Cleaning Products Emit Unhealthy Toxins

Cleaning Products Emit Unhealthy Toxins

Everyday Products May Release Hazardous Compounds, Study Finds

Cleaning Products

Cleaning and air freshening products that are used on a daily basis may release hundreds of hazardous volatile organic compounds (VOCs), warns a new study conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The analysis revealed that both conventional and “green” products emitted VOCs, although the green cleaners had fewer of them.

The research conducted by Alexis Temkin, a senior toxicologist at the EWG, serves as a wake-up call for consumers, researchers, and regulators to be more aware of the potential risks associated with the chemicals in our indoor air. The study’s findings emphasize the importance of selecting “green” products, especially those that are both “green” and “fragrance-free,” to reduce exposure to hazardous VOCs.

In the study, 30 cleaning products were tested, including multipurpose cleaners, glass cleaners, and air fresheners. The analysis detected a total of 530 unique VOCs, with 193 having the potential to cause health issues such as respiratory system damage, increased cancer risk, and developmental and reproductive problems.

VOCs not only affect outdoor air but also have a much greater impact indoors. The study reveals that VOCs have two to five times more impact on indoor air compared to outdoor air, and potentially up to 10 times more. Some products continue to emit VOCs for days, weeks, or even months.

On average, the green-labeled products emitted about half as many VOCs as conventional cleaners. Fragrance-free products emitted nearly eight times fewer VOCs than conventional cleaners and four times less than green products containing fragrance.

Green fragrance-free products contained four hazardous chemicals, while green products with fragrance contained about 15, and conventional products contained 22. These numbers highlight the importance of choosing fragrance-free options to minimize potential health risks.

The impact of VOCs is particularly concerning for those working in the cleaning industry. According to the EWG, individuals in this industry have a 50% higher risk of asthma, a 43% higher risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and women in the industry have a greater risk of lung cancer.

Furthermore, the use of certain indoor cleaners has shown to affect fetuses and infants, leading to a greater risk of asthma and wheezing in childhood.

“These cleaning products may hurt our health, but they may also harm the environment,” warns Samara Geller, senior director of cleaning science at EWG. VOCs from consumer products contribute to about half of the air pollution caused by VOCs, as reported in a 2018 study.

Opting for green cleaning products is a simple way to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals and is especially important for the health of women and children. By making conscious choices, individuals can contribute to their own health and the well-being of the environment.

Responding to the study, the American Cleaning Institute stated that the findings need to be considered in the context of the changes that manufacturers have made in these products over the past three decades. The institute emphasizes that the proper use of cleaning products is essential for public health and quality of life.

The study’s findings were published in the journal Chemosphere on September 13, 2023.

What are bed bugs?

Bed Bugs

QUESTION: What are bed bugs?

Answer: Bed bugs are small, parasitic insects that feed on the blood of humans and animals, typically at night when they are asleep. They are oval-shaped and can hide in tiny cracks and crevices, such as the seams of mattresses, sheets, and furniture. Bed bug bites often cause itchy red welts on the skin.

For more information on the impact of volatile organic compounds on indoor air quality, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

Sources: – Environmental Working Group, news release, Sept. 13, 2023 – American Cleaning Institute statement to CBS News, Sept. 13, 2023