The Real Dangers of Household Cleaning Products

7.14.2015

household-cleaningWritten by: Helen Gale

Millions of consumers around the world make the mistake of believing that every product on sale in the supermarket must be safe. If you are one of these consumers, you need to reconsider. The dangers of ‘off the shelf’ bleach and cleaning products are well documented by scientists and doctors, but somehow never make it out into the wider attention of the public (1).

Despite the concern in many quarters about the safety of cleaning products such as bleach, there are still no regulatory bodies making sure that the chemicals you bring into your home are actually safe enough for use (2). The makeup of many of these products is also often protected and hidden from consumers under the guise of trademark and proprietary information.

Just how dangerous are these cleaning products?

Under regulations set out by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) you will be required to wear a mask and gloves for protection if you are using bleach to clean up (3). Chlorine is often used at home to sanitize work surfaces; however, scientists in the lab will only handle chlorine with face masks, gloves, and ventilation.

Many people do not know that they should consider such stringent precautions. The sanitation department of most states is also aware of the dangers of these household products (4). They refuse to dispose of any full containers as they are classified as hazardous material. It’s becoming more clear that ordinary people are wanting to know a lot more about what they are using to clean their homes and just how safe the products on the supermarket shelves are. 

Chlorine: from agent of war to household cleaning agent 

Chlorine is commonly added to cleaning products that are frequently used in the home, such as dishwasher detergent. However, many people are unaware that chlorine was the first agent used in chemical warfare attacks as far back as World War I. It is unknown exactly how chlorine came from being weaponized to being used by families in the home, but many people who learn of this remarkable journey are understandably concerned (5).

What’s even more frightening is that chlorine is added to our water supply and other products around the home without us even knowing it. Without a shower filter, the chlorine heated up in the water will turn to gas which you will inhale, mostly without your knowledge of it even happening. The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) have recorded many instances of exposure to household cleaning products which required individuals to go to hospital for treatment. The common culprits are powerful chlorine-based bleaches such as drain cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, and detergents. 

What is chlorine and why is it dangerous?

Chlorine bleach is a corrosive material which will irritate the eyes and skin if it comes into contact with them. Simply inhaling the gases from chlorine bleach can irritate the respiratory tract causing damage. Symptoms can range from a bleeding nose and headaches to neurological disorders and, under extreme circumstances, death.

In liquid form, household bleach which is not watered down can cause pulmonary edema, vomiting, or induce a coma if ingested. The primary cause of household poisoning is dish detergent. If swallowed it is corrosive and will permanently damage the mouth and throat, often proving to be fatal.

The evidence against the safety of household products

There is evidence coming forth about the instability of household products. Used over a lifetime it has been shown that there can be a cumulative effect which causes tremendous strain on major organs including the liver, kidneys, and lungs. Because this effect is so gradual, we are often oblivious to it happening. We may never realize that these chemicals are the culprits in health disorders we encounter later in life.

Asthma has been linked to chlorine and parents are recommended to keep their young children away from these chemical. Mixtures of household chemicals can also be used as inhalants (6). These unchecked and unregulated chemicals are incredibly dangerous and can lead to solvent abuse and addiction in vulnerable people (7). Chlorine toxicity has also been linked to breast cancer, but despite all this, chlorine bleach remains the most popular way to disinfect the home.

How can you protect yourself and your family against the hazards of chlorine bleach? 

There are many safe organic alternatives to bleach that you can use to clean your home which will not put you and your family at risk (8). You have a responsibility to educate yourself as to what these are and minimize your use of harmful chemicals around your home. 

SMT ChlorineDioxideCTA blog

Sources

1.    http://www.educatingwellness.com/natural-health/dangers-of-bleach/, accessed on 06/18/2015

2.    http://www.medicaldaily.com/dangers-household-bleach-kids-exposed-cleaner-may-experience-respiratory-illness-328146, accessed on 06/18/2015

3.    https://www.osha.gov/, accessed on 06/18/2015

4.    http://www1.nyc.gov/site/dsny/index.page, accessed on 06/18/2015

5.    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908650/, accessed on 06/18/2015

6.    http://teendrugabuse.us/teenage-abuse-of-common-household-products/, accessed on 06/18/2015

7.    https://www.mentalhelp.net/substance-abuse/, accessed on 06/18/2015

8.    http://www.greencleancertified.com/green-cleaning-facts/household-cleaning-products-may-do-more-harm-than-good, accessed on 06/18/2015