Household disinfectants and cleaners are used by thousands of people on a daily basis. Powerful antimicrobial chemicals (also known as disinfectants) can be found in increasing amounts of products.
The question is, what health consequences does exposure to these antimicrobial chemicals found in household disinfectants and household cleaners have Exposure to these chemicals has been linked to potential health impacts from simple irritation of the skin, eyes, and respiratory systems to hormone imbalance, immune system impacts, asthma, and potential reduced fertility. The overuse of disinfectant chemicals also contributes to the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, more commonly known as superbugs.
Below is a list of common antimicrobial chemicals found in common household disinfectants to look out for:
- Chlorine bleach: Is one of the most common and frequently used sanitizers. Mixing chlorine bleach with other cleaners like ammonia can release dangerous chlorine gas. Exposure to chlorine gas can cause coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, or other symptoms. See a doctor immediately if you have these symptoms.
- Ammonia: Is a skin, eye, throat, and lung irritant and can literally “burn” through your skin.
- Triclosan and Triclocarban: These chemicals have been recently linked to hormone imbalance, and potential increased risk of breast cancer.
So what can you do to help lessen your risk to these and other chemical toxins found in household disinfectants? Look for safe, natural alternatives. For example vinegar is quite the miracle cleaner. There are an endless amount of uses for vinegar around the household. Do some research online to see the proper way to clean using vinegar.
Other natural cleaning options include borax, baking soda, essentials oils, and olive oil to name a few. There are also numerous lines of green cleaning products and household disinfectants on the market. Be sure to read the ingredients thoroughly before buying. These products are just as effective at killing germs, however there carry little no no health risks as opposed to the other chemical and toxin ridden alternatives.
More and more states are enacting laws to protect the health of American families from toxic chemicals found in toxic toy, because our federal chemical safety system broken. In the last decade, 18 states have passed more than 70 laws to ban chemicals in products or create new chemical management programs at the state level. Four states, so far, have passed comprehensive chemical policies: California, Maine, Minnesota and Washington. While Congress lags behind on TSCA reform, state chemical safety laws are working.
Identifying brands of products that contain potentially toxic chemicals has been a public priority. The two toxic chemicals that have been of much concern lately are NPEs (nonylphenol ethoxylates) and BPA (bisphenol A). Even with laws in place, companies are still getting their products passed inspection while containing these known toxic chemicals.
Although state chemical policies are a proven, effective many manufacturers reported NPEs in household paints (291 products) and BPA in plastic toxic toys (280 products). NPEs were also reported in 61 other home maintenance products (such as cleaners and wood stains) and 14 personal care products (i.e. antiseptic iodine solution and hair care products).
So, why are NPEs and BPA of high concern? Studies have shown that BPA and NPEs mimic the sex hormone estrogen. BPA harms brain development, behavior and the prostate gland, among many other adverse health effects. NPEs are highly toxic and may harm reproduction and development in humans. Children are extremely susceptible to these toxins found in toxic toys since their bodies are still developing.
Most of us are unaware that thousands of synthetic chemicals are used to create modern day fragrances for our products. Unfortunately, some common fragrance ingredients used in cleaning products pose potential health hazards and are considered toxic fragrances.
What is Fragrance?
The term “fragrance” refers to any substance, either natural or man-made, which conveys an odor or scent. Any one fragrance can be made up of potentially hundreds of different ingredients. Estimates indicate 80-90% of the raw materials used in fragrances today are synthetic creating potentially toxic fragrances.
How Are We Exposed to Fragrance?
When we use a fragranced product in our homes, we all inhale or absorb some of those toxic fragrance chemicals into our bodies. Chemicals like synthetic musks and phthalates, for example, have been detected in blood, urine and fat tissue in nearly every human tested. In addition, women are more vulnerable to the potential hormone-disrupting effects of fragrance ingredients, which can affect fertility and pregnancy. Exposures to even small levels of toxic fragrance chemicals during pregnancy may pose lifelong health impacts on our children.
- Allergens: Exposure to allergens through inhalation or absorption through the skin can cause skin and eye irritation, as well as more serious impacts.
- Synthetic Musks: Synthetic musks are manmade chemicals produced to replicate musk scents originally obtained from musk deer and musk ox. Research indicates that synthetic musks don’t break down in the environment, can accumulate in our bodies, are potential hormone disruptors and may break down the body ’s defenses against other toxic chemical exposure.
- Phthalates: Phthalates are a class of chemicals used in fragrance that do not contribute a scent, like musks or plant essences do, but rather act as solvents and carriers for those chemicals that create the scent in a fragrance. Phthalates have been shown to cause reproductive and developmental harm in laboratory animals, and are linked to similar impacts in humans.
The average fragrance product tested contained 14 secret chemicals not listed on the label. Among them are chemicals associated with hormone disruption and allergic reactions, and many substances that have not been assessed for safety in personal care products.
Also in the ranks of undisclosed ingredients are chemicals with troubling hazardous properties or with a propensity to accumulate in human tissues. These include diethyl phthalate and musk ketone.
How Can We Avoid These Toxic Fragrances?
By reducing exposure to toxic fragrances, we can lessen health impacts and lower the levels of these chemicals in our bodies. However, most information about cleaning product ingredients, and fragrance ingredients in particular, is kept secret from consumers, making it difficult to tell which products are better than others. There is currently no legal requirement for cleaning product companies to disclose their ingredients.
Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) is a national organization that strives to eliminate toxic chemicals that harm women’s health by changing consumer behaviors, corporate practices and government policies. WVE released Dirty Secrets: What’s Hiding in Your Cleaning Products?, revealing startling levels of unlabeled carcinogenic chemicals, including 1,4-dioxane in common household toxic cleaning products. Here is an excerpt from their website:
“Cleaning product companies tell you that to keep your home clean and smelling fresh, you need to rely on an army of cleaning and air care products. Sprays, wipes, powders, liquids and more are sold with the promise of improving your home and your health by removing dirt and germs. More often than not, these products are also infused with fragrance to add a pleasant sensory experience to your everyday chores and to give your home that “clean” and “fresh” smell of lemon or pine forests.
What companies are not telling you is that cleaning products can contain toxic chemicals that may harm your health. Manufacturers often recommend frequent and repeated use of their potentially toxic cleaning products, but this also translates to frequent and repeated exposures to potentially harmful chemicals. You may inhale these chemicals by breathing indoor air and some of them can be absorbed through the skin. Long-term exposures to certain chemicals found in household cleaners have been linked to serious health problems like pregnancy complications, breast cancer, birth defects, asthma and allergic reactions.
In this report, Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) commissioned an independent laboratory to test twenty popular cleaning products for hidden toxic chemicals from five top companies: Clorox, Procter & Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser, SC Johnson and Son, and Sunshine Makers (Simple Green). Products tested included all-purpose cleaners, laundry detergents, dryer sheets, air fresheners, disinfectant sprays, and furniture polish.
What WVE Found
- Some products contained reproductive toxins such as toluene and phthalates, carcinogens like 1,4-dioxane and chloroform, and a hormone disrupting synthetic musk.
- Several known allergens were also detected in these products, the highest levels of which appeared in fragranced air fresheners.
- Allergens were found in products marketed as fragrance-free.
This analysis represents a snapshot of the hidden chemicals found in popular cleaning products from five leading manufacturers. Toxic cleaning products are everywhere. The results demonstrate that consumers do not have all of the ingredient information they need to select safe cleaning products. Consumers deserve to know what chemicals they are being exposed to, so that they can easily avoid products that may cause allergic reactions or serious long-term health impacts like cancer, birth defects, or infertility.”
Source: Women’s Voices For The Earth. Toxic Cleaning Products.
Buying pre-prepared and packaged gluten free foods is is easy, but cooking a meal can be a challenging task if you do not know what gluten free substitutes are available to you. Thankfully, there are many options that can be used in gluten free cooking. The toughest part is knowing what needs to be substituted and with what so as not to change the taste too much. Gluten free foods taste just as good other foods, and many people can’t even tell the difference or even notice when they are eating gluten free food.
Some gluten free cooking substitutions for flour and other grains include:
- Brown rice flour
As you can see there are numerous gluten free cooking substitutes. There are a variety of gluten free recipes available using these and other gluten free ingredients. If you are on a gluten free diet, you don’t have to limit the things you eat. Browse recipes online and stock up on healthy, gluten free meal ideas that you and your family can enjoy.