By Britney Coulson · 3 min read
Have you become more hygiene conscious since the pandemic? Have you found yourself mid-spray wondering how much is too much?
You’re not alone. Since the pandemic, consumers are cleaning more often than ever to keep germs out of their life. While each spray and wipe may feel satisfying, the excessive use of popular chemical household products can harm your family. Although we think we are protecting our homes, we are in fact weakening our immune systems and making ourselves more prone to falling ill.
COVID cleaning and your health
Across the world, calls to poison and emergency centres reporting exposures to chemical cleaners, hand sanitisers and disinfectants have skyrocketed since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. These products are recognized as an emerging hazard to consumer’s health and safety.
In fact, in a 2020 US survey (1), over 25% of adults reported experiencing an adverse health effect from the use of cleaners or disinfectants. That’s 1 in 4 people who have been harmed already by cleaning products.
We all want our homes to be clean and free of germs so we can live in a safe and healthy environment. In the quest for a clean and fragrant home, we regularly expose ourselves to a combination of harsh chemicals by wiping them on our surfaces and release them into the air we breathe.
Put your spray and wipe down right now
Shockingly, common cleaning products, sanitisers, disinfectants, and air fresheners are creating a toxic home environment (2). If we continue to use products like these daily, we can impact our family’s health and potentially cause illness.
Worst of all, spray by spray we may be reducing our own quality of life and life expectancy.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. Household products manufacturers aren’t required by regulation to reveal a full list of ingredients (2) on their packaging and tell us about the toxic chemicals in use. Without transparency, many people are unaware of the existence and impact of these harmful chemicals to their life.
Among the most toxic household products are drain, oven, toilet-bowl cleaners, stain, mould and mildew removers, bleach and chemical disinfectants, and air fresheners. Even seemingly benign products, such as hand sanitiser, floor cleaner, multi-purpose cleaner and dish detergent can contain toxic chemicals.
Have you ever felt a headache after using cleaning products?
Chemical-laden cleaning and disinfection products can cause a tonne of short term or immediate health problems. Among the list are headaches, dizziness, allergies, skin, eyes, nose, throat and lungs irritation, asthma attacks and respiratory problems.
According to the Government of Canada, some cleaners also contain known or suspected carcinogens, neurotoxins, reproductive system toxins and hormone disruptors. They explain the dangers of usage (3) and warn how such products can cause organ damage, weaken immune system, fertility issues, birth defects, weight problems and impair children’s development. The big concern is when we are exposed to them in combination, as it creates a harmful toxin build-up called bioaccumulation that can contribute to chronic diseases and cancers.
How exactly do these products cause us harm?
When used, these products release toxic fumes and leave behind harmful residues on cleaned surfaces. As a result, it triggers volatile organic compounds (4) (VOCs) emission that impact respiratory health and contribute to serious indoor air pollution.
Adults, children, and pets are all at risk from these products. We have all had a time where the smell of a chemical product has made us grimace – right?
Yet we continue to nonchalantly use products that advise us to wear gloves, avoid contact with eyes and skin, and not breathe in the fumes. How sustainable is it to always wear PPE while cleaning and what happens if we forget?
Is it worth the risk to keep using these products so often?
Here are some facts that fly under the radar for consumers:
- cleaners remove dirt and grime, but they don’t kill germs.
- disinfectants can contain health hazardous pesticides and potent toxics.
- sanitisers can kill germs and bacteria but not intended to eliminate viruses.
Most consumers aren’t aware that industrial and commercial grade disinfectants (usually pack in bulk volume of 10 or 20 litres) are not intended or suitable for family indoor application. These disinfectants can contain high level of hazardous pesticides and potent toxic chemicals that will linger on surfaces and the air for a long time which will do more harm than help if use in family environment.
Protect your children
Cleaning can sometimes feel like a full-time job. Each night after dinner we have to wipe down our benches, sweep our floors or mop up spilt spaghetti. We can actually spend up to approximately four years of our lives cleaning, so choosing the right cleaning and disinfection products to use in your family is extremely important.
While the goal in cleaning our homes is to remove dirt and contaminants, ironically, we often end up replacing them with allergens, irritants, toxic residues, and poisons (5).
Children are particularly vulnerable. Due to their smaller size and weight, and because their vital organs are still developing, children have a reduced ability to eliminate toxins (6) from their bodies. This puts them at a greater risk of impaired development from these toxins and can negatively affect their mental, intellectual, physical, and emotional development.
Make a small change and make a massive difference
Rest assured – it’s not all bad!
There are better alternatives (7) to conventional chemical cleaning products and the best way to keep your family safe is to opt for natural, non-toxic and effective products wherever possible.
By making a conscious choice, you can have a fresh and clean home without harming your family’s health.