Green Cleaning & Chemicals
It's possible to be tested for the presence of toxic chemicals in your body, as the generational trends of these tests can be revealing. The experience of environmental health activist Laura Turner Seydel is proof. She, her father, and her son all underwent the Environmental Working Group's toxic body burden test, which screened for the presence of about 80 chemicals in their bodies.
"There was a clear distinction between the toxic chemical levels in the three generations," Seydel said. "My father showed hardly any traces. I showed some and my son showed a lot of exposures to toxins such as flame retardants, Teflon, mercury, lead, plasticizers, phthalates, even rocket fuel."
It is important now more than ever to use green cleaning products that do not contain harmful chemicals. Protecting your family, pets, and home by using green cleaning practices has become an essential part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
The following chemicals are commonly found in our everyday lives:
- Endocrine disruptors mimic human hormones, confusing the body with false signals. Think of them as hormone disruptors. Exposure to endocrine disruptors can lead to humorous health concerns including reproductive, developmental, growth and behavior problems. Endocrine disruptors have been linked to reduced fertility, premature puberty, miscarriage, menstrual problems, challenged immune systems, abnormal prostate size, ADHD, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and certain cancers.
- Neurotoxins alter neurons, affecting brain activity, causing a range of problems including headaches, dizziness, disorientation, memory loss, and even loss of intellect.
- Carcinogens cause cancer and/or promote cancers' growth.
Countless chemical ingredients in daily life may be harmful to our health - too numerous to outline here. Consumers should know of some general categories of chemicals that should be avoided, however. The following list is not all-inclusive:
- Pesticides: One of the most counter-intuitive health threats is that of products that disinfect. Common sense tells us that killing household germs protects our health. However disinfectants are pesticides and the ingredients in pesticides that are designed to kill bugs and microorganisms often include carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. Pesticides are fat-soluble, making them difficult to eliminate from the body. Pesticides, including disinfectants, may also include alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs).
- APEs: APEs act as surfactants, lowering the surface tension of liquids and helping cleaning solutions spread more easily over the surface and penetrate solids. APEs are found in detergents, disinfectants, all-purpose cleaners and laundry cleansers. They are also found in many self-care items including spermicides, sanitary towels and disposable diapers. APEs are endocrine disruptors.
- Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is a preservative. Many people do not know that it is also a germicide, bactericide and fungicide. It is often found in cleaners, disinfectants, nail polish and other personal care products. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen.
- Phthalates: Phthalates are most commonly used in the manufacture of plastics. Phthalates are also used as carriers for perfumes and air fresheners and as skin penetration enhancers for products such as moisturizers. Classified as inert, they are not required to be listed on product labels. They are endocrine disruptors and suspected carcinogens. Phthalates are known to cause hormonal abnormalities, thyroid disorders, birth defects and reproductive problems.
- Organochlorines: Organochlorines result from the combination of hydrogen and carbon. Some types are highly deadly, such as DDT. OCs are bio-accumulative (difficult to purge thus build up in your body) and highly persistent in the environment. OCs are present in pesticides, detergents, de-greasers and bleaches. OCs are also present in dry-cleaning fluids. OCs are carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.
- VOCs: Volatile Organic Compounds are emitted as gases suspending themselves in the air. VOCs include an array of chemicals, some of which have short- and long-term adverse health effects, and are present in perfumes, air fresheners, disinfectants and deodorizers. VOCs commonly include propane, butane, ethanol, phthalates, and/or formaldehyde. These compounds pose a variety of human health hazards and are collectively thought to be reproductive toxins, neurotoxins, liver toxins, and carcinogens.
Common household products that can contain harmful chemicals include, but are not limited to:
- Furniture Polish
- Air Freshener
- Dishwashing Detergent
- Oven Cleaner
- Floor Cleaner
- Glass Cleaners
- Bug Repellents
- Fabric Softener
Start using green cleaning products to reduce your risk of inhaling or absorbing chemicals that could be harmful to your health. Green cleaning will ensure that you've done your duty to help clean up your home as well as the environment in a safe, eco-friendly way.