Article by, Kavita Shah
Commercial household cleaning products may leave your home sparkling clean and smelling wonderful, but have you ever wondered what sort of chemicals are in these products and how they may be affecting your health and the environment?
To start with, most cleaning products will have warning signs such as “Poison”, “Danger”, “Caution”, or “Corrosive” written on them, isn’t that enough to inform us that these products contain dangerous chemicals which are harmful to our health and environment? So why do we still chose to use them? Most consumers are unaware of what these dangerous chemicals are and the hidden dangers they present to our health and environment.
Water is life, and without water there would be no life on our planet, our whole ecosystem relies on clean water! Did you know that the water that goes down your toilet or drain is the same water that comes back through your tap as drinking water? Well, not straight away, but when wastewater such as flushed toilet, sink, shower, washing machine or dishwasher water leaves your home, it flows through a sewer system to a wastewater treatment facility. Here it goes through a series of processes to reduce or remove pollutants, after which it is released into local waterways where it is used again for purposes such as supplying drinking water and irrigating crops. Wastewater treatment facilities are designed to treat organic materials, not hazardous chemicals which are found in cleaning products, which could then make their way back into rivers, lakes and oceans, affecting our whole ecosystem.
Some of the most common offenders found in cleaning products and their associated health risks include:
- Ammonia: powerful irritant, may affect people with asthma and breathing problems
- Sodium hydroxide: extremely corrosive, can cause severe burns, inhalation can cause breathing problems
- Sodium lauryl (or laureth) sulfate (SLS): skin irritant
- Formaldehyde: respiratory irritant and suspected carcinogen (cancer causing substance)
- Fragrance: made up of several different synthetic compounds, most of which are toxic or carcinogenic
- Parabens: usually have methyl-, ethyl-, butyl-, or propyl in front of them (e.g. methylparaben), they are hormone disruptors, possible carcinogens, skin irritants
- Ethylene glycol: a neurotoxin and reproductive toxin which may also cause kidney and liver damage
- Benzene, toluene and xylene: neurotoxin, reproductive toxin
There are several natural and simple ingredients that can take care of most household cleaning needs. Baking soda, citric acid, vinegar or lemon and a coarse sponge with a little touch of elbow grease are great for removing limescale and grime. Adding a few drops of pure essential oil such as lavender rose or lemongrass will leave a fresh natural scent in your home. Some essential oils such as tea tree, eucalyptus, peppermint, citronella and cinnamon have antibacterial and antifungal properties making them great surface cleaners. And who would have thought that Coca cola makes an excellent bleach, so rather than damaging your health by drinking it, why not pour it down the drain?
Many natural eco- friendly brands of household cleaning products which don’t impact our health and environment are now available from good independent health food shops. Some of these brands include Ecover, Bio D, Dr Bronner and Attitude. These brands use natural, safe and biodegradable ingredients such as minerals (sand, zeolite and silicate), essential oils and plant based oils like coconut, palm, olive and jojoba. They also use renewable sourcing for raw materials and bottles which are made from recycled materials and are themselves recyclable. So don’t you think it’s time to save our planet and clear out your cupboards of harsh commercial household cleaning products and switch to more natural eco- friendly ones?
This article was first published in August 2014 edition of FreeSpeech Magazine. To check out the full edition, click here.