Buyer Beware: Dangerous Household Product Ingredients

Do you know what dangers could be lurking under your kitchen sink, bathroom, or laundry shelf? If you are buying the “leading brand” products commonly found in ads, you may be exposing your family to chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, skin and eye irritation, and more. Maybe you have heard this news and now buy products labeled as “green” or “natural”. Unlike the food industry, which is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to list ingredients, manufacturers of cleaning products are not required by the U.S. government to identify ingredients on labels, placing consumers at risk. Even when ingredients are listed, do you know what to look for?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), toxic chemicals found in every home are three times more likely to cause cancer than airborne pollutants found outside. In a 2005 study, just by testing teaspoon-sized samples of blood or urine, the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found hundreds of chemicals building up in human bodies. Another study conducted by consumer-product advocates, the Environmental Working Group, reported numerous chemicals found in the umbilical-cord blood of newborns.

Below are a few dangerous ingredients to beware of that may be lurking in your household products:

Ammonia
· Vapors cause irritation to eyes, mucous membranes, and respiratory tract

· Contact with skin can cause burns and blisters

· Extensive systemic absorption could result in convulsions, muscle spasms, blindness, lung damage, coma, and/or death

· Breathing difficulty, wheezing, chest pains, and pulmonary edema can occur

· Commonly used in metal polishes and household cleansing products

Bleach (sodium hypochlorite)
· It has a pronounced irritant effect on the skin and eyes

· If ingested, may cause pain, vomiting, hemorrhage, coma, or death

· Exposure to drain and sanitary cleansing vapors containing sodium hypochlorite and sodium hydroxide may provoke acute, reversible toxic alopecia (hair loss)

· Commonly found in household cleaning and maintenance products

· If mixed with ammonia, it can create chloramine gas, another toxic substance


Formaldehyde
· A probable human carcinogen (cancer causing substance)

· May cause eyes, nose, and throat irritation

· Commonly used in household spray deodorizers, detergents, hand and body soaps, and pet care products

2-butoxyethanol (ethylene glycol mono-n- butyl ether)
· Skin and eye irritant

· Exposure of chemical most likely from inhalation and skin absorption

· May cause may cause blood disorders, as well damage to the central nervous system, kidneys and liver at higher exposure concentrations

· Used widely as a solvent in surface coatings, such as spray lacquers, quick dry lacquers, enamels, varnishes, varnish removers and latex paint

· Also found in deodorizing products, cleaning products and is as an insecticide for moth control

· A possible human carcinogen


Trisodium nitrilotriacetate
· Nitrilotriacetic acid and its salts are possibly carcinogenic in humans

· Irritating to eyes, nose, and throat

· Used as a builder in laundry detergents and also has an adverse environmental impact as it can impede the elimination of metals in wastewater treatment plants

Toluene
· Potent reproductive toxin that may cause harm to the developing fetus

· Vapors cause irritation to eyes

· May cause coma or sudden death to “sniffers”

· Used as a solvent in numerous products, including paints, furniture polish, and sealers


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Sources:

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Household Products Database

Environmental Working Group

U.S. Environmental Protection AgencyCenters for Disease Control and Prevention

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