The Hidden Toxic Dangers of Household Items

By: | Tags: , , | Comments: 0 | August 14th, 2018

The Hidden Toxic Dangers of Household Items

Cleanliness is a good thing, and likewise, so is smelling nice. In fact, keeping your home and family hygienic is key to good health, and nice smelling fragrances, scented candles, antibacterial cleaners, and foamy lathering soaps may be just a few of the household items you use to keep things this way.

However, did you know that some of the very items which you use to clean and freshen with may be doing more damage to your health than good? Or that it goes beyond you and your family, and the products you are using could be wreaking havoc on public and environmental health as well?

In fact, not only can your cleaning supplies and other household products be making you and your family more susceptible to illness, cancer, and other toxic dangers, they can also be helping create “super” pathogens—and all while attempting to eliminate them.

Here is what you need to know about the hidden dangers of household items, and how you can keep you, your family and the environment safe from their effects.

If it Smells Nice, it’s Good for you, Right?

As humans, we are prone to associate nice smells with cleanliness and health, which may be true—at least to a point. However, even though a fragrance may work wonders at eliminating the worst of odors, there is a good chance it is putting you at risk of endocrine disruption and its associated dangers, such as birth defects, cognitive and brain development problems, and cancer. Allergic reactions from ingredients in many cleaning products is also a concern, and those with allergies may not even realize that the source of their suffering has more to do with a room spray or a deodorizer than it does anything else. (1)

Likewise, sanitizing your home with harsh antibacterial products can not only put you and your family’s health at risk, it also makes bacteria stronger and more chemical resistant. This is because when a chemical such as triclosan or benzalkonium chloride is used to kill “99.9% of all bacteria,” it leaves .01% of the bacteria alive, which happen to be the genetically strongest microbes, since they are able to survive such a chemical onslaught. These bacteria then pass along their superior structure to future generations, which become “super pathogens” that are impervious to antibacterial chemicals. (2)

Other household items which you need to be aware of are fire retardants, which are commonly used in carpets, clothing, furniture and bedding; oven cleaner, furniture polish, nearly all conventional pest-control products, and many conventional cleaning supplies.

Why Are These Items Bad for Us?

While most conventional cleaning products can make your house smell nice and ward off the immediate threat of pathogens, their long-term use often points in a different direction. This is because most contain dangerous chemicals and additives which can do you more long-term harm than the uncleanliness they eliminate—and no, this is not to say that living in squalor is a viable alternative, just that chemicals are NOT the best solution!

And, some of the chemicals to be wary of include:

Phthalates—Phthalates are a group of compounds used to make plastic more flexible and longer-lasting, as well as to form solvents in perfumes and pesticides. Their household use includes personal care items, detergents, adhesives, paint, modeling clay, scented candles, room sprays, plastic toys, plastic wraps, plastic food containers and other plastic items. The unfortunate truth is, despite phthalates having been linked to hormone disruption, obesity, liver damage, testicular damage, and cancer, they are one of the hardest environmental pollutants to avoid. Whether it’s from sitting in a new car or, from air fresheners or perfumes, phthalates are nearly everywhere. (3,4)

However, you still have the option of reducing your exposure to them to the best of your abilities, which means looking for fragrance-free and organic products, as well as products labeled “phthalate free.” Other things you should look for and avoid are products which simply list “fragrance” as an ingredient, and instead look for a specific, natural source of the product’s fragrance, such as from essential oils, and exposure to most plastics should also be avoided. (5)

Glycol ethers—Commonly used as paint solvents, glycol ethers are also found in many cosmetics and cleaning products and have been shown to cause shrinking of the testicles of rats exposed to them. They have also been linked to low sperm count and blood abnormalities in painters, and there is evidence that children exposed to them have far higher instances of asthma and allergies than those who were not.

So far as avoiding them, don’t purchase or use products which contain either 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) or methoxydiglycol (DEGME), and consider natural cleaning products rather than commercially produced ones. However, this does not mean that just because a product is labeled “natural” means it is (remember, many dangerous cleaning products are also labeled “safe”), or even that products containing all-natural ingredients are necessarily harmless, for that matter. By understanding what to look for on the ingredient label before buying a product, you can better ensure that you and your family are safe. (6)

Quats—Quarternary ammonium compounds (QUATS) are a class of antibacterial chemicals which are commonly used in hand soaps, clothing, baby care products, disinfectant sprays, and many other products which have antibacterial properties. As with nearly any antibacterial chemical, there are a host of health problems linked to their use, including asthma, contact dermatitis, endocrine disruption, and they can cause eye irritation, corneal damage and ocular toxicity through direct contact with the eyes, as well. As a general rule, it is best to avoid ALL products which claim to kill 99.9% of bacteria, and instead, consider natural cleaners which have antimicrobial properties stemming from ingredients such as vinegar, alcohol, thymol, or grapefruit seed extract. You can also allow things to air-dry outside when the weather is warm, since fresh air and sunshine are highly effective disinfectants, and boiling water also works at killing off pathogens. So far as cleaning hands, plain old soap and water works best, according to the American Medical Association. (7,8,9)

Ammonia—Commonly found in window cleaners and polishing agents, ammonia is a strong corrosive substance and irritant which evaporates quickly and is then often inhaled by those exposed to it. It has been linked to breathing problems, such as asthma and chronic bronchitis, and it can also cause lung damage, as well. In high enough concentrations or from direct exposure, it can cause severe burning of the eyes, lungs, throat, stomach and skin.

While ammonia is used due to its ability to leave surfaces streak-free after cleaning, you can also use vinegar and water or alcohol to the same effect, and thus avoid the health dangers surrounding ammonia. (10)

Bleach—Sodium hypochlorite—AKA bleach—is another common household cleaner which you likely already understand has health dangers associated with it. However, while you may know to keep it off your skin, and of course, never to ingest it, were you aware of the dangers of breathing bleach? Or that mixing it with other types of chemical cleaners can create noxious and even deadly gasses?

For instance, as of 2012, bleach has been named as an asthmagen by the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics, which means that it causes non-sufferers to become asthmatic, as opposed to only being an asthma trigger for those who currently have asthma. Long-term exposure to bleach fumes can also lead to pulmonary edema and other lung damage, and exposure to it can cause blurred vision, burning of the nose, throat and eyes, breathing difficulties, and skin injuries which appear similar to frostbite. (11)

You should also NEVER mix bleach with ammonia, vinegar, or other types of acids, since doing so creates chlorine gas, which can cause severe breathing difficulties, vomiting, pneumonia, pulmonary edema, and in high enough concentrations, death. (12)

For a natural alternative to bleach, go here for a simple, inexpensive recipe which will help keep your cloths bright and fresh-smelling, and also look for natural and “green” cleaning products—although as previously mentioned, don’t simply trust the front of the label, and instead, check the ingredients yourself. It is also recommended that you refer to the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) website for information on ingredients you are unfamiliar with, which you can go here to visit.

Finally

For instance, as of 2012, bleach has been named as an asthmagen by the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics, which means that it causes non-sufferers to become asthmatic, as opposed to only being an asthma trigger for those who currently have asthma. Long-term exposure to bleach fumes can also lead to pulmonary edema and other lung damage, and exposure to it can cause blurred vision, burning of the nose, throat and eyes, breathing difficulties, and skin injuries which appear similar to frostbite. (11)

You should also NEVER mix bleach with ammonia, vinegar, or other types of acids, since doing so creates chlorine gas, which can cause severe breathing difficulties, vomiting, pneumonia, pulmonary edema, and in high enough concentrations, death. (12)

For a natural alternative to bleach, go here for a simple, inexpensive recipe which will help keep your cloths bright and fresh-smelling, and also look for natural and “green” cleaning products—although as previously mentioned, don’t simply trust the front of the label, and instead, check the ingredients yourself. It is also recommended that you refer to the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) website for information on ingredients you are unfamiliar with, which you can go here to visit.

Finally

Yes, it is easy to assume that because you use household items which help you keep your home clean and nice smelling that you are doing what’s healthiest for you and your family. However, just because things appear sanitary and in order does not mean they are healthy, since many conventional cleaning supplies contain some very dangerous ingredients.

So, be aware of what you buy, learn what to look for, and best of all, try for simple, safe, natural cleaners you can make yourself which can not only be as effective as their dangerous commercial counterparts, but can save you money as well.

Plus, you may even have some fun making your own natural cleaning supplies!

Toxic Chemicals can Disrupt Hormone Balance

Do you not quite feel as well as you used to? Take our symptom checker to find out what could be the underlying cause.

References:
1. Endocrine Disruptor
2. Antibiotic Resistance
3. Phthalate
4. How to Avoid Phthalates
5. Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors
6. Dirty Dozen List of Endocrine Disruptors
7. Quaternary Ammonium Compounds in Cleaning Products
8. Fresh Air and Sunshine – Natural “Antibiotics”?
9. Dirty Dozen List Endocrine Disruptors
10. Public Health Statement for Ammonia
11. Emergency Preparedness and Response – CDC
12. Dangers of Mixing Bleach with Cleaners

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