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Chemicals in Cleaning Products

Cleaning products and fabric softeners can contain many toxic ingredients which are not only harmful to you if you are chemically sensitive but are a potential health hazard to anyone who uses them on a regular basis. Just a few simple changes can make a huge difference to your long term health.

Formaldehyde is found in many household products from fabric softeners, paints, cleaning products, adhesives, carpets, bedding and even toothpaste and diet drinks - did you know that Aspartame is a by-product of formaldehyde? Formaldehyde has been found to cause cancer in rats. It can cause dizziness, headaches, heart palpitations, depression, insomnia, asthma, irritation to the eyes, nose, throat, lungs and skin.

To read more about Aspartame, please click here.

To read more about formaldehyde and its effects, please click here.

Household Ammonia is found in many cleaning and personal care products. It is dangerous on its own but can be deadly when mixed with other chemicals particularly bleach. Ammonia fumes can cause symptoms from headaches, nausea and vomiting to  fluid buildup in the lungs.
 
To read more about  ammonia and its effects, please click here.
 
Chlorine is found in tap water, cleaning products and detergents. It is an irritant and a corrosive and can cause irritation of the lungs, respiratory passages and skin. Chlorine in washing detergents can leave a residue in the clothes and bedding that can cause skin problems or aggravate conditions such as eczema.
 
Chlorine is, by itself, a yellow-green poisonous gas. It is an inorganic element that cannot exist by itself in nature but needs to bond to another element, the most common being sodium, hence, sodium-chloride, or salt. Chlorine has a corrosive effect on organic matter. Numerous scientific studies report that chlorinated water can destroy polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E. It can also destroy intestinal flora in the gut that help digestion of food and protect the body from harmful pathogens. It is not uncommon for chronic skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, seborrhea and eczema to clear up or significantly improve by switching to unchlorinated drinking and bathing water. In the chlorination process, chlorine combines with natural organic matter such as decaying vegetation to form trihalomethanes (THM’s) and haloforms that are known cancer causing substances.
 
Just read the label on a bottle of bleach to find out what the potential side effects of using chlorine bleach in the home may be. Experience the feeling in your nose and at the back of your throat when you come into contact with chlorine fumes and be aware that chlorine is bioaccumulative and that it does not break down easily either in the environment or in our bodies. 
 
Synthetic Fragrances are found in cosmetics, toiletries, cleaning products, detergents and air fresheners. Many are toxic and can cause adverse reactions including headaches, rashes and allergic symptoms.

To read what Pat Thomas has to say about frgrances gives one an idea of why it is best to avoid synthetic fragrances and use either unperfumed products or products that are gently fragranced using organic essentila oils. This is an exerpt from her book Living Dangerously:

"Most of the toxic chemicals that pollute the air in our homes and other buildings can be found in a single bottle of your favourite perfume. Indeed, perfumes are among the nastiest pollutrants in our indoor environment. First and foremost they are nasty because they are poisonous...   ...Consider that, of the several thousand different chemicals used in fragrance manufacture, 95 percent are derived from petroleum. ...In addition to being used in perfumes, fragrance chemicals are increasingly being used in an ever-wider variety of products, including cosmetics, hygienic products, drugs, detergents and other household cleaners, plastics, industrial greases, oils and solvents, foods and tobacco products.

In 1986, the US National Academy of Sciences targeted fragrances as one of the six categories of chemicalsthat should be given high priority for neurotoxicity testing. This recommendation placed  perfume ingredients right up there with insecticides, heavy metals, solvents and food additives as primary disease-causing agents."

Pat Thomas goes on to say that there is evidence that inhaled fragrances can cause side effects and when used in laundry products and cosmetices it is the number one cause of allergic and irritant skin reactions to those products. The chemicals that you inhale can be absorbed into your bloodstream and then into your brain. The long list of chronic problems associated to gragrance chemicals include:

  • agitation
  • anaphylaxis
  • asthma
  • confusion
  • coughing
  • depression
  • difficulty breathing and swallowing
  • eczema
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • headaches
  • irregular heart beat
  • lethargy
  • mood swings
  • muscle and joint pain
  • seizures
  • short-term memory loss
  • swollen lymph glands
  • sinusitis
  • sneezing
  • tinnitus etc. etc. etc. (this is just some of the problems she includes in her list.)

As well as being toxic in their own right, fragrances can also react with other substances to become more toxic.

To read an interesting article on Fragrance Chemical Exposure.. please click here.

 Reference: Why David Hated Tuesdays, Amilya Antonetti 
Living Dangerously, Pat Thomas