I have to admit, I always wondered why I should “waste my money” buying natural cleaning products. I thought it was much more important to watch what you put into your body, limiting pesticides and buying organic. I still think those things are very important, but after delving further into the matter, I’ve discovered some interesting facts regarding harmful chemicals:
- There are four basic chemical exposure pathways: inhalation, ingestion, injection, and absorption. You can actually absorb chemicals in the air through your skin!
- According to the EPA, the air inside a typical home is, on average, 2 to 5 times more polluted than the air outdoors due to household cleaners!!
- Some all-purpose cleaners contain diethanolamine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA). When these substances come into contact with nitrites (often present as undisclosed preservatives or contaminants), they react to form nitrosamines – carcinogens that readily penetrate the skin.
- When you wash cleaners down the drain, they go into our water system. Most ingredients break down into harmless substances but not all. And of those that don’t, not all are removable by our water filtration system.
- Chemicals released when using cleaning supplies contribute to chronic respiratory problems, allergic reactions and headaches.
- 2-butoxyethanol, a key ingredient in many window cleaners (NOT required by law to be listed on ingredient labels!), can cause sore throats when inhaled and at high levels can also contribute to narcosis, pulmonary edema, and severe liver and kidney damage (An enclosed bathroom is considered a place of potential high levels.)
- Maid and janitorial workers (who spend their days cleaning with chemical products) have been found to be among occupational groups that experience above average incidences of bladder cancer.
There are literally tens of thousands of untested chemicals in use today!
In a 2014 study, researchers at Harvard postulated that “even more neurotoxicants remain undiscovered” and they believe that, “Untested chemicals should not be presumed to be safe to brain development, and chemicals in existing use and all new chemicals must therefor be tested for developmental neurotoxicity.”
The Toxic Substances Control Act was first passed in 1976 and has remained essentially unchanged since. When the Act passed Congress it grandfathered in 62,000 chemicals, in essence giving a free pass to known toxins such as trichloroethylene and BPA. Now we all know now that BPA is toxic, which is why we removed it from our baby bottles (etc.) and no longer microwave our food in plastic dishes. But if that chemical had been tested in the first place, we wouldn’t have been unknowingly exposed. And the same is true for toxins in our cleaning products.
The FDA tells us that small amounts of certain chemicals are harmless. But it’s been proven time and again, that your body can’t get rid of every single harmful chemical in which it comes into contact. When we are exposed to those harmful chemicals, they build up in our body, and therein lies the danger. Also, studies have shown the combined impact of multiple chemical substances acting together is far more destructive to the body than each of the chemicals acting alone. You wouldn’t combine certain medications, so why would you combine chemicals in your body? We’ve all seen what happens when you experiment with chemical reactions in science class!
I believe natural cleaners do just as well as commercial cleaners. I often use just vinegar and water to clean my floors and counters with a little tea tree oil for boosted antibacterial, antiviral, and anti fungal properties.
Please do your own research; don’t just take my word for it! And do what you can to lessen the toxic burden on your body whenever possible. Every little bit counts!