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The harmful effects of using everyday cleaning chemicals compared to using natural green products

02 Apr 2024 4:40 PM | Lori Weber
There are so many harmful effects of using everyday cleaning chemicals in comparison to more natural green products.  Everyday cleaning chemicals not only have a negative effect on the environment due to the single-use plastic packaging and toxins emitted during the manufacturing process, but also on human and wildlife health from toxic fumes being inhaled or chemicals flushed down a drain.

As per the article included in IJCSA's Green Cleaning Certification, toxic cleaning chemicals include many solvents and petroleum-based chemicals that can cause health effects like reduced concentration, coordination, memory, and sleep disturbances. These are just a few of the issues that everyday cleaning chemicals can cause to a person's health.  Another health hazard to keep in mind involves children and pets. Small children and pets are at risk for accidentally ingesting cleaning chemicals if they're spilled or found in a person's cleaning cabinet. The result of something like this happening is dire, immediate medical attention is required and can still be fatal even if urgent medical care was obtained. Using things like lemon juice (citric acid), or vinegar, or baking soda is so much safer, because even if they're accidentally ingested in some way, you should still seek medical attention but it's likely going to cause an upset stomach, vomiting or diarrhea. I'd take that over the alternative.

The effects that some of these everyday cleaning chemicals have on the environment may not be as well-known as the hazards to health are, but the impact is just as great.  Laundry soaps, just for one example, contain surfactants like LAS, that do slowly biodegrade, but while being manufactured, release carcinogens and reproductive toxins like benzene into the environment. Everyday cleaning chemicals like window cleaners that contain ammonia, release nitrogen into the environment, and in areas that cannot handle the excess ammonia, can disrupt the ecosystem and cause toxic effects to fish, plants, and animals. This information was found in the article provided as study material for IJSCA's Green Cleaning Certification.

IJSCA Green Cleaning Certified Members know that using single-use plastic used for packaging everyday cleaning chemicals adds to the amount of waste in landfills that may take hundreds of years to biodegrade, and release toxins as they degrade as well. To combat that, we use things like glass bottles to contain our more natural and ecofriendly cleaners, and use microfiber cloths instead of disposable paper towels.

 I've read an astounding number of comments on cleaning videos and posts on various social media platforms about using more natural cleaners that are safer for human health and the environment that say things like "it isn't clean unless it's been cleaned with bleach".  This is a wild concept to me, because people are essentially condoning the use of a cleaning chemical whose fumes are known to cause eye and throat irritation as well as respiratory damage to the people that use them. Additionally, in an article written by Environmental Impacts of Bleach and Greener Alternatives - Action for Renewables, it states that in dumping/washing bleach down a drain, the chlorine and other toxic ingredients included in it can contaminate nearby water bodies that make them unsafe to drink from or bathe in, and increase the acidity of these water bodies, which can destroy habitats and ecosystems. 

Entrusting your home or facility members and the protection of our environment to the Green Cleaning Certified Members of IJSCA is a great eco-friendly decision that a person can be proud to make. You can search the directory here International Janitorial Cleaning Services Association - Green Cleaning Services (ijcsa.org)

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