Cleaning Supplies and Your Health

Cleaning Supplies and Your Health

Despite these health concerns that these chemicals cause, cleaning product labels often do not give consumers enough information about their ingredients to allow people to make informed decisions on which ones are safer and which ones might harm their health.

Fumes:   Fumes from some cleaning products may induce asthma in otherwise healthy individuals. A large and growing body of evidence links frequent use of many ordinary cleaning supplies at home or on the job with development of asthma and other respiratory problems. It is already known that cleaning product fumes may trigger attacks in persons previously diagnosed with asthma.

1,4-dioxane: Common cleaning ingredients can be laced with the carcinogenic impurity 1,4-dioxane. Independent tests have detected the presence of 1,4-dioxane in numerous name-brand cleaning supplies.  This chemical has been detected in a number of brand-name liquid laundry detergents.  Tide, Purex, Gain.

Formaldehyde:  many cleaning products contain preservatives that release low levels of cancer-causing formaldehyde.  Formaldehyde (sometimes called formalin). Designated by the U.S. government and World Health Organization as a known human carcinogen, it  is listed on labels or worker safety documents as an ingredient in dozens of cleaners.  Comet, Pine-Sol and Simple Green.

Birth Defects: Children born to women who held cleaning jobs while pregnant have an elevated risk of birth defects, according to a 2010 study by the New York State Department of Health.

Government agencies and independent research institutions have not adequately evaluated the safety of numerous substances found in cleaning products.  Although government scientific and regulatory agencies have focused considerable attention on chemicals suspected of causing cancer, they have devoted far fewer resources to evaluating substances that may be toxic to the brain and nervous system, the hormone system and other organs.  Investigating the full range of risks of cleaning products to public health and the environment should be an urgent priority. Yet the problem remains largely hidden from the view of the American consumer.

Environmental toxins are a greater cause of cancer than previously believed.
In 2010, the President’s Cancer Panel — an advisory group that considers testimony from several cancer researchers, released a 200-page report, that stated “while much about the long-term effects of exposure to known carcinogens and environmental toxins remains unstudied, what evidence there is suggests that the true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated.”

Melissa Daudelin

Independent Norwex Consultant



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