LEARNING TO READ LABELS ON HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS



There is nothing better than the feel and smell of a clean house. Fresh linen, clean floors and sparkling windows. However, hidden in the cleaning and household products are stacks of chemicals that range from mild irritants to extremely harmful and potent additives. Furthermore, many of the chemicals used have not been properly tested for safety and are often not even a beneficial cleaning agent. Some chemicals are added to make the product smell nice, foam well or have a pleasant colour. For your reference and guide, I have put together a list of common toxic chemicals found in household products. Please don't be overwhelmed by the following in-depth information, however the impact of these chemicals are significant on your overall well being and the environment. I strongly urge you to choose products with few or none of them in it, or use completely natural products that I will share with you in coming posts. In terms of cleaning and household products, ignorance is really not bliss!



PARFUM


Used in air fresheners, laundry detergents, fabric softeners and furniture polishes. As stated by David Suzuki (an amazing scientist and environmental activist), there are some 3,000 chemicals used as fragrances. Even products listed as "fragrance free" or "unscented" may contain a chemical fragrance to mask the fragrance being used. How insane is that?! Suzuki also goes on to argue that many of the parfum chemicals used have not been tested for toxicity alone or in combination. Ava Anderson (blogger, writer and natural beauty/safe cosmetics expert) goes on to say that 95% of synthetic fragrances are derived from petrochemicals. Some of the most toxic being: benzene derivatives, aldehydes and phthalates. Some health effects from parfum include; asthma and breathing problems (ever accidentally breathed in some washing powder and coughed profusely?) nausea, mood changes, depression/lethargy, headaches/migraines, skin irritation and memory lapses. Phthalates have also been linked to early puberty in girls, reduced sperm count, obesity and insulin resistance in men as well as serious health effects for babies when exposed to the chemical in large quantities through breast milk.



PHENOL


Found in bathroom/toilet cleaners and disinfectants. It is even used in ear and nose drops, throat lozenges and mouth washes. This is an extremely toxic chemical listed on the EPA hazard list. It is considered at its most toxic for humans through oral exposure. Health  effects include; significant irritation to skin, eyes and mucus membranes. The EPA also states that "anorexia, progressive weight loss, diarrhoea, vertigo, salivation, a dark coloration of the urine, and blood and liver effects have been reported in chronically (long-term) exposed humans".



AMMONIA


Also known as anhydrous ammonia, is found in glass and window cleaners, floor cleaners, furniture and metal polishes and disinfectants. Ammonia is also found in the human body and commonly found in nature. It is found in soil as part of bacterial processes when waste decays (compost). However, when used in high concentration in cleaning/household products, it is very toxic and harmful to humans. Ammonia is a corrosive and the health effects is largely dependent on the concentration of exposure... If you use four or five products with ammonia in it, you can see how it builds up! The Department of Health New York states, "exposure to high concentrations of ammonia in the air causes immediate burning of the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tract and can result in blindness, lung damage or death." Minor exposures cause coughing, nose/throat irritation and headaches/migraines.



ALCOHOL