While I was swimming laps today in a saline pool, two gentlemen cleaning crew members cleaned the pool tile, grout and ladders using a commercial grade cleaning product manufactured by a company headquartered right here in Atlanta GA. At first I thought they were testing the water but after several laps I finally got a focused look at what they were doing and noticed the smell just about simultaneously. The water at the end of my lane, where they just cleaned, was noticeably cloudy. I just closed my mouth and tried to turn low on the wall, below the tainted water.
When I asked, one of them showed me the product. I researched it on the internet and found the MSDS which states that this product’s main ingredient is silica. In a NIOSH Occupational Review silica has been associated with silicosis, an irreversible but preventable disease most commonly developed through occupational exposure. Some studies have linked respirable crystalline silica with risks for lung cancer and some auto-immune diseases, according to the review. NIOSH recommended further studies to understand the health risks of respirable silica dust but sets the recommended exposure limit at 0.05 milligrams per cubic meter of air. The assigned threshold limit value on the MSDS is 0.1 milligrams per cubic meter of air. I don’t think I want to be swimming around in this. What is it doing to me in small subtle doses? What kind of reaction might it have with the pool’s saline-based chemicals?
My reason for joining this particular fitness center was the saline pool as a healthier choice. I noticed a profound difference immediately between chlorine and saline. Since skin, remarkably, absorbs the chemical residues and even fumes that surround us every day, I want to train in a pool that exposes me to the least amount of harmful chemicals possible.
The same local manufacturer has a line of green cleaning products that are certified through Design for the Environment, (DfE is the EPA’s certification program for chemical risk reduction and other sustainability strategies) although the MSDS for the tile and metal cleaner doesn’t reveal any ingredients – which is a big concern for me. MSDS sheets are drawn up and submitted by the cleaning product manufacturers, not government inspectors. My advice to you is do your own research! It’s easy on the internet.
I’m looking forward to making contact with the fitness center’s management tomorrow to share what I learned and begin a dialog about an entire green cleaning regimen that can, hopefully, help all of the fitness members enjoy a healthier gym experience. Maybe they would even let us hold a lunch and learn for members to help them become aware of the hidden health risks associated with traditional house cleaning products and how they can reduce household toxins by taking a close look at all the products they buy and adopting some form of green cleaning program.