Cleaners and Lung Damage: The Scary Truth: It seems like we’re always discovering a new link between a health risk and a commonly found ingredient, especially when it comes to cleaning products. But what about the cumulative effect of our exposure to so many harmful chemicals over the course of our lifetimes? Recent studies have come out with some answers, and it isn’t good.
As dangerous as smoking?
You might want to brace yourself for this one: A recent study found the cumulative effect of cleaning products on respiratory systems to be as damaging as smoking twenty cigarettes a day. Shocking, right? Maybe not, when you consider how many common ingredients in household cleaners are linked to respiratory conditions like asthma and allergic reactions. Researchers found that the chemicals irritated the delicate mucus lining of the lungs, causing permanent damage and an overall decline in lung health.
It’s in the air
For many of us, air pollution conjures up images of big cities encased in smog thanks to gas-guzzling SUVs. While that was once true, in the last few decades, stricter air pollution regulations imposed on the auto industry has resulted in a significant decrease in tailpipe emisisions. So what’s crowding our ozone with toxic fumes now? According to one new study, chemicals from personal care products and household cleaners are major culprits. The study found that petroleum-based chemicals used in fragrances and paints emit pollution which can trigger asthma, cause permanent damage to our lungs and are linked to heart attacks, strokes and lung cancer. How much trouble can just a few spritzes of air freshener really cause? More than you might think, given 40% of chemicals added to consumer products wind up in the air. Knowing some of the worst offenders is a good way to start sourcing non-toxic cleaning products. Here are three tips to help guide you in selecting the safest ones for your home and family.
3 Tips for Selecting Non-Toxic Household Cleaners
1. Sniff out fragrance-free options
Fragrances are considered trade secrets, which allows manufacturers to hide literally hundreds of ingredients without disclosing them. And a product that contains fragrance will also likely contain phthalates, which are used to help fragrances last. Health risks for phthalates are startling and include cancer, human reproductive and developmental toxicity, endocrine disruption, birth defects & respiratory problems. As you scan labels, be wary of claims like “unscented” and “fragrance-free.” That doesn’t mean you’re safe. You also have to check the ingredient list, because sometimes manufacturers use masking fragrances to cover the chemical smell of their products. A fragrance-free product means it does not have an added fragrance, so technically, a fragrance-free product can still contain a scent, like an essential oil or floral water distillate, as long as the company didn’t use a fragrance to change the odor. Bottom line: At the end of the day, your best bet is to avoid all fragranced products – from household cleaning supplies to beauty and personal care products.
2. “Natural” does NOT mean non-toxic
Hay, arsenic and lead are natural and you wouldn’t want to ingest them, right? Natural and botanical ingredients can also be harmful, because even they can trigger allergic reactions. And so called “natural fragrances” can be just as toxic as synthetic fragrances. Terpenes, for example, are a natural fragrance emitted by citrus and pine trees (they’re actually the reason for the blue haze that gives the Blue Ridge Mountains their hue!), but they’re also linked to a host of respiratory issues like allergies and asthma.
3. Be a Minimalist
Even if you’re doing your best to find safer products, researchers say “to use as little of the product as you can to get the job done.” While finding non-toxic cleaning products will cut down on your exposure, a little goes a long way with any cleaning or personal care product. You don’t need to bring out the big guns for a little juice spill or use an entire palmful of dish detergent as you wash your dishes.
The Good News
The good news is you don’t need to choose between effective cleaning and your health when it comes to household cleaning products. Because now there’s Force of Nature, a revolutionary new product that has zero harmful chemicals, fragrances, dyes, preservatives, allergens or irritants. We took an industrial grade technology used in green cleaning, wound healing and eye care products and shrunk it down to a small household appliance roughly the size of a sports water bottle. It uses electricity to turn 3 simple ingredients – salt, water and vinegar – into a non-toxic cleaner as effective as bleach. It’s so gentle you can use it to clean things like pacifiers, baby toys, cutting boards and make-up brushes without even needing to rinse afterward.