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– Sidney J. Harris
Household Cleaners... know the risks & make better choices
by David Hughes
According to a five-year EPA study, the air in an average American home has chemical contamination levels three to five times greater than outdoor air. The EPA maintains that half of all illnesses occurring in the United States can be attributed to chemical contamination of indoor air. In fact, a 1985 EPA report states that household cleaners are three times more likely to cause cancer than outdoor air pollution.
After analyzing 2,983 chemicals used in personal care products 884 were found to be toxic.
According to the National Safety Council, more children under the age of four die of accidental poisonings at home than are accidentally killed with guns at home.
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National Cancer Association released results of a 15 year study concluding that women who work in the home are at a 54% higher risk of developing cancer than women who work outside the home.
Of chemicals commonly found in homes, 150 have been linked to allergies, birth defects, cancer, and psychological abnormalities.
According to the American Cancer Society, there has been a 26% increase in cancer over the past two decades.
Here are just a few of the dangers that may exist in your home:
Air Fresheners interfere with your ability to smell by releasing nerve-deadening agents or coating nasal passages with a film, usually methoxychlor, a pesticide that accumulates in fat cells. Known toxic chemicals found in an air freshener are formaldehyde, a highly toxic, known carcinogen, and phenol. When phenol touches your skin, it can cause it to swell, burn, peel, and break out in hives.
Ammonia is a very volatile chemical frequently found in cleaning products and is very damaging to your eyes, respiratory tract and skin. Cleaning products like ammonia have serious health consequences.
Antibacterial Cleaners may contain triclosan, which is absorbed through the skin and can be tied to liver damage.
Chlorine: The first agent of chemical warfare was chlorine. WWII ended with an abundance of this cheap chemical. In the name of huge profits, it was added to our water supply and many other products.
Chlorine is the number one cause of breast cancer and can be lethal. Scientists won't handle chlorine without protective gloves, face masks, and ventilation - yet it is in most cleaning product store-brand cleaners, including dishwasher detergents. The harmful effects are intensified when the fumes are heated, as in the shower. It is in our drinking water, swimming pools, Jacuzzis and more.
Laundry Room Products: detergents contain phosphorus, enzymes, ammonia, naphthalene, phenol, sodium nitilotriacetate and countless other chemicals. These chemicals are linked to allergies, sinus problems, rashes and itches. The residue left on the clothes and linen is absorbed through your skin. The scent of the laundry detergent, for example, d-limonene, can irritate the skin and eyes, produce breathing difficulties and bronchial irritation. The phthalates that are used to make the fragrance last may disrupt hormones and cause birth defects.
Fabric softeners contain ammonia, petroleum distillates and strong artificial fragrances. They may also contain chloroform, benzyl acetate and pentane; chemicals which are known to cause cancer and/or damage the brain, nerves and lungs. The heating of the dryer makes them even more dangerous.
Dishwashing Detergents often contain chlorine in a highly concentrated dry form and is the number one cause of child poisonings. Dishwashing detergents usually contain a central nervous depressant called naphtha and a possible liver poison called diethanolsamime. Our dishes are the most frequently cleaned objects in our homes and the residues from toxic dishwashing detergents accumulates on the dishes and is picked up by our food.
Does The Government Restrict What Chemicals Are Used In Cleaning Products?
There is a very small list of chemicals, less than 100, which the federal government has banned because they have been determined to be too toxic to use. If you look you will notice that often you will not see a list of ingredients and even if they do it will be very generic on most cleaning labels. Companies are not required to list ingredients on their products. Not even hazardous ingredients have to be listed. Which means you as a consumer can not make an educated choice about what ingredients you are willing to expose your family to.
There are over 75,000 chemicals listed by the Environmental Protection Agency. Fewer than 1,000 of these chemicals have been tested for immediate acute effects, and only about 500 have been tested for their ability to cause long- term chronic health problems such as cancer, birth defects, and genetic changes. That means that next to nothing is known about the toxic effects to humans of nearly 80% of the chemicals we use.
Our Children Are Most Affected
Children are uniquely vulnerable to household toxins because of their higher metabolic rate. They require more oxygen, and they breathe in two to three times as much air, relative to body size, than adults. Additionally, children are more physically active, also increasing their breathing rate. Finally, children live closer to the ground, where the highest concentrations of many air pollutants settle. They play in the dirt and on carpets where they are exposed to contaminants that attach to dust particles. In a 1998 study to investigate a possible association between cancer risks and pesticides in house dust, the National Cancer Institute found residues of 31 chemicals in carpet dust samples from 15 Washington, DC area homes. The NCI found seven organochlorine pesticides, including DDT, Methoxychlor, heptachlor, and chlordane, three highly toxic carbamates, five types of PCBs and other potentially toxic chemicals.
Children exposed in the womb are at the greatest risk of all. Because cellular structures change so rapidly during embryonic and fetal growth, a toxic exposure at the wrong moment can permanently alter further development. According to Dr. Landrigan, the central nervous system is especially vulnerable. To function properly, the developing brain must lay down an intricate web of interconnecting neurons. Small doses of neurotoxins during critical periods of brain development can alter those crucial neural pathways – one mistake early on, and the brain may be forever changed in subtle or serious ways. Government and university scientists are currently investigating the possibility of a connection between fetal exposures to toxics and developmental disabilities such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Effects on the Environment
Many household cleaning products, such as furniture polish, oven cleaners, drain cleaners, and even air fresheners, are considered hazardous waste. Hazardous waste is garbage that contains chemicals that have been identified as toxic to fish, wildlife, plants, and often also to humans. You cannot responsibly throw these cleaners into the trash. If you do they will go into the landfill and there the toxins can leak into our groundwater, or they may pollute local streams and harm wildlife.
Why We Believe In Using Cleaners that contain Biobased Essential Oil derivatives
Essential oils are extracted from certain varieties of trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, and flowers. The oil is concentrated in certain parts of the plant. Geranium oil comes from the leaves and stalks of the plant, while myrrh and frankincense is extracted from the resin of their respective trees.
The oil is extracted from the plant by a variety of means, depending again on the particular species. The most common method is steam distillation. It takes a great deal of work to produce a tiny amount of essential oil. Sixty thousand rose blossoms are required to produce one ounce of rose oil, whereas the sandalwood tree must be 30 years old and 30 feet high before it is cut down for distillation.
Essential oils enter and leave the body with great efficiency, leaving no toxins behind. They are very complex in their molecular structure, and very powerful. The essential oil of oregano, for example, is twenty-six times more powerful as an antiseptic than phenol, which is a manufactured toxic chemical used in many commercial cleansing materials. Many essential oils have antibacterial, antiviral and healing properties.
Essential oils have been used for thousands of years. They come from nature and each offer an important benefit. Some are antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, sedative and stimulating, and much more. Modern-day research has confirmed centuries of practical use of the oils. We believe that using something from nature is better than using a manufactured synthetic toxic chemical. Besides the natural properties of the essential oils we use they smell good and we know they are safe to use in our homes.
David Hughes, of Essex Jct. is a regional sales consultant with Foley Distributing specializing in green cleaning programs for private & public marketplace. David can be contacted at email@example.com
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