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What’s Under Your Sink? Toxic Chemicals in Your Cleaners

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Jessica
04.18.12

Phosphates, bleach and formaldehyde. These are just a few of the dangerous things that inhabit your cleaning cabinet. They may be great for gleaming countertops and sparkling glass, but many cleaning products contain large amounts of toxic chemicals. In fact, an average home contains up to 25 gallons of toxic chemicals, most of which are in store-bought cleaners. These chemicals can aggravate your allergies, poison your pets and wreak havoc on the environment.

Here are three common chemicals found in household cleaners and some all-natural cleaning alternatives.

Bleach

Bleach irritates allergy and asthma symptoms and can endanger pets if they inhale the fumes or mistake it for water. Even worse, if bleach is accidentally mixed with ammonia it creates a poisonous gas. About one-fourth of the calls to poison control centers nationally are related to bleach and household cleaners that contain bleach.

VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)

VOCs are toxic chemicals found in air fresheners, air deodorizers and some citrus and pine oil cleaners. VOCs significantly lower indoor air quality according to the EPA and are linked to respiratory problems. Concentrations of VOCs are up to ten times higher indoors than out, and a big reason for this is cleaning product use.

Phosphates

While phosphates aren’t dangerous to your health, they are dangerous to the environment. Found in most dishwasher and laundry detergents and many all-purpose cleaners, phosphates contribute to a lack of oxygen for fish and aquatic life and endanger fragile ecosystems. Several states have already banned residents from buying cleaning products that have .5% or more of phosphates by weight.

Instead of bringing these chemicals into your home, consider making cleaners with products you already own! Did you know that baking soda, vinegar and lemon can be just as effective as store-bought cleaners? It’s true.

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