The Dirty Clean
It is often hard to find out how dangerous our products really are. Many companies that sell household cleaning products hide chemicals in their products and use the label natural as a mask. In fact, a majority of companies don’t even label all of their ingredients and give vague code words instead. In a recent report by EWG, EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning, it was found that there are many hazardous chemicals lurking in the products that we use daily. Only 7% of the products tested were found to adequately label their ingredients. That means that almost all of your cleaning products can have potentially harmful ingredients that you aren’t aware of.
Cleaning products, unlike food and drugs which are regulated by the FDA, are not required to have a label. Instead they are allowed to list their ingredients separately on their website even though these chemicals can still affect our health. This is because many of the chemicals themselves are not regulated. The most recent regulation is from 1976 ignores more than 60,000 chemicals whose effects on our health are unknown. Think about the nice smell that some cleaning products use and the strong stench of others, both of these can indicate your product may be harmful. Additionally, many of these chemicals are spread onto surfaces that we eat off of, allowing them further access to our bodies. Even antibacterial products can be dangerous for our health and are unnecessary when compared to regular soap which cleans just as well.
Cleaning products can be linked to diseases such as asthma in people who didn't previously use them. Additionally they can cause allergies, and even cancer as there are many carcinogens in cleaning products, such as dioxane and formaldehyde. There are also health risks for the children of those who use dangerous cleaning products. A 2010 study by the New York Department of Health found increased birth defects in children of mothers who held cleaning jobs while pregnant.
Luckily you can find how good or bad your cleaning products really are by using EWG’s database which allows you to search your product which it rates on a multitude of scales. It is also recommended to try to avoid air fresheners, antibacterial products, and fabric softeners because these can contain harmful chemicals and are not necessary.
In conclusion, there are many harmful hidden chemicals in the products we use on a daily basis, including household cleaning products. These chemicals are unregulated and often not listed on the product. By switching to safer products with the help of EWGs search, you can reduce your risk for cancer, asthma, allergies, and reduce the risk of birth defects in your children.
By Sara Frawley