Since Earth Day is this month, I thought I’d write about natural cleansing products, since it’s an easy way to help the environment while going about our daily lives. Often when people think about being healthier they look to diet and exercise, and those are two crucial areas of our health, but many people don’t realize the dangers of the toxic chemicals they’re exposing themselves to every day through conventional cleaning products.
On Earth Day, air pollution is one of the things we may think of, and ways to change that. Unfortunately many people don’t think of the air pollution inside their own homes caused by toxic cleaning products. According to the EPA the levels of indoor air pollution may be two to five times higher (and occasionally more than 100 times higher) than outdoor levels. This type of air pollution is almost entirely avoidable, and switching to natural cleansers is a big part of that.
Only about 900 of the 10,000 chemicals in use today have been tested by the EPA as possible cancer causing agents. Another problem is that conventional cleansers do not need to list their ingredients on the labels. The chemicals in conventional cleaning products are toxic to humans, animals, and the environment. Here’s a short list of some of the common chemicals used in cleansers (this list was taken from volunteerguide.org):
· Phosphates, found in dishwasher and laundry detergents, cause algae bloom, which kills fish and aquatic plants, and produces chemicals that are toxic to animals and people who drink the water.
· Trisodium nitrilotriacetate is a possible carcinogen in laundry detergents. It can disrupt the elimination of metals in wastewater treatment facilities.
· Chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite), available alone and in detergents and other products, is toxic to fish and can bind with organic compounds in water to form organochlorines, which break down slowly in the environment and accumulate in the fatty tissues of wildlife. Chlorine is especially toxic to organisms that live in water and soil.
· Napthas and mineral spirits, found in furniture polishes, are neurotoxins and considered hazardous waste. Mineral spirits break down very slowly and contaminate air and water.
· Formaldehyde, an ingredient in furniture polish and various cleaning products, is a potential human carcinogen and a known cancer-causing agent in animals.
· Phthalates, found in furniture polish, disrupt hormone function and can cause genetic defects in both animals and humans.
· Ether-type solvents, methylene chloride, butyl cellosive, and petroleum distillates, found in oven cleaners are hazardous waste and can contaminate the air, water, and soil.
· Sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide, in drain cleaners, can change the pH of water and cause fish kills.
Children are especially susceptible to damage from these toxins, since their brain, organs, respiratory and other systems are not fully developed. There have even been studies showing damage to developing fetuses when pregnant women are exposed to certain chemicals.
I don’t want to sound alarmist, but rather hope this will make others consider switching to natural, earth friendly cleaning products. I can’t encourage you enough to make the switch, for your own health and the earth’s as well. It’s a simple change which can make a lasting difference.
Earth Friendly Product’s Parsley Plus is one of my favorites. It smells amazing and is great for kitchens and bathrooms or any hard surface. You have to smell it to believe how wonderful it is, especially if you’re used to artificial, chemical based cleansers.
Citrasolv is a wonderful all purpose cleaner. It’s concentrated, so it lasts a long time. It’s great for removing grease and all kinds of gunk, adhesive and stains without chemicals. It’s definitely one to have in your cleaning arsenal.
Earth Friendly Product’s Window Kleener with Lavender is another I always have in my house. It cleans glass (other surfaces as well) without chemicals and leaves them clean and streak free. Plus, it doesn’t spray a bunch of chemicals into the air for you to breathe in (unlike conventional glass cleaners).
Another great reason to use natural cleaners is that kids can “help” without you having to worry about toxic chemicals. I’d never feel comfortable giving my almost three year old a bottle of Windex to spray on the windows to help “clean”, but I feel comfortable with her using a natural window cleaner (with supervision of course) so she can help.