Every day we are exposed to hundreds of environmental toxins. Typically, the air inside our homes is more toxic than the air outside. It’s estimated that indoor air pollutants may be 2 to 5 times higher than out of doors, and in some homes are as much as 100 times higher! What’s more, 90% of all poisonings are a result of household toxins.
One of the problems is the collection of cleaners under the average sink. Many cleaners give off volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which have been implicated in everything from asthma and other respiratory problems to cancer. Children are at greatest risk, since they’re both smaller than adults and are still growing.
Household cleaners, detergents, degreasers, stain removers, garden pesticides, paints, batteries, detergents, even flea powders can all be hazardous to our health and the environment.
If these hazardous products in the home are ingested, absorbed through the skin or inhaled they can cause illness that may only appear years later. Hazardous chemicals also endanger the environment by contaminating our groundwater, lakes and oceans.
Many of us tend to think anything sold in a supermarket must be safe, but often labels do not contain complete and accurate information. Many common household cleaning products are actually classified as hazardous waste! Often, chemicals which are initially believed to be safe are later proven to be harmful to our health.
Many chemicals commonly found in homes have been linked to allergies, birth defects, cancer, psychological abnormalities, skin reactions, headaches, depression, joint pain, chronic fatigue, chest pains, dizziness, loss of sleep, asthma. Housewives have a 55% higher risk of getting cancer than do women working outside the home. This most likely has to do with the products they use on a daily basis. Nervous disorders and respiratory problems have also been linked to hazardous substances in the home.
Furthermore, medical research is mounting a huge collection of evidence showing that our environment, and the toxins we are all exposed to, increases the likelihood of breast cancer and cancer in general. Studies show that hormone (endocrine) disrupting chemicals can act together and that small, seemingly insignificant quantities of individual chemicals can have major cumulative effects on the body. To read more about how every day toxins threaten women’s health click here.
Many of the chemicals found in our homes are used to make our lives easier, but often we don’t realize the consequences of using many of these substances, both to our health and the environment. Be wary and read labels. Whenever possible, use alternative non-toxic products that will benefit both our health and the environment and use only natural substances to clean our homes and pour down our sinks.
Here is a summary of some of the top three worst chemicals in common household cleaners and what you can use instead.
Ammonia is often found in all-purpose household cleaners. It’s a very effective degreaser and glass cleaner.
Unfortunately, its fumes are also highly irritating. Ammonia can cause severe eye irritation, headaches and lung damage. It’s also extremely poisonous to fish and other aquatic life, even in dilute amounts. That means that any ammonia you put down the drain is poisoning the water around you.
Ammonia poses an even greater danger when combined with other household chemicals. Combining ammonia and bleach, for example, creates ammonia gas, which can be fatal if breathed in.
The best substitute for ammonia as a window cleaner is vinegar and water. As a degreaser, washing soda is a terrific less-toxic substitute that will even strip floor wax.
Chloride bleach is very strongly corrosive. Its fumes alone can irritate or burn skin, eyes and lungs. If it’s swallowed, it can cause vomiting or pulmonary edema–the filling of the lungs with fluid. Needless to say, don’t store bleach near ammonia. Not only that, don’t mix bleach with vinegar. It can trigger the release of toxic gas.
Bleach is found all on its own, and in caustic drain cleaners. That’s why you should NEVER use anything else in conjunction with a drain cleaner, or mix drain cleaners. If you use a drain cleaner, don’t follow up with a different one for at least 24 hours.
Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that can also trigger asthma attacks, headaches, and skin and eye irritation.
In the home, formaldehyde is found as a preservative in air fresheners, spray starch, shampoos, deodorants and many other products including new carpets. Often, it’s not actually listed as an ingredient, it may be part of another ingredient or can even contaminate another ingredient, like the sodium laureth sulfate commonly used in shampoos.
The best advice for avoiding formaldehyde is thouroughly check lables, and even contact the manufacturer if in double. There are plenty of safer alternatives, such as using essential oil diffusers instead of air fresheners, non-SLS shampoos or natural deodorants.
The good news is that making your own cleaning products is cost effective and easy. It’s also good for you and good for the environment. The table below summarises the ingredient list for making your own cleaning products.
This is my favourite All Purpose Cleaner
1 cup Water
1 cup Vinegar
2 tsp Liquid Castille Soap
15 drops Essential Oil of choice, i.e. OnGuard, Lemon, Melaleuca, Eucalyptus etc.
Add all ingredients into a glass spray bottle. Soap will clump a little between uses. Shake well before spraying.
For a comprehensive list of DIY cleaning recipes click here.
For a summary of how you can use these natural ingredients to make your own cleaning products, you can watch this video on ‘Oils around the House – Cleaning‘
Here is a list of Living Smart Recipes for DIY cleaning products.
In one of our next blogs, we’ll look at making your own personal care products. Click here for a recipe to make your own natural body wash.
If you would like to find out more about the benefits of using Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade essential oils the visit: http://www.greenlifeorganics.com.au/blog/education/cptg/.
If you live in Perth and would like a Healthy Home Makeover then call us on 040798479 or click here for more details.
Health & Happiness!
Karyn Siegel-Maier, The Naturally Clean Home: 150 Super Easy Herbal Formulas for Green Cleaning
Peter Dingle, Is Your Home Making You Sick?
Bill Statham, The Chemical Maze Shopping Companion