It’s true, not all chemicals are harmful to humans, especially in small doses. But there are many reasons to cut down or eliminate the use of chemical cleaning products.
For starters, some chemicals are fat soluble, meaning they build up and store in your fat cells, compounding over time and releasing as the fat is eventually burned. This process can lead to exposure of larger doses of these chemicals if they have years to build up.
Another concern is that chemicals frequently have a more immediate effect on the smaller bodies of pets or children.
Bleach is an excellent example in this case. Bleach is caustic and if digested can lead to a break down of the mucous linings of the mouth, throat and digestive tract. Children and animals are most likely to ingest bleach by getting some residue on their paw or hand, and then putting that in their mouth. Your dog will eventually lick its paw clean, and every baby I have ever met is constantly trying to put their hands in their mouth.
The good news is that ingesting this way will not usually lead to major damage, but may cause vomiting, difficulty breathing and a few other issues.
The bad news is that using bleach-based cleaners can leave the residue that causes the problem in the first place.
If your pet or child does somehow ingest a small amount of bleach, the recommended treatment is drinking large amounts of milk or water.
NOTE: If your child or pet consumes more than just an incidental amount of bleach, even just a mouthful, seek medical assistance immediately as it can be life-threatening
There are many available options for chemical-free cleaning: scrubbing stones, microfiber cloths, homemade cleaners (usually vinegar based). There is often a lot of science behind these products and recipes, so I will do my best to uncover their secrets and recommend the best products out there.
What else is bad for you?
Bleach is a great example, but there are many other ingredients to watch out for.
I won’t list every chemical–here is a list if you want to read more–but I will review some of the categories and their potential dangers. After all, knowing is half the battle.
Some people get headaches or asthma from ingredients used in fragrance. In fact, nearly one-third of Americans are irritated by fragrances, according to this 2009 study. I am one of those people, and I consider myself lucky. Because of the headaches I get, I have been avoiding fragrances pretty much my whole life. So I haven’t had as much exposure to the chemicals in them.
One thing to note is that some people think of fragrance and perfume differently. Some consider “fragrance” to mean natural scents such as essential oils. To be clear, I am referring to the chemical fragrances used in perfumes and cleaning products in this article.
Fragrance is at the top of the list because I think it gets overlooked all too often. Technically, the fragrance industry is regulated by the FDA and is required to list ingredients on the label; however, there is a trade secret loophole that allows them to simply list “fragrance” instead of the actual ingredients. The simple, unassuming word “fragrance” can be used to replace literally hundreds of chemicals, so long as they are combined in some way that can be construed as a trade secret. Also, the law does not require FDA approval before they go to market.
In 2007, the word “fragrance” was voted Allergen of the Year. But, ok, what about individuals with allergies and asthma? The rest of you surely must be safe, right?
Here is just one example of a very dangerous chemical that was widely used in fragrances.
Acetyl ethyl tetramethyl tetralin (AETT), now discontinued, causes neurological damage. Symptoms such as aggression, hyperactivity, nerve damage and more.
If this sounds familiar, you are probably familiar with the concept of lead poisoning, which has the same types of symptoms. Both lead and AETT were discontinued from their respective use in 1978. But for some reason, we still hear terrible and, more importantly, recent cases of severe lead poisoning. Just ask the residents of Flint, MI if lead is still an issue or not.
In the case of Flint, the issue was a lot to do with aging infrastructure that contained lead. But if you do your homework on the use of lead and risk of lead poisoning, you will find that not all countries have banned use of lead. Have you ever heard of children’s toys coming from China, and other countries, with lead in the paint? Some countries allow the use of lead in cosmetics as well. So, I ask you to think about where your perfume is made. It’s not very likely to be the USA. Do you know if AETT is banned from use in that country? Do you know if it’s one of the trade secret “fragrance” ingredients? No, most likely you don’t.
Another thing to consider is that AETT was used for 22 years before it was banned. What chemicals might be in use now that will eventually be banned?
As I continue my research I will keep adding categories and information. That’s all for now!
Please comment below if you have any chemicals you’d like to see more info about, or if you have any additional information about soimething I’ve posted.
Also please comment if you feel my information is in any way inaccurate, I strive to provide quality information from solid sources, so let me know if anything is misrepresented.