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The Harm of Everyday Chemicals

23 Jan 2021 8:05 PM | Hannah Hollingsworth

We are constantly surrounded by chemicals. In our food, our clothes, our air, our water, and our general environments. What makes this worse, however, is when we use cleaning products that contain chemicals that do nothing but add to our overall toxic load and exposure levels. In order to keep ourselves safe from constant inundation from harsh chemicals, using green cleaning products and methods are so much safer and are the better alternative. 

One of the most common chemicals found in people's homes is chlorine bleach. Although it may be an effective disinfectant, it can lead to lung and eye irritation, and be toxic when added to the waterways. Overall, bleach is not a very safe method for killing bacteria or disinfecting without the person using it also experiencing physical discomfort. A nice green cleaning alternative for disinfecting, is a safe form of hydrogen peroxide, or a natural cleaning product such as one of Seventh Generation's disinfecting cleaning products that contain thymol, a derivative of thyme, that kills up to 99.9% of bacteria. Using safer alternatives to common chemical cleaning products, such as the ones above, provide safer and healthier environments. 

Other common household chemicals that are commonly used in cleaning products are alkyl phenoxy polyethoxy ethanols. These chemicals are used in laundry detergents, all purpose cleaners, and hard surface cleaners. What makes these chemicals so awful is they are not only slow to biodegrade, but they have been proven to alter the gene expression once estrogen receptors have been activated, leading to breast cancer and a slew of other chronic health problems.

Many common cleaning products contain fragrances with phthalates, which can lead to reproductive issues, cancer, asthma and issues within our food system, and even our waterways

The chemicals mentioned above are only the tip of the chemicals-in-common-cleaning-products iceberg. There are many more chemicals that can have serious physical and even neurological effects. Some chemicals can lead to skin irritation, rashes, nerve damage, sleep disturbances and even an increased risk of cancer. Not only are these chemicals physically damaging, they can be extraordinarily damaging to the environment, leaching into our waterways, and causing potential fire hazards. 

Using green cleaning products as alternatives to common household chemicals is safer for one's home, the environment, for kids, animals, waterways, and ecosystems. These safe alternatives, such as baking soda, vinegar, essential oils, and even using cellulose sponges, can prevent health hazards, and provide a better work environment for cleaners and for the community. Using green cleaning products also creates a positive conscience, knowing that these products are eco-friendly, biodegradable, and can sometimes even be composted. 

To find green cleaning services, check out IJCSA's Green Cleaning Directory, and or visit EWG's Guide to Healthy Cleaning for lists of natural green cleaning alternatives.


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