Most people may not give this a second thought, but perhaps the environment in your home may be making you sick. There are literally hundreds of factors that could be affecting the safety factor of your home. Synthetic household products contain harmful chemicals that react with ozone from the air, creating toxins like formaldehyde. The inside of homes contain around two to five times as many of common chemical pollutants than areas outside of homes, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Considering people spend around 90 percent of their time inside, the denser concentration of chemicals is significant. Indoor pollutants can cause headaches, flu-like symptoms, neurological issues and possibly increase the risk of respiratory disease. Natural products for cleaning are therefore better for health. Using green cleaning products is also better for the environment. Let’s take a look at a few of the most potential sources of dangerous toxins.
- Furniture and fixtures
The worst culprit in the home is formaldehyde. It is classified as a known human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It is a colorless and flammable chemical that is used in building materials, furniture, carpets and many household products. It is even found in “wrinkle-free” and preshrunk clothing.
Since this toxic gas may be floating around in your home, try to keep your home well ventilated, especially at night. Live, green plants help oxygenate your home and absorb many toxins.
- Cleaning products
The average household has over three gallons of toxic cleaners in it. The most dangerous chemicals are “ethylene based glycols that are used in floor cleaners, paints, plastics and in synthetic fibers. According to the EPA, this water soluble solvent is classified as a hazardous air pollutant.
Cleaning products that contain bleach (floor cleaners, dishwasher and clothing detergents, bathroom cleaners) and similar disinfectants can react to create volatile chlorinated compounds.
A 2008 European study found that inhalation of these chlorine-based compounds could “significantly increase the cancer risk.” Eliminating toxiccleaning products can be as simple as purchasing “green” and non-toxic products at your local natural market. For the more adventurous cleaner, you can make your own. Vinegar and water is a great disinfectant and degreaser. Baking soda sprinkled with clove oil can be used to scrub and disinfect your bathroom.
- Dry cleaning chemicals
Ever wonder what that distinct smell is on your clothes when you bring them home wrapped in plastic from the dry cleaners? That chemical smell is PERC or percloroethylene. PERC breaks down into several byproducts like carbon tetrachloride, a known liver carcinogen. Also, conventional laundry-care products often contain chemicals with negative health effects ranging from skin and throat irritation to carcinogenicity. In fact, the laundry room may be one of the more toxic areas in your home. Researchers have found that dryer vents can emit more than 25 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when scented laundry detergent and dryer sheets are used, including seven VOCs classified as hazardous air pollutants.
- Spray cleaners
Until recently, people who experienced respiratory problems from household use of spray cleaners had no facts to back up their claims of shortness of breath or wheezing. That has changed.. Using cleaning products all day, every day has been linked to an array of illnesses. But now results of a new epidemiological study are in which are relevant to anyone who spritzes the bathroom mirror with window cleaner.
This European study tracked 3,500 people who had no history of asthma symptoms. After an average of nine years, the frequency of each person’s cleaning product use was determined and factored against his or her current health. Using a spray cleaner only once a week increased the risk of developing asthma by almost 50 percent.
Among those who used sprays more frequently, four times a week, the risk of asthma was nearly doubled. The strongest effect was seen from the use of glass cleaners, air fresheners and furniture cleaners. Although women were found to be vulnerable to developing this respiratory disorder the study noted that men had an even higher likelihood of developing asthma when using spray cleaners. The study’s lead author, Jan-Paul Zock of the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology at the Municipal Institute of Medical Research in Barcelona, Spain, estimates that exposure to the chemicals found in cleaning products may account for one in seven adult onset asthma cases.
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