Environmentalists around the world can finally breathe a sigh of relief as the trend for cleaning products in our home moves towards becoming as chemical-free as possible. Bleach and other harsh floor-cleaning chemicals are being replaced with steam mops – doing the same job as a mop and bucket of chemically-induced dirty water without the added stress of wondering what our children are ingesting when they put something in their mouth that made contact with our floor. Multipurpose cleaners and dish soaps are becoming “eco-friendly,” made with “natural products” and even completely “organic” in some cases. Not to mention the switch from paper towels or other disposable wipes to cleaning cloths that can be reused over and over again.
The irony of our former obsession with chemical products is that they actually cause more harm than good. As good as they are for killing all bacteria within contact; they usually end up killing the good bacteria as well as the bad. By destroying everything in sight, the chemically-induced products actually heighten our risk of developing colds, flues and other unwanted illnesses as our immune systems are weakened. Not to mention the risk of “headaches; eye, nose, and throat irritation; nausea; loss of coordination; damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system; and cancer” (Wood, 2011) can worsen in the presence of aerosol sprays used to “freshen” our air.
The thing is – though the trend is moving towards more health and environmentally friendly products – there still are many who continue to advertise that use harsh chemicals. The other day I while watching television I actually came across a commercial for such a product. An aerosol spray. In the commercial a family was bombarded by an unpleasant smell (apparently cooking fish does it for some people) and so one family member took the can of spray and “freshened” the air, making everyone happy. Everyone in the commercial was so happy, in fact, that the catch phrase line was that this product would allow people to “take a breath of fresh air.” I don’t know about anyone else, but there seems to be something wrong with the picture if a person is relying on chemically-created scents to create “fresh air” within their home. What happened to opening a door or window? Step outside and breathe. What happened to having a live plant in the house? A rose has never smelt so sweet.
I find it both amusing and terrifying in how society throughout our world appears to be moving towards making changes to be more eco-friendly and yet, in a lot of ways, there are still aspects that hang onto the old ways. Bit by bit we will get there, but it’s going to take us giving what we have, what we do, what we want a hard look. The harsh reality is that what we do the earth we simply doing to ourselves.
Some of the Hidden Dangers of Cleaning Products (2011) are as follows:
- One million poisonings in Canada each year are due to household cleaner ingestion.
- Antibacterial cleaners may contain triclosan, which is absorbed through the skin and can be tied to liver damage.
- Bleach is a strong corrosive. It will irritate or burn the skin, eyes and respiratory tract. It may cause pulmonary edema or vomiting and coma if ingested. Never mix bleach with acid toilet bowl cleaners or ammonia. These mixtures may produce fumes which can be DEADLY.
- DISHWASHER DETERGENTS: Most products contain chlorine in a dry form that is highly concentrated. The #1 cause of household poisoning is dish detergent. Dishwashing liquids are labeled”harmful if swallowed.” Each time you wash your dishes, some residue is left on them, which accumulates with each washing. Your food picks up part of the residue — especially if your meal is hot when you eat it.
- Read more on this at: http://www.mamashealth.com/doc/cleanprod.asp
Beach, G., (2011) Hidden Dangers of Cleaning Products, Mama’s Health. http://www.mamashealth.com/doc/cleanprod.asp (Online June 17, 2011).
Wood, J.L., (2011) Aerosols and Lung Problems, eHow Health. http://www.ehow.com/about_6400948_aerosols-lung-problems.html (Online June 17, 2011).