Chemical sensitivities have been tied to a number of childhood abnormalities, from behavioral issues and over-all temperament to skin disorders and chronic allergies. According to the American Lung Association, chemical exposure in the home can also lead to asthma and even lung disease. The threat of chemical exposure in the home is very real and can affect children and adults alike.
Things that might make your child more susceptible to chemical toxicity include genetics, a compromised immune system, lower metabolism, nutritional issues, and stress. Oftentimes, symptoms will arise that are difficult for medical professionals to diagnose and these may be indicative of chemical sensitivities. Unfortunately, chemical sensitivity is not fully understood by the medical community because it is difficult to replicate the symptoms in a laboratory environment and chemical sensitivity manifests in a myriad of ways.
If you suspect that your child may be suffering from chemical sensitivities, it is vital that you limit their exposure to chemicals in the home. Thankfully, this is not as difficult as it sounds and simply requires some mindfulness and small changes to one’s lifestyle.
There are 5 primary areas we are most exposed to chemicals in our home – via cleaning agents, air, water, food, and toiletries. In this article, we will discuss the first: toxic household cleaning agents.
Toxic House Hold Cleaning Agents
Household cleaners are the most common sources of harsh, toxic chemicals in the home. Some of the most common toxic chemicals in the home include:
Butyl cellosolve: A common component of popular all-purpose and window cleaners that has been linked to bone marrow, nervous system, kidney and liver damage.
Chlorinated phenols: A common toilet bowl cleaner that has been linked to respiratory and circulatory system damage.
Diethylene glycol: A common window cleaning agent believed to depress the nervous system.
Phenols: A common disinfectant that has been linked to respiratory and circulatory system issues.
Nonylphenol ethoxylate: A common chemical found in laundry detergents and all-purpose cleaners that are currently banned in Europe because it biodegrades into increasingly more toxic compounds.
Formaldehyde: A preservative often used in deodorizers that is a respiratory irritant and possible carcinogen.
Petroleum solvents: These petroleum derivatives are used in floor cleaners and are linked to mucous membrane damage, which in turn compromises the immune system.
Perchloroethylene: Commonly found in spot removers, these toxic compounds have been linked to both liver and kidney damage.
On top of all these chemicals, many cleaning agents are also antibacterial, killing off the naturally occurring beneficial bacteria in your home’s ecosystem. There is also a myriad of artificial scents added to these products that have detrimental effects to air quality and the people and pets where these are used. The result is a dangerous, toxic, out-of-wack ecosystem… right in your home.
It is interesting to note that there are no cleaning products on the market that lack some type of antibacterial agent (anti-fungal and anti-microbial preservatives). As it stands, in 2017, the only cleaning products that will not have some sort of preservative is something that you make on your own! The most commonly known homemade cleaning product is vinegar. At strong concentrations, about 5 times stronger than what is purchased at a grocery store, vinegar has antibacterial properties. A “safe” antibacterial product to use at home would be EverClear, almost pure alcohol, or isopropyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. These would be in non-diluted form. They aren’t 100% safe because of their flammability and/or toxicity to humans and animals if consumed in mild or high doses. Essential oils are touted for all their antimicrobial properties as well…in concentrated form as well. However, many of these products used in their concentrated forms are so strong they too can cause headaches and nausea due to exposure.
Rather than introducing these toxic compounds and killing off the beneficial bacteria in your home space, how about making a probiotic to clean and purify your home environment, returning it to a healthy, non-toxic state? Probiotic products like EM-1 (yes, the same product you use in your garden!) work exceedingly well on biologically based odors, like those found in your sink, bathtub, toilet, and even the litter box. In fact, EM-1 is more effective than any toxic chemical when it comes to neutralizing animal related smells because the beneficial bacteria actually break down the organic compounds rather than simply masking the odor. And, EM-1 has also been shown to suppress the growth of several pathogenic microbes including Salmonella, E. coli, MRSA, and more…at diluted rates! Try making your own safe air freshener and cleaner.
Mix the following in a 32oz spray bottle and use within 1 week after mixing:
2oz EM-1 Microbial Inoculant
1/4 tsp Essential Oil (mint oils work great)
1 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar
Fill a bottle with water
This solution is great for any hard surface such as glass, wood, tile, or metal. It will not only clean, but it can also be used as an air freshener as well.
Eric Lancaster is Executive Vice President of TeraGanix, Inc., the exclusive North America distributor of Effective Microorganisms® and EM® Bokashi products. He is the technical expert on Effective Microorganisms® for the US market. Please visit www.TeraGanix.com for more information.