Have you ever thought about chemicals in cleaning products? A new study has shown that they can be as harmful to the lungs as smoking a pack of cigarettes every day. So who are the worst and what are the alternatives?
These days, the origin of food and the chemical overload of beauty products are high on our radars. But what about the products we use to clean our homes? Allergy UK says that one in three people in Britain suffers from allergies or asthma and 25% of these people are affected by chemicals in household cleaning products.
A recent study by the University of Bergen in Norway published in American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine followed over 6,000 people over 20 years and found women working as cleaners or regularly using cleaning products. a decline in lung function comparable to smoking 20 cigarettes a day over 10 to 20 years.
The study found that lung capacity decreased by 4.3 ml per year faster in women who cleaned at home and 7.1 ml per year faster if they were working as cleaners. Asthma was also more prevalent but, interestingly, the men who cleaned up did not show a similar decline.
The main author of the study, Øistein Svanes, in the Department of Clinical Sciences made the following observations: "People who worked as cleaners or did housework for 20 years have reduced lung function: smoking 20 cigarettes a day during the same period. "
Prof. Cecile Svanes, who also worked on the study, said that cleaning sprays are the main problem: "Cleaning chemicals most likely cause quite significant damage to your lungs. The small particles of sprays can stay in the air for hours after cleaning and they penetrate deep into the lungs and cause infections and aging of the lungs. "
It is believed that the chemicals contained in cleaning products irritate the fragile mucous membrane lining the lungs, which, over time, permanently damages the airways. Soap and water are highly recommended by Svanes to reduce chemical particles in the air. & # 39; Microfiber fabrics can be just as effective, she says.
Fortunately, it is now easier than ever to do housework, clean the house and do no harm to our health. Herbal formulas are very effective and are just as effective as traditional cleaning products loaded with ingredients that can damage the lungs.
Although we can not completely avoid exposure to chemicals, it is possible to reduce what experts call our toxic load by choosing alternatives wherever possible, especially over a long period of time. of time. Here is a list of common toxic chemicals in cleaning products and our recommendations for less harmful alternatives to keep your home clean and healthy.
IN YOUR: perfume, kitchen cleaner, air freshener and children's toys
Definition of Phthalates: A common ingredient used to soften and add suppleness to other ingredients such as plastics.
Results: One of the most commonly used ingredients in thousands of products ranging from home cleaning, personal care, fragrances and children's products to medical devices, DIY and car manufacturing. The list is vast and infinite.
Health Risks: A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Harvard School of Public Health pointed to phthalates in men suffering from 39, a reduction in the number of spermatozoa.
a few drops of lavender essential oil in the laundry drawer.
IN YOUR: hand sanitizer, hand soap, toothpaste and deodorant
What is triclosan: Triclosan and triclocarban are usually used as antimicrobials in cleaning products.
Results: Antibacterial hand gels, dentifrices, mouthwashes, deodorants, cosmetics and hand soaps.
Tea Tree Oil – Mix a few drops of tea tree oil and a tablespoon of vinegar with water in a spray bottle and you have an all purpose cleaner without the cost to the health or the planet. For a ready-made, more beautiful version, try Method Hand Soaps .
IN YOUR: toilet cleaner, bathroom cleaner, multipurpose spray and hair dye
What is ammonia: A cleaning solution used for household and industrial products.
Results: Ammonia and chlorine do the dirty work in toilet and bathroom cleaners.
Health Hazards: A study has shown the use of cleaning products containing ammonia concentrations of 3% or more (standard concentrations in the Household cleaning products are 5 to 10%) Ventilated areas have been shown to lead to potentially hazardous exposures over occupational exposure limits. Authors of the study on the lungs of the University of Bergen declared that "ammonia and bleach used during home cleaning could cause changes in lung tissue and an accelerated decline in lung health. "
Baking soda Bob's Red Mill £ 5.44.
IN YOUR: softener, air freshener and disinfectants
QUATERNARY AMMONIUM COMPOUNDS
What are the quaternary ammonium compounds: are used as disinfectants and surfactants in domestic and medical settings.
Results: Softener and household cleaners labeled antibacterial and shampoos.
Health Hazards: Quaternary ammonium compounds have been cited in the University of Bergen study as having a "sensitizing and irritating effect" on pulmonary airways. As antimicrobials, they also pose problems similar to triclosan (see above) in terms of bacterial resistance . According to experts the long-term use is also a suspected cause of contact dermatitis and respiratory problems such as asthma.
such as Attitude (£ 4.55 for 1000ml) for its softer approach to the use of chemicals.
IN YOUR: Window Cleaner, Glass Cleaner and Multipurpose Spray
What is 2-Butoxyethanol: A solvent used to remove dirt more easily, so you put less elbow grease.
Results: Glass and window cleaners and multi-purpose sprays.
Health Hazards: The law does not prescribe 2-butoxyethanol on a label but may enter your body by breathing in vapors that cause sore throat. It is also associated with asthma and allergies.
Earth Friendly Products Window Cleaner (£ 3.57 for 500ml) for a natural formula made from vinegar and coconut oil.
IN YOUR: hand wash, shampoo, face wash and dishwashing liquid
Definition of sulfates: Sulphates are mainly cleaning agents and detergents which also give the products a foaming effect. They consist of molecules that can attract both water and oil, allowing the product to break down grease and dirt, then rinse and wash them. There are three sulphates commonly used in cleaning products: sodium laureth sulphate (SLES), sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) or laureth ammonium sulphate (ALS).
Results: classic foaming formulas, shampoo, dishwashing liquid, hand soap and facial cleanser
Health Hazards: Aside from alarmist stories irritation is the key issue of sulfates. Common complaints for sensitive skin include itching and irritation. Another disadvantage is their drying effect; Beauty geeks can avoid sulfates in shampoos and wash their faces for this reason. Basically, they are so good at removing dirt that they can strip the natural oils of skin and hair.
Permute with: The brands are either sulfate-free or with milder versions such as sodium cocoamphoacetate, cocamidopropyl betaine, lauryl glucoside, coco glucoside, disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, disodium lauroamphodiacetate lists.