GUEST BLOG: A Toxic Free Home is Easier Than You Think!
Published 18 Sep 2018
We all like a clean home. Annually we spend around £350 (per household) (1) on cleaning products to keep our homes clean. What we probably don’t appreciate is that the products we are buying are not necessarily good for our health.
Recent studies (2) have shown that many of the cleaning products we buy contain any number of toxic and hazardous ingredients that may be directly linked to breast cancer, kidney disease, respiratory problems and skin disorders.
One study published in the peer reviewed Environmental Health Journal (3) concluded that women who used cleaning products the most were twice as likely to have breast cancer as those who used them the least.
So should we worry and what can we do about it?
These are some of the most harmful ingredients found in cleaning products:
Synthetic Fragrances typically a mixture of numerous chemicals, many of which have not been evaluated for their safety. Some are suspected of being carcinogenic.
Stabilizers help stabilize the formula for longer shelf life. Examples include ethylene oxide or polyalkylene oxide, linked with eye, skin, and lung irritation, as well as rashes and dermatitis
Surfactants help the product clean better. Examples include sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), which has a long list of health concerns, di-ethanolamine (DEA), linked with eye and skin irritation and formaldehyde releasers.
1,4 dioxane - a by-product of SLS, is an irritant and carcinogen
Bleach is a skin, eye and lung irritant which may form toxic products in wastewater
Phosphates and EDTA soften hard water and help remove grease and dirt. Phosphates have long been associated with environmental damage – especially in waterways – causing algal blooms that cause widespread damage to ecosystems. EDTA, used instead, does not readily break down in the environment and is toxic.
All of these compounds have been linked to a range of health issues or environmental damage. So whilst we clean our home we could also be damaging the health of our families, pets and the environment*4.
So why don’t manufacturers remove these harmful ingredients?
Many manufacturers have removed some of the more hazardous ingredients, but by no means all. You see, the issue at the heart of this is cost. Many of these nasty ingredients are very cheap. In addition, when these ‘active’ ingredients are reduced or removed altogether, the product no longer performs as it used to and so the public have gained the false perception that less toxic products (so called ‘green’) do not perform as well. And lastly, the public seem to prefer brands they recognise or cheaper products – therefore, either the most well-known or the cheapest brands are purchased.
How can I avoid these ingredients in my products?
Over recent years, great advances have been made in producing cleaning products that are made from plant extract surfactants and biodegradable ingredients. Better still, they don’t contain any perfumes at all.
It’s worth checking the labels on your current products. If they have warning pictograms on them – ask yourself why? Here are the standard COSSH Warning Symbols and what they actually mean. From the table we can see what each of the pictograms mean.
Some are very toxic and hazardous and therefore dangerous for our children and pets.
The majority of safer, more ethical products may have the exclamation mark (‘Warning’). This has to be present depending on whether the product may cause skin irritation or eye irritation.
Written by Brent Dunleavey, Founder – ECO3 Cleaning Products.
ECO.3 – has been rated the No.1 Rated Ethical Cleaning Products by The Good Shopping Guide and are registered with The Vegan Society and are not tested on any animals, or have any animal derived ingredients in our formulations.
Breast Cancer UK and ECO.3 are working together to promote the use of safe and non-toxic cleaning products in the home and reduce the incidence of breast cancer and other illnesses due to exposure to toxic cleaning products.
Special promotion available to Breast Cancer UK supporters - a 10% discount on all purchases of ECO.3 products from their online shop and what’s more ECO.3 contribute a share of profits directly to support our work to prevent breast cancer. Find out more about ECO3 products here. You will need to enter the following code when you get to the checkout, which gives you your discount and tags your purchase to supporting Breast Cancer UK.
Breast Cancer UK does not endorse any products or any opinions expressed by our guest bloggers. The blogs are the personal opinions and endorsements of the blogger and not necessarily reflective of Breast Cancer UK views. If you have questions about the blog, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. ECO3 estimates that the average household spends £350 per year on cleaning products, based on their use of dishwasher tabs, oven cleaners, car cleaning and polishing products, caravan cleaning, and standard cleaning materials (for more information see ONS statistics for household spending).