5 Hidden Chemicals in Your Home
Our relationship to chemicals is changing as new research draws a connection between health problems and exposure to certain compounds. Your home may be more toxic than you realize because of hidden chemicals in cleaning products. Here are five common cleaning products that may be polluting your home.
Save money while giving your home a green clean using old-fashioned vinegar, baking soda, and elbow grease.
1. Toilet, Tub, and Tile Cleaners
Why: Bathroom cleaners are the number one source of pollution in the average home, particularly since they are often used in small spaces that don’t have windows. Hydrochloric acid, sulphuric acid, and lye are often combined with glycol ether and a caustic chemical known as monoethanolamine (MEA). Both have been linked to asthma and cause liver damage. Additional exposure occurs when chemical residue on tiles is released by the hot steam from showers.
Safer Option: Remove toilet bowl stains with pure vinegar. Dilute with water to remove soap residue. Washing soda or borax is also effective on tiles.
2. Antibacterial Cleaners and Soap
Why: These cleaners contain triclosan, a form of dioxin linked with weakened immune systems, decreased fertility, hormone disruption, and birth defects.
Safer Option: Good old regular soap – the more natural the better. Regular soap kills 99.4 percent of germs while antibacterial soap kills 99.6 percent.
3. Air Fresheners
Why: The main ingredient in most commercial air fresheners is formaldehyde, a known carcinogen linked to allergic reactions, dermatitis, headaches, mucous membrane irritations, joint and chest pain, depression, fatigue, dizziness, and immune dysfunction.
Safer Option: Try essential oils in the form of aromatherapy burners, or open the window and let some fresh air into the room.
4. Dishwasher Detergent
Why: Almost all other detergents have been phosphate and chlorine free for over a decade. Not dishwasher detergent, which usually still has both compounds. We know what phosphates do to our lakes and rivers. Chlorine is equally serious-the dry form used is a highly concentrated poison, known to produce skin irritations or burns, and to cause eye injuries and damage to other mucous membranes.
Safer Option: There are now more choices that ever on the market for enviro-friendly dishwashing detergents that are phosphate and chlorine free.
5. Carpet and Upholstery Shampoo
Why: The main ingredient of any rug cleaner is perchlorethylene (the same chemical used in dry cleaning). One of the most carcinogenic chemicals to humans, it can damage the liver, kidney, and nervous system.
Safer Option: Salt will take out wine or fruit stains. Club soda will remove lighter stains. Baking soda and cornstarch will deodorize you carpet. When having your carpet professionally cleaned, ask if they are using cleaning solutions that are Green Seal Certified.