonsilitis, sinusitis, bronchitis, otitis, and pneumonia during the past 12 months. They were also asked whether they had used bleach in some way to clean their homes once a week.
Interestingly, the authors found that nearly 72 percent of respondents from Spain used bleach frequently in their homes, while only 7 percent of Finnish households did. Spanish schools, meanwhile, were cleaned with bleach regularly while Finnish schools were not. Researchers found that the frequency of infections among children was linked to higher amounts of bleach use by parents at home — and the differences were quite evident when it came to the flu, tonsilitis, and other infections (the risk of flu was 20 percent higher in bleach households, and the risk of recurrent tonsillitis 35 percent higher in bleach households). The risk of any other infection happening again was 18 percent higher among the children exposed to bleach.
Bleach and other cleaning products might damage the lining of lung cells, causing inflammation and making it easier for infections to occur, the authors argue. Of course, it’s been known for some time that common household cleaning products aren’t meant to be inhaled or ingested; just breathing in your typical Lysol spray can make you feel dizzy or nauseous. But the study reinforces the importance of being aware of the adverse side effects of bleach and other household items.
The American Lung Association suggests sticking to soap and warm water as opposed to bleach or ammonia, as it may often do the trick just as well. For scrubbing floors or sinks, use baking soda to really get the gritty dirt out of the cracks. And vinegar mixed with water is a good glass cleaner.
“The high frequency of use of disinfecting cleaning products may be of public health concern, also when exposure occurs during childhood,” the authors write in their conclusion. They also noted that the frequent use of these products was often “caused by the erroneous belief, reinforced by advertising, that our homes should be free of microbes.”
Source: Casas L, Espinosa A, Borras-Santos A, Jacobs J, Krop E, Heederik D. “Domestic use of bleach and infections in children: a multicentre cross-sectional study.” Occupational & Environmental Medicine, 2015.
It is no secret that switching from chemical laden traditional cleaners, to more natural green cleaners at home, can help keep you and your family safer and healthier. However, how can you be sure you aren’t inadvertently inhaling toxic chemicals at your office? Recent studies have shown that cleaning substances, are among the top reasons for exposure to poison in adults. So, what are some things you can do to make sure your office isn’t a hazard to your health? This article from Green Cleaning Magazine, discusses several steps you can take to ensure a safer work environment for you and your coworkers.
10 Tips for a Clean & Green Office
Recent government reports and non-profit studies have revealed that exposure to chemicals and toxins found in common cleaning products can cause reproductive problems, lung issues, and multiple forms of cancer. In fact, a recent EPA study concluded that toxic chemicals in common cleaners are three times more likely to cause cancer than outdoor air. Additionally, in 2013, the American Association of Poison Control Centers listed cleaning substances as one of the top three most common reasons for exposure to poison in adults.
One of the most prolific places for exposure to concerning cleaning chemicals is the workplace. Are you longing for a clean and green office? Check out 10 green office cleaning tips below—offered up byOpenWorks, a leading commercial cleaning and integrated facility services company—and share them with your office’s manager. These tips can help all employers and cleaning professionals avoid dangerous cleaning products and create healthier work environments.
“Too few American workers realize the health risks they face at their office due to dangerous cleaning products and uninformed cleaning crews,” says OpenWorks founder Eric Roudi. “At OpenWorks, we are dedicated to improving all workplaces we serve by using 100% green and environmentally sound cleaning strategies, including using the safest cleaning products on the market. We are sharing these ten tips to make sure all Americans have an opportunity to execute similarly healthy and green strategies at home and at work.”
10 Tips for a Clean & Green Office
1. Quick-Fix Means Danger: Avoid air fresheners and fabric protection sprays as they contain chemicals linked to endocrine system issues, like reproductive problems.
2. Treating Carpet is a No-No: Stay away from carpet floors if you are opening a new facility. However, if you do have carpet, avoid carpet cleaners and stain-resistant treatments that expose your office to chemicals. Rely on a steam cleaner instead.
3. Beware of Old Furniture: In recent years, laws have been created to rid the furniture market of PBDE’s, which are fire retardants that break down into dangerous metabolites linked to cancer. Old furniture may be putting your office (and its workers) at risk.
4. Replace Cleaners with Clever DIY Tricks: For DIY projects, there are many standard household items that can be used to clean surfaces and handle tough odors. These include, but are not limited to, lemon, cooking oil, vinegar and baking soda.
5. Carefully Inspect Cleaning Product Labels: Even though only 7% of cleaning products adequately disclose their list of ingredients, some do reveal dangerous chemicals on the bottle. Make sure to avoid cleaning products that contain dangerous chemicals like phthalates, formaldehyde, and “chemical surfacants.”
6. Make Air Quality a High Priority: A recent EPA study concluded that toxic chemicals in household cleaners are three times more likely to cause cancer than outdoor air. Additionally, consistent exposure to other dangerous elements (like asbestos) has been linked to cancer and mesothelioma. Make sure your internal and/or external cleaning team has the resources to check HVAC/ventilation systems and control air quality.
7. Go Green with LEED-Certified Cleaners: It’s important to make sure that the cleaning crew who maintains your building is LEED certified. The US Green Building Council ensures LEED certified facility management teams are up to speed on best practices regarding green cleaning. Help the environment while keeping your staff healthy.
8. Don’t Skimp on Cleaning Technology: Commercial cleaning experts are investing considerable time, money, and resources to improve health and quality. Technological advancements, like sprayer nozzles that reduce chemical releases, are making a big difference. Invest in modernized cleaning equipment to take advantage.
9. Establish a Cleaning Policy with Employees: All of the changes you make as an employer will be compromised if your staff neglects to follow suit. Educate your employees on the damaging effects of cleaning products and create a policy that restricts and/or bans their use.
10. Hire a Proven Cleaning Company that Values Health and Open Relationships: Trust a commercial cleaning and facility maintenance company who uses only safe, environmentally sound products and understands green cleaning techniques. Make sure they work with you to understand the your specific needs.
Numbers You Need to Know: Common Cleaning Products
• Indoor air quality is a top five environmental risk to public health. *
• Toxic chemicals in household cleaners are three times more likely to cause cancer than outdoor air. *
• 30% of cleaning products contain ingredients known to cause human health or environmental problems. **
• Cleaners are the third most common reason for exposure to poison in adults. ***
• 53% of cleaning products contain lung harming ingredients. ****
• Only 7% of cleaning products adequately disclose their list of ingredients. ****
• 22% of cleaning products contain chemicals known to cause asthma in otherwise healthy people. ****
* Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
** Green Schools Initiative
*** National Capital Poison Center
**** The Environmental Working Group
While many people are aware that traditional cleaners may contain some ingredients that may be toxic or harmful, they may not know exactly what those ingredients are or how they can negatively effect humans or pets. This article from Green Cleaning Magazine, discusses one very common and potentially harmful ingredient found in many everyday products; pthalates. The article not only informs you on where phalates may be found, it also discusses the harm they may cause; while also giving tips on how you can avoid them.
Ingredient Intel: Phthalates
This is the fifth installment of our ongoing series aimed to help you better understand the ingredients—both desirable and undesirable—in your home cleaning and personal care products. We arm you with information and provide a solid assessment of each ingredient so you can make educated decisions for yourself and your family.
Ingredient: Phthalates, pronounced “tha-lates.”
What It Is: A family of synthetic chemicals primarily used to soften plastic, but also used to lubricate other substances, help lotions penetrate and soften the skin, and extend the life of fragrance.
Where It’s Found: Phthalates are a widespread contaminant in America’s buildings and waterways.
As a plasticizer, they can be found in food packaging, beverage bottles, soft toys, vinyl floor tile, vinyl seating in cars, diaper changing and yoga mats, polymer clays, furniture, water pipes, building materials, and electronics. Most products containing PVC (polyvinyl chloride or vinyl, recycling code #3) contain phthalates.
In household products they’re found in detergents, soaps, laundry supplies, and home decorating materials.
Cosmetics and personal care products contain a host of phthalates. You’ll find them in deodorants, shampoos, nail polish (where they prevent chipping), hair spray (where they prevent stiffness), perfumes, lotions, creams, and powders.
Phthalates are found in medical and dental devices, such as catheters, IV bags and tubes, and orthodontia supplies.
What’s the Problem?: Phthalates belong to a set of toxic chemicals called endocrine disruptors, meaning they attack the hormone system. They’ve been linked to breast cancer, abnormal development of the male reproductive system, insulin resistance, thyroid problems, infertility, reduced testosterone, asthma and allergies.
How Are You Exposed?: Because phthalates are not chemically bound to the products they’re added to, they’re continuously released into the air or food or liquid. Humans are exposed by ingestion, absorption, and inhalation. Children are especially vulnerable. Phthalates cross the placenta, so they can be passed from mother to infant in utero.
In 2002, the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) tested 72 name-brand cosmetics, and found phthalates in three-quarters of them. Testing humans in 2008, CDC found the highest levels in women of childbearing age, presumably because of their use of cosmetics.
How Can You Avoid Phthalates?
Look for products marketed as phthalate-free.
Check ingredient labels. It may be listed as DBP (dibutyl phthalate), DNOP (di-n-octyl phthalate), DINP (disononyl phthalate), DEP (diethyl phthalate), BBzP (benzyl butyl phthalate), DEHP (di 2-ethylhexl phthalate), DIDP (diisodecyl phthalate), DnHP (di-n-hexyl phthalate), DMP (dimethyl phthalate), and DnOP (di-n-octylphthalate).
Avoid cooking or microwaving in plastic.
Don’t give soft plastic toys to children or pets.
Choose personal care products, detergents, and cleansers that don’t have the word “fragrance” on the ingredients list. Even if the label says “fragrance free” the product may still contain phthalates.
Paints and other hobby products may contain phthalates as a solvent, so provide plenty of ventilation when using them.
Vinyl shows up in a variety of products—lawn furniture, garden hoses, even raincoats.
Switch to a non-vinyl shower curtain.
Avoid most commercial air fresheners.
Check out the database of safe household and personal care products at EWG.org, site of the Environmental Working Group.
When any parent sends their child off to school, they are doing so trusting that their child will be safe. There are a number of concerns parents have while their kids are at school. Things like….”Are they getting the best possible education?”, “Are they making friends?”, “Are they being bullied?”, etc…. The last thing a parent should have to worry about is the quality of air in their child’s school. Poor air quality can lead to a number of allergies and/or respiratory problems. The air quality in schools can be negatively affected by what type of cleaning products they use. Cleaning products with fragrances can be particularly harmful. Luckily, there may be some things you can do as a parent to help. In this article from Green Cleaning Magazine, they give 6 tips on how to help keep your child’s classroom fragrance-free.
6 Tips for a Fragrance-Free Back to School Zone
It’s back to school season when every parent puts a focus on protecting their child’s health in the classroom. One of the often-overlooked areas, however, is the presence (and prevalence) of air-contaminating fragrances.
More than 53 million children and 6 million adults in the United States spend significant amounts of time in more than 120,000 school buildings across the country. Studies have shown, however, that certain cleaning products used in the school setting, such as industrial-strength cleaning products and room deodorizers, contain chemicals identified as potential asthmagens (triggers of asthma symptoms), allergens, carcinogens, and air contaminants. In fact, about 25 percent of chemicals in school cleaning products are considered toxic—and they also contribute to poor indoor air quality. Women and girls are especially vulnerable to fragrance: with studies showing that that they are two to three times more likely to have fragrance allergies than men and boys.
The good news is that schools are becoming increasingly aware that healthy and environmentally-friendly facilities foster academic achievement and staff well-being. And, as states have begun to enact air-quality policies, many more eco-friendly products have become available for school use. To date, ten states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation to advance green cleaning in schools and more eco-friendly products have become available for school use.
1. Encourage your school to purchase janitorial supplies with green cleaning in mind. Many manufacturers and retailers use terms such as “environmentally safe,” “green,” and “non-toxic” to boost sales. Some of these claims are valid but many are not. Choose products that are rated “green” by independent third-party organizations.
2. Encourage your child’s school to ask its employees to refrain from wearing scented products (especially ones where the sole purpose is to produce a scent).
3. Ask your principal to designate classrooms and other areas as non-scented/fragrance-free zones.
Most people now realize that many traditional cleaners come with a bit of a risk do to certain chemicals they may contain. Despite this knowledge, many people continue to purchase some of these cleaners, maybe thinking that perhaps they aren’t as bad as people say. I personally try to use only natural or “green” cleaning supplies in my home, but I understand that some people prefer traditional cleaners for certain jobs. However, if you are using any of the products on this list to clean your home, you may want to reconsider.
The Environmental Working Group, or EWG, is a non-profit who focuses on public health and the environment. The EWG, put together a list of some of the most harmful cleaning products you can use in your home. Below is a few of the products on that list which you should avoid, along with a brief description of some the dangers of these products.
1. “2000 Flushes” and ” X-14″ toilet cleaners- These chlorine cleaning discs can be harmful if they come in contact with your hands or face, and can be fatal if swallowed.
2. “Glade” and “Air Wick” air fresheners- Both of these air fresheners can be extremely harmful, or even fatal, if inhaled improperly.
3. “Ajax, Fab Ultra, Dynamo” liquid laundry detergents- All of these detergents contain formaldehyde, which can cause allergies and even asthma.
4.”Tarn-X” tarnish remover- This product contains the chemical thiourea. Prolonged or repeated exposure to this chemical may cause reproductive or fetal effects.
5. “Spic And Span” surface cleaner- This multi purpose cleaner contains nonylphenol ethoxylate, which can disrupt the hormone system and is harmful to aquatic life and the environment. In fact, products which contain this chemical are not allowed to be sold in the European Union.
6. “Scrubbing Bubbles” bathroom cleaner- If you thought the little smiling cleaning bubbles were cute, think again. This product contains a high percentage of DEGBE, which can cause irritation and inflammation of the lungs.
These are just a few examples of how potentially dangerous some of these chemically-laden traditional cleaners can be.
Lysol Disinfectant Power Toilet Bowl Cleaner With Lime
When it comes to serious disease in the United States, one of the most common is type 2 diabetes. The common causes of this disease are fairly well known, dietary choices, lack of exercise, and genetics are the usual suspects. But another culprit may surprise you……pollution! According to research, some pollutants may be a contributing factor for the ever growing diabetic population. This informative article from Seventh Generation, identifies several of the culprits and ways you can avoid them.
Fat Chance: Does Pollution Cause Diabetes
We can debate many things, but the type 2 diabetes crisis isn’t one of them. It’s an epidemic, and the causes seem pretty clear: diet choices, sedentary living, and expanding waistlines are paving the way. But there may be another culprit, and it’s a doozy.
To recap, something is seriously awry. Over 8% of all Americans, some 26 million people, have diabetes, and 1.9 million new cases are diagnosed every year. In addition, roughly 79 million additional U.S. adults have prediabetes, the condition that often leads to the disease.
Those kind of numbers have public health officials clutching their worry beads. They’re so big that many are wondering if something is up besides the readings on our bathroom scales. Are other forces also tilting those scales, affecting our metabolism, and making it easier for us to get diabetes?
The answer is no – there’s no something else. There’s a whole unhealthy horde of potential “diabesogens” and we’ve heard from all of them before:
Air pollution. At least eight studies have found a connection between exposure to air pollution and insulin sensitivity or diabetes.
Phthalates. High levels of certain phthalate break-down products in the body have been linked to diabetes onset.
Bisphenol-A (BPA). A 2013 study of children found a correlation between BPA exposure and obesity, a key diabetes trigger. Another study tied BPA directly to diabetes.
High fructose corn syrup. Researchers studying diabetes in 43 countries discovered a connection between the disease and consumption of this common food ingredient.
Perfluorinated chemicals. Several of these compounds are associated with disrupted insulin production and diabetes itself.
Pesticides. Exposures to organochlorine, organophosphate, and carbamate pesticides have been linked to the metabolic issues associated with the onset of diabetes.
So far there’s no evidence that definitively declares any of these a direct cause of diabetes. We’ll need a lot more science before we break out those headlines. But the hints we’ve got today are more than enough to suggest precautionary actions like these:
Question everything. Scrutinize product labels and don’t use things whose safety is unknown or suspect. When we train ourselves to habitually examine everything we do, buy, and use from an environmental perspective, we help build a much healthier life for our families.
Pack your plate with fruits and vegetables. Some help stabilize blood sugar. Others contain phytonutrients that improve metabolism and help the body detoxify itself.
Read food labels and choose those with no-to-low sugar and no high fructose corn syrup.
Avoid key sources of phthalates like fragranced products, air fresheners, cosmetics, and vinyl.
Steer clear of perfluorinated products like stain-proofing fabric treatments and non-stick cookware.
Skip products with BPA like canned foods, dental sealants, polycarbonate plastics, cash register and ATM receipts.
Use HEPA air filters if you live in an area prone to air pollution. They’ll help keep indoor air safer to breathe.
When it comes to the effects chemicals can have on people, none are more concerning than the lasting effects they can have on children. Recently, researchers have actually expanded the list of chemicals which can be particularly dangerous for young and even unborn children. In this article from USA Today, they list some of the most harmful chemicals and also give some tips on how to keep your children from coming into contact with them. So, if you are a parent or an expectant parent, I strongly suggest giving this a read.
Researchers warn of chemical impacts on children
Two doctors sound the alarm again, as they did in 2006, about how certain common chemicals can contribute to various childhood disorders, and they expand their list of worrisome chemicals.
Everyday chemicals are damaging the brains of unborn and young children, leading to conditions like autism, ADHD, dyslexia and lost IQ points, according to two prominent doctors.
In an article published Friday in the journal Lancet Neurology, the two argue that chemicals should be better tested before being allowed on the market, and called for a global prevention strategy.
“We need to do something to protect the next generation’s brains,” said Philippe Grandjean of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
This is the second time Grandjean and Philip Landrigan, a pediatrician at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, have sounded an alarm about the behavioral and brain effects of chemical exposures during pregnancy and early childhood.
In 2006, they said that five chemicals — lead, methylmercury, arsenic, PCBs and toluene — should be considered toxic to the developing brain. The doctors did not conduct new studies on these substances, but now, based on a reading of new research, which has been exploding in recent years, they’ve added six more:
• Manganese, a natural chemical found in drinking water in places like Bangladesh.
• Fluoride, in high concentrations, which has caused problems in China, though the low levels added to American drinking water are presumed safe.
• Chlorpyrifos, an insecticide used on golf courses and in agriculture among other places.
• Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), an insecticide banned in the U.S. in the 1970s, but still used in some countries.
• Tetrachloroethylene (PERC), a solvent used in dry cleaning and metal degreasing.
• Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), also known as flame retardants and often found in furniture, electronics and clothing, including children’s pajamas.
Upsetting the careful balance of brain development can cause problems that range from a few lost IQ points to severe autism, Landrigan said.
Pregnancy, he said, “is a vulnerable time.” A pregnant woman’s body is well designed to protect the baby in case of a fall, he said, but doesn’t do much to protect against chemicals, many of which can pass through the mother into the fetus.
Low-dose exposures are not enough to make pregnant women sick, so they don’t know their fetus has received a harmful amount of the substance, Grandjean said.
The chemical industry wasn’t any more impressed with the pair’s new study than with their 2006 publication.
In a prepared statement, the American Chemistry Council, an industry trade association, dismissed Landrigan and Grandjean’s findings as “flawed” and accused the doctors of ignoring “the fundamental scientific principles of exposure and potency.”
They criticize the scientists for focusing on chemicals whose problems are well known and quite out of the ordinary. “They then extrapolate that similar conclusions should be applied to chemicals that are more widely used in consumer products without evidence to support their claims. Such assertions do nothing to advance true scientific understanding and only create confusion and alarm,” according to the statement.
Landrigan and Grandjean said they no longer consider chemicals like lead and mercury exceptions. The message of their new study, they said, is that many, many chemicals have similar damaging effects on the fetal and early childhood brain.
“We’re now concluding there is a pattern here,” Grandjean said.
The problem is that we simply don’t know the effect of more than 99% of chemicals on the market, they both said in separate phone interviews this week.
The chemical industry is extremely concerned about safety and takes adequate precautions to ensure their products are safe if used as intended, according to the American Chemistry Council statement.
Council members do agree with the scientists that the 38-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act needs to be updated. “A strong, comprehensive federal chemical assessment and risk management program enhances the safety of all Americans,” the statement read.
Suggestions for avoiding dangerous exposures during pregnancy and early childhood:
1) Eat organic food when possible during pregnancy.
2) Stay away from paint thinners, removers, pesticides and strong cleaning agents during pregnancy.
3) Get young children checked for lead exposure.
4) Ensure that sports fields are not sprayed with pesticides shortly before children use them.
When it comes to using green cleaners or conventional cleaners some people don’t seem to care either way, as long as things get cleaned. A big reason some people may feel this way is because they aren’t aware of some of the dangers that come with certain chemicals which can be found in some traditional cleaners. In this very informative article from Green Cleaning Magazine, a common chemical called Triclosan, (which is used in many different soaps, detergents, and even toothpastes) is discussed and so are some the side effects it can have. After reading this, I think I’m going to be avoiding products that contain this chemical!
Ingredient Intel: Triclosan
This is the first installment of our ongoing series aimed to help you better understand the ingredients—both desirable and undesirable—in your home cleaning and personal care products. We arm you with information and provide a solid assessment of each ingredient so you can make educated decisions for yourself and your family.
What it is: A chlorinated bisphenol in the form of a white powdered solid with a slight aromatic/phenolic odor; made from petroleum derivatives.
How it Works: Triclosan has been shown to have antibacterial and anti-fungal qualities. In use since 1972, today triclosan can be found in soap, hand soaps, dish-washing liquids, laundry detergents, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorants and antiperspirants, cosmetics, shaving creams, and even carpet padding (used to deter mold), plastic lawn furniture, and pesticides.
What’s the Problem? Triclosan has been brought under scrutiny because studies have shown that this ingredient can act as a hormone disruptor that’s been linked to reproductive and developmental harm in animal studies. In addition, it has been shown to produce carcinogenic chloroform when brought into contact with chlorine in treated tap water. Need any more convincing?
• Amazingly, bio-monitoring studies have found triclosan in the bodies of nearly 75 percent of Americans over the age of six.
• Laboratory studies have shown that triclosan is an endocrine disruptor capable of interfering with hormones critical for normal development and reproduction. Such hormonal interference has the potential to cause long-term health problems including poor sperm quality and infertility, and damage to the developing brain leading to poor learning and memory. Several studies suggest that triclosan also may contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, may exacerbate allergies, and may weaken muscle function.
• The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a lawsuit against the FDA in 2010 to push a decision on the safety and effectiveness of triclosan, something that had been left undetermined since the FDA began looking at the chemical in 1978. In December 2013, the U.S Food and Drug Administration proposed a federal rule that, if finalized, would remove the potentially hazardous chemical triclosan from consumer body washes and hand soaps. The outcome is yet to be determined. “This is a good first step toward getting unsafe triclosan off the market,” said Mae Wu, an attorney in NRDC’s health program. “FDA is finally taking concerns about triclosan seriously. Washing your hands with soap containing triclosan doesn’t make them cleaner than using regular soap and water and can carry potential health risks.”
• Triclosan’s effectiveness as a cleaning agent and antibacterial has also been brought into question. In addition, this chemical is persistent—it has been shown to linger and work for as long as 12 hours after use. This fact creates more opportunity for harm.
How Can You Avoid Triclosan? Read product labels and look for triclosan in the ingredient list along with product claims such as “antibacterial” and “odor-fighting.” You can also look for the mention of Microban or Biofreshon (both containing triclosan) on consumer goods like clothing and toys.
Everyone wants to have a nice clean home for themselves and their loved ones. Unfortunately, if you happen to have children, some of the products you may use to clean your home can be harmful to them. Our friends at Housekeeping, have come up with a list of 10 chemicals to be cautious of when cleaning around children. So, give this article a read and try to stay clear of products which contain these chemicals.
10 Chemicals to Be Cautious of When Cleaning Around Kids
Keeping your house spotless, shining and most of all, clean, with kids around can be a challenge. Somehow, a small handprint appears before you are even finished cleaning the windows. Even with gallant efforts to keep your abode sparkling, know that there can be dangers lurking if you are using products and chemicals that are harmful to your children.
Know which chemicals to avoid when cleaning areas in your home that little hands and mouths tread frequently.
The past 10 years or so have seen an explosion in the prevalence of household anti-microbial products, previously used only in clinical and industrial settings, according to Joe Walsh, founder of Green Clean Maine in Portland. As the most common consumer anti-bacterial agent, triclosan containing benzalkonium cloride may be leading to strains of bacteria that are resistant both to disinfectants and prescription antibiotics.
“Before you reach for the bottle of anti-bacterial hand soap or kitchen counter cleaner, consider plain old soap and water as an alternative,” says Walsh. “It’s often cheaper and is all you need to get the job done.”
2. Benzalkonium Chloride
Also found in many anti-bacterial products, benzalkonium chloride offers many of the same risks as triclosan. Although antibacterial products promote clean health, a growing chorus of researchers and medical professionals are raising concerns about the health effects of the widespread use of anti-microbial agents in the home, says Walsh.
“The idea is that highly disinfected household environments prevent children from developing strong immune systems early in life,” says Walsh. “Without the challenge of bacteria exposure, the immune system gets lazy and underdeveloped.”
3. Alkylphenol Ethoxylates
Chemicals that end in “-phenolethoxylate” are commonly used in surfactants, such as those found in all-purpose cleaners. “They are estrogen mimickers, which makes them particularly harmful to women and especially children,” says Walsh. “They do not break down in the environment, but persist and bioacumulate, meaning they build up in human tissue over time.”
Danger is lurking when a child is exposed to chlorine bleach. Keeping bleach around increases the risk of a child ingesting it, spilling it or touching a surface that has been cleaned with bleach. In addition to being highly toxic on its own, chlorine bleach also forms carcinogenic compounds, including chloroform, when it mixes with organic materials in the general environment, says Walsh.
Luckily, there are great alternatives to bleach that can whiten without the dangerous side-effects. Walsh suggests non-chlorine bleach, such as hydrogen peroxide, or oxygen bleaches and sodium percaronate. “The use of the detergent booster, washing soda, will also help to keep clothes bright and white without bleach,” says Walsh.
Although ammonia may make your glass surfaces shine, the harmful chemical is not advised as kid-friendly. “Ammonia can be toxic to the skin, eyes and lungs and like bleach, it’s far too easy to mix it with other things unknowingly,” says Walsh. Many household cleaners contain ammonia, but as a rule, it is in the traditional glass bottle cleaners, as well as metal and oven cleaners.
This type of chemical includes ethylene glycol, propylene glycol, butyl cellusolve and anything under the heading of petroleum distillates. According to Walsh, the acute effects of exposure are eye, skin and mucus membrane irritation. The long-term risks include nervous system damage and liver, blood, lung and kidney damage.
“Daily VOC exposure in children has been directly linked to asthma, and in mothers has been directly linked to diarrhea, earaches and even depression,” says Walsh. To avoid VOCs, look for products that contain a warning label that the product is “combustible” or “flammable.” Many products with VOCs also offer precautionary statements that the product can cause respiratory irritation or recommend using in a well-ventilated area.
While trying to keep your carpets clean, avoid products with perchlorethylene, a common agent in carpet and upholstery shampoos. This carcinogen against animals is claimed to be harmful for the liver, kidneys and nervous system, according to Kris Koenig, CEO of Natura Clean, a residential and commercial cleaning company in Middleton, Wisconsin.
According to Koenig, the effects of exposure to perchlorethylene can include dizziness, fatigue, headaches and irritation to skin, eyes, nose and throat.
Your children are frequent loungers on the couch, chairs and furniture within the home. Ensure they are not at risk while watching their favorite TV show by avoiding use of nitrobenzene, a common chemical found in furniture and floor polishes. “Small amounts can cause minor skin irritation,” says Koenig, “but regular exposure to high concentrations can reduce the blood’s ability to carry oxygen.”
Mold and mildew poses risk for your family as it is, but disinfectants with formaldehyde are just as harmful, says Koenig. Formaldehyde is used as a disinfectant in mold and mildew removers and some dishwashing liquid. Check your labels to ensure that you are not posing more risk when cleaning.
Exposure to high doses of this chemical can affect the mucous membranes, with some people developing sensitivity and triggers to asthma attacks, says Koenig.
Even though you may think you are providing a sanitary and clean environment for your children when tossing dirty laundry into the washer, there may be harmful chemicals that will pose a risk for the family’s health. Phosphates, commonly found in laundry and dishwashing detergents, are also fertilizers, which means that they can cause rapid algae growth after washed away into rivers and lakes, says Koenig. Ensure you are keeping your household healthy and the environment safe by straying from products with these chemicals.
If you’re concerned that all of your household cleaning products pose risks to your children, there are plenty of eco-friendly alternatives to keep your home sparkling clean. According to Leslie Reichert, cleaning expert and author of “The Joy of Green Cleaning,” you should only use items you could eat when cleaning around children.
“You can do a fabulous job cleaning with things like white vinegar, baking soda, salt and lemon juice,” she says. “If you feel like you have to disinfect things, you can use hydrogen peroxide (which is safe enough to use as a mouth wash) or conquer stains on sinks and counters with toothpaste. We really don’t need to use any toxic chemicals around our children.”
This past 4th of July, I, like many people, spent nearly the entire day outdoors. We barbecued, played games, and enjoyed a few fireworks (and a few cold ones). Unfortunately, my friends and I weren’t the only ones out for a good time and a good meal, the mosquitoes were having a feast of their own…..on us! The only defense was to spray ourselves down with bug repellent. The smell and sticky feeling you got from the spray was almost as bad as the bug bites. Not to mention, most traditional bug sprays contain DEET, a chemical found in insect repellents that can cause skin irritation, disorientation, and dizziness with overuse. So, how can you keep the bugs away without having to use traditional bug sprays? This article from Project:Greenify, gives you a few tips on how to keep those pesky bugs away.
As summer rolls around, unfortunately so do the mosquitoes. Mosquito bites are not only annoying and cause intense itching but they can also cause diseases like West Nile. With so many bug spray options available, it’s hard to know which ones actually work AND are safe to use. Rather than using harmful spray options, try these natural and green mosquito repellents.
Get rid of standing water. Standing water in your yard is a major breeding ground for mosquitoes. Buckets, clogged gutters, children’s outdoor toys…anything that can hold standing water is a target so be sure to dump out all collected water.
Use a fan. Believe it or not, the wind created from a fan acts as a repellent and keeps away weak flying mosquitoes.
Attract natural mosquito predators. Bats and birds eat mosquitoes as a part of their diets. Hang up nesters, bird feeders, etc. and use those animals to help as a repellent to your mosquito problems.
If you have a pond or lawn ornament in your backyard that features standing water, these can be major breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Change the water in birdbaths once a week and keep the water in ponds and pools moving. If that isn’t an option, you can use B.t.i. (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis), which is an eco-friendly product that will kill any mosquito larvae that hatch without harming birds, fish, pets or children (from the melindamyers.com website).
Use a green repellent. There are many varieties of green repellants that are DEET free and they can usually be found online or in health food stores. Before you buy, make sure the bottle says the following: herbal, all-natural, DEET-free, non-chemical, non-toxic and hypoallergenic. Here are a few: California Baby Bug Repellent Spray, Bite Blocker and Buzz Away
Make your own green insect repellent. Using a variety of essential oils such as lemon balm (citronella), lavender and rose geranium can do just the trick to keep mosquitoes at bay. Click here for some homemade insect repellent recipes.
Eat your repellent. According to TheDailyGreen.com, drinking 1-2 tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar and eating lots of garlic can help repel mosquitoes. Also, vitamin B1 is supposed to help repel insects.