Mother Earth Living

Naturally Clean: Chemical Safety and Healthy Alternatives

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<p>What are the health risks of chemical cleaners and which ingredients should we look out for? The more I read about harmful household cleaners the more I want to know about the chemical ingredients that make these products unsafe. Here’s a look at some of the problematic chemicals found in many household cleaners and some greener/healthier alternatives for you to try instead.<br />
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According to a 2006 study by the <a href=”http://berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2006/05/22_householdchemicals.shtml” target=”_blank”>University of California Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory</a>, one of the most offensive common ingredients found in household cleaners, is <a href=”http://www.nswcc.org.au/editorial.asp?pageid=2345″ target=”_blank”>ethylene-based glycol ethers,</a> used commonly in cleaning agents. Also, <a href=”http://www.epa.gov/kidshometour/products/bleach.htm” target=”_blank”>chlorine bleach</a>, often labeled as “sodium hypochlorite” or “hypochlorite,” is often found in household cleaners. It’s  used to whiten fabrics or remove mold from surfaces. High-level exposure can irritate the lungs and cause chronic respiratory problems. Usually these conditions occur if you’re storing chlorine bleach in poorly ventilated rooms and breathing in its toxic fumes.  </p>
<p>Some other problematic chemicals found in many household cleaners include <a href=”http://www.health.state.ny.us/environmental/emergency/chemical_terrorism/ammonia_tech.htm” target=”_blank”>ammonia</a>. Mild exposure to ammonia vapors may cause respiratory irritation; repeated or prolonged exposure to vapors may cause irritation, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Butyl cellosolve is a toxic ingredient used in some all-purpose cleaners, window cleaners and other household cleaning products. It’s an eye irritant that has been linked to kidney and liver problems and is reportedly toxic to forming cells.<br />
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Here are some commonly used household products that should be avoided and a list of greener/healthier alternatives.</p>
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Photo by Rebecca Weeks/Courtesy Flickr<br />
<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/marinegirl/385097057/sizes/m/”>http://www.flickr.com/photos/marinegirl/385097057/sizes/m/</a>
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<b>Avoid:</b> All-purpose cleaners with butyl cellosolve or ammonia.<br />
<strong>Instead:</strong> Make a simple, herbal <a href=”https://www.motherearthliving.com/natural-health/naturally-clean-all-purpose-cleaner.aspx”>all-purpose cleaner</a>. It’s eco-friendly, healthy and only takes five minutes to make. The following ingredients are non-toxic and most of them you probably have on hand.</p>
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<b>Avoid:</b> Household bleach, used to whiten fabrics and remove spots, that contains chlorine bleach.<br />
<strong>Instead:</strong> Try making a <a href=”https://www.motherearthliving.com/natural-health/naturally-clean-bleach-brightener-substitute.aspx”>bleach/brightener substitute</a> to brighten your clothes. Use hydrogen peroxide, water, lemon juice and tea tree oil (which contains antibacterial properties) instead of using bleach that contains harsh chemicals.</p>
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<b>Avoid:</b> Air fresheners with the chemical, isopar (deodorized kerosene). It is a moderate eye and skin irritant.<br />
<strong>Instead:</strong> use essential oils such as lavender and rosemary to naturally scent your home.</p>
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<b>Avoid:</b> Carpet cleaners with butyl cellosolve.<br />
<strong>Instead:</strong> make a lavender-ginger suds rug shampoo. All you need is water, vinegar, sodium lauryl sulfate, baking soda and a few essential oils. The lavender and ginger essential oils help if animal smells are a problem.                  </p>
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<strong>References:</strong>
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“<a href=”http://www.preventcancer.com/press/pdfs/hazardous.pdf” target=”_blank”>Hazardous Ingredients In Household Products</a>,” provided by the Cancer Prevention Coalition.  <br />
<a href=”http://householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov/index.htm” target=”_blank”>Household Products Database</a>, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services</p>
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<font face=”Times New Roman” size=”3″>For more information on cleaning your home naturally, visit our blog series <span style=”FONT-STYLE: italic”>
<a href=”https://www.motherearthliving.com/naturally-clean.aspx”>Naturally Clean</a>.</span>
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  • Published on Jun 2, 2009
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