Now more than ever, over-sanitation is too common in the household. We house an assortment of cleaning products beneath the sink, in either the kitchen or bathroom. People bleach the counters or high-touch surfaces, and they wipe the floors until they are shiny and spotless. The important thing to remember is that people do these things to keep themselves safe. As it turns out, they may do more harm than good for the body.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), upwards of 2,000 cleaning supplies on the American market contain chemicals that can lead to serious health problems. Fumes from some products lead to respiratory distress, while carcinogenic compounds in others increase cancer risk. Parents who over-sanitize the house can cause their children to grow up to develop serious respiratory problems like asthma. One study even found that inhaling chemicals from cleaning products has a similar damaging effect that cigarettes have on the lungs. Pregnant women who clean with chemical products may even increase the risk of birth defects.
Are People Not Informed About These Risks?
Despite all of this information, cleaning products still make it onto U.S. shelves. Manufactures are not required to list all the ingredients in these cleaning products. Additionally, don’t assume that “green” cleaning products are 100% safe for you. They can still contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), fragrances, and other irritants. That’s why it’s always best to do your research on the safest cleaning products for your health. The Environmental Protection Agency has a list of cleaning products that are safer and healthier for cleaning needs.
Home Cleaning Products Study
The University of Bergen in Norway conducted a 20-year study on home cleaning products. The study monitored 6,230 participants between the ages of 20 and 44. Each participant had up to three lung tests during the duration of the study. The study divided the participants into three categories: people who cleaned at least once a week, people who didn’t clean, and people who cleaned as a profession. The results indicated that women who cleaned once a week experienced reduced lung function. They also experienced an increase in asthma. Women who cleaned as a profession saw a decline in lung function that mimicked the effects of smoking half a pack of cigarettes per day. Men in the study had similar effects.
While the takeaway from that study seems like cleaning products only affect lung function, this is not the case. They contain chemicals that can disrupt the endocrine system, which contains the glands that regulate hormones. Disrupting this system can lead to hormonal imbalance that can affect the body’s natural messaging system. Additionally, the chemicals can block hormone function, or mimic hormone function. Either way, they disrupt hormones and cause distress, confusion, or even nutritional deficiencies in the body. Some other problems that household cleaners cause include:
- Birth defects
- Skin disorders
- Respiratory issues
- Nerve damage
- Increased cancer risk
- Eye irritation
Can You Avoid These Problems?
Chemical cleaning products are convenient. People know them because they regularly see them in the stores and in commercials. The best thing you can do to keep yourself protected is to read the labels and reports on the products before purchasing them. Opt for products that do not contain fragrances, flammable ingredients, irritants, or VOCs. Additionally, don’t buy air fresheners.
A safe cleaning alternative to major household cleaning products is soap and warm water. This is great for cleaning the home. Lastly, baking soda is excellent for scrubbing away grime. You can also use distilled white vinegar and water to clean glass surfaces. When you clean, be it with natural or chemical cleaning products, make sure to keep the home well ventilated. Open the windows so that fresh air can come in and the chemicals can go out.