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Harmful Ingredients in Household Cleaning Products

Your everyday cleaning and laundry products contain a combination of many toxic chemicals.  Rarely will you find an ingredient list on the packaging, because it is not required by Federal Law. This means manufacturers can use toxic chemicals that may cause many health problems; asthma attacks, skin rashes, endocrine disrupters, eye irritation, chemical burns, toxic overload, cancer, to name a few!  You can learn something about a product’s hazard by reading the label.  Most labels will bear a word, such as DANGER, WARNING, POISON or CAUTION, which will indicate the products toxicity.  Eliminating known toxic ingredients from your life style will give you an excellent start in creating a healthier life and a cleaner and safer environment.

#1: Ammonia
Vapors may irritate the skin, eyes, throat, and lungs. Ammonia may also cause kidney and liver damage.  If ammonia is mixed with products containing chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite), highly poisonous chloramine gas is formed.
Found in: window cleaners, drain cleaners, toilet cleaners, bathroom cleaners, oven cleaners, stainless-steel cleaners, car polish, and all-purpose cleaners.


#2: 2-Butoxyethanol
A skin and eye irritant also associated with blood disorders. In laboratory experiments, exposure to high doses of 2-BE has been shown to cause reproductive problems.
Found in: glass cleaners, laundry stain removers, carpet cleaners, automobile cleaners, windshield wiper fluid, degreasers, oven cleaners, and rust removers.


#3: MEA (monoethanalomine), DEA (diethanolamine), TEA (triethanolamine)
Hormone-disrupting chemicals that can form cancer-causing nitrates. A skin, eye and respiratory irritant.
Found in: liquid laundry detergents, all-purpose cleaners, floor cleaners, car wash products, degreasers, dishes soap, oven cleaners, and glass and surface cleaners.


#4: Fragrance chemicals
Many fragrances are irritants and can trigger allergies, migraines, and asthma symptoms. In addition, synthetic musk used in detergents build up in the environment and can be toxic to aquatic organisms. Certain synthetic musk are also suspected endocrine disrupters that mimic or interfere with the function of hormones.
Found in: laundry detergent, fabric softeners, all-purpose cleaners, air-fresheners, and most all types of cleaning products


#5: Phthalates
A common fragrance ingredient in products. Phthalates are suspected endocrine disrupters associated with reproductive effects, including reduced sperm count in men.
Found in: laundry detergents, fabric softeners, deodorizers, glass cleanser, floor polishes, air fresheners


#6: Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs)
Degrade into nonylphenols (NPs), which can mimic the hormone estrogen. In laboratory experiments, NP has been shown to stimulate the growth of human breast cancer cells and cause adverse reproductive effects in fish and other aquatic organisms.
Found in: liquid laundry detergents, stain removers, all-purpose cleaners, air fresheners, toilet bowl cleaners, degreasers, and car wash products.


#7: Phosphates
Environmental hazard causing excessive growth in aquatic plants which leads to the suffocation of fish & underwater life.
Found in: dishwasher detergents, laundry detergents, and bathroom cleaners.


#8: Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (Quats)
Irritant and sensitizer that can induce an allergic response following contact with the skin. Quats are also known to cause occupational asthma in cleaning workers and preliminary evidence indicates they may cause adverse genetic and reproductive effects.
Found in: bathroom cleaning products, all-purpose cleaners, fabric softeners, and degreasers.


#9: Sodium dichloroisocyanurate dehydrate
Corrosive, severe eye, skin and respiratory irritant. It can also form chlorine gas, which will burn the eyes, nose and mouth. Studies have found that high doses of this chemical cause kidney damage.
Found in: toilet bowl cleaners, deodorizers, surface cleaners, and disinfectants


#10: Sodium hydroxide
Highly corrosive; can burn the eyes, skin and lungs and is a respiratory irritant. Long-term exposure in the air may lead to ulceration of the nasal passages and chronic skin irritation.
Found in: oven cleaners, bathroom cleaners, disinfectants, drain openers, and toilet bowl cleaners


#11: Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
SLS and SLEA are detergents that pose serious health threat. Young eyes may not develop properly if expose to SLS or SLES and may damage the skin’s immune system.
Found in: dish soap, liquid laundry detergents, cleaning towelettes, toilet bowl cleaners, garage floor cleaners, engine degreasers, body washes & shampoos


#12: Triclosan
Synthetic antibacterial that is toxic and a suspected endocrine disrupter that can mimic or interfere with the function of hormones. There is concern that its extensive use in consumer products is contributing to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Found in: dish soaps, disinfectants, hand washes, wipes, dental care, toys, etc.


#13: Phenols
Extremely caustic chemical that burns the skin.  Absorption through the lungs or skin can cause central nervous system damage, pneumonia, respiratory problems, kidney and liver damage, numbness, vomiting and a be fatal.
Found in: air fresheners, solvents, detergents, furniture polish, all-purpose cleaners, and aerosol disinfectants.