Home Clean Home

Are you aware that there are many toxins lurking in your home? I wasn’t, until my family moved into our new home. We were told by a contractor not to use harsh toxic cleaning products on our granite countertop or it would strip the sealer that covers the top of it.

I began to question why I would use something safe on the countertop and not care about the other all purpose cleaners, disinfectants, detergents, creams and soap products I use in the presence of my four precious children. Shouldn’t I be concerned with the other areas of my home that my family spends countless hours together in that have been cleaned with these harsh toxic chemicals? What if they were to breathe in these vapors or have their skin be exposed to these ingredients?

All of this and more became most disturbing to me. With further research I found that the most current scientific data links many health concerns, conditions and diseases to the use of everyday household products that people use to wash, shower, shave, clean and do laundry. We are actually poisoning ourselves via ingestion of these products, i.e., children accidentally tasting a capful of dishwashing detergent. Inhalation (breathing in the vapors), is the highest form of exposure for household poisoning. According to Environmental Health Perspectives, “Childhood asthma has increased more than 400% since 1980.” Absorption through the skin is another form of poisoning. Our skin can absorb whatever we put it in contact with for a period of time. Consider the patch technology in which drugs can be absorbed into our skin.

Products that can contain toxic chemicals are products such as dishwashing detergents, household cleaners, disinfectants, deodorizers, air fresheners, furniture polish, oven cleaners, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, bleach products, mold and mildew cleaners and shampoos. The product information below comes from actual manufacturer’s MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) and National Poison Control Centers.

  • Automatic dishwashing liquid contains ethyl alcohol, bleach and heavy fragrances. Vapors can cause central nervous system depression, nausea, lung irritation and in severe cases, coma and death.
  • Bleach vapors have been shown to interfere with brain function, aggravate heart conditions and asthma. Suspected to affect reproductive system.
  • Disinfectant and all purpose cleaners contain phenol, 2 butoxy ethanol, and formaldehyde. Short term effects could irritate lungs, mild to moderate damage to eyes; Long term linked to cancer, reproductive disorders, kidney and liver damage. Can cause chronic lung irritation.
  • Drain cleaner contains bleach, lye. Vapors can cause central nervous system depression, aggravate heart conditions, asthma and bronchitis.
  • Window cleaner contains ammonia and 2 butoxy ethanol which are linked to reproductive disorders, kidney damage, liver damage, bone marrow, and tumors.
  • Aerosol hair spray contains propane and butane. Long-term exposure can lead to central nervous system depression, headaches, dizziness, stupor, chronic lung irritation.
  • Cosmetics contain formaldehyde as a preservative, which had been identified as a possible human carcinogen. Many cosmetic products are untested and unregulated. Use extreme caution.
  • Mouthwash contains formaldehyde, ethyl alcohol which can cause central nervous system depression.
  • Perfumes and cologne contain formaldehyde, toluene and petroleum distillates which can depress the central nervous system, cause cancer, and cause chronic irritation of the lungs and skins.

How could companies and products that I have been loyal to and trusted all my life put these toxic ingredients into their products? Having a large family, spending many hours cooking, cleaning and living in our home I was determined to find a safer alternative. It is there. Just as patients in a hospital must be knowledgeable about their own care, as consumers, we must become knowledgeable of what we bring into our homes. Although people are living longer lives, it is the quality of life in which you live that should be of concern. If you are exposing yourself and family to these harsh toxic chemicals you are lowering the quality of your health and vitality. We have a responsibility to educate ourselves about what we have been unknowingly exposing ourselves to.

Elizabeth Silk, RN, is a healthy home consultant. As the busy mother of 4 children, she has a passion for nutritional health and home environment product safety and awareness. She can be reached at 781-454-9056 or elizabethsilk@iglide.net.