Going Green: Toxic Cleaning in Your Home

Published 02/11 2014 02:30PM

Updated 02/11 2014 02:53PM

A special report on toxic cleaning.  One of the worst places for your health could be in your home and you may not realize it.  What you're using to clean your house could be having the opposite effect on your body.

"Some individuals end up wit respiratory problems and they have to be hospitalized because it irritates it so severe."

Most cleaning supplies contain either bleach or ammonia, but there are several other toxic ingredients known to be found in everyday cleaners.  Many of the ingredients contained in over-the-counter cleaning supplies, wouldn't be allowed on an industrial site.  So how are these harmful ingredients acceptable in our own homes?

Vickie Hadley is the Health and Human Science Extension Educator at the Allen County Purdue Extension.
"The key thing is, just realize that on every product that you purchase it's got a label.  Please read the label."

Reading the label is important, but even reading the label doesn't guarantee you're safe.  Many popular household cleaners contain toxic ingredients that are not listed on the label.

For example, according to the EPA's website, law does not require 2-butoxyethanol, the main ingredient in most window cleaners, to be listed on a product's label.

2-butoxyethanol can cause narcosis, pulmonary edema, and severe liver and kidney damage.  Other ingredients such as sodium hydroxide is used in oven cleaners, and is extremely corrosive, causing severe burns if in contact with skin.

"I can share a personal experience myself with using some of the oven cleaners because I already had some damage to my lungs, I cannot use the oven cleaners today without extremely good ventilation, because otherwise it begins to irritate immediately."

Ventilation is important if you are using an kind of chemical because you are releasing a toxic gas into the air, and once these toxins get into your body, they're there to stay.

"That can damage the lungs very very easily and once those are damaged, you're not going to get them back to 100%."

There are several safe alternatives to toxic household cleaning products.  The easiest and most affordable way to sanitize and clean your home is to simply mix baking soda and warm water then apply to surfaces with a clean sponge.

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