What’s In Your Cleaning Cabinet?

AIR FRESHENERS: Work by coating your nasal passages with an oil film and/or reduce your ability to smell odors. Often containing Formaldehyde, a highly toxic ingredient, which can irritate eyes, nose, throat, and skin. High exposure can cause nausea, headaches, nosebleeds, dizziness, memory loss and shortness of breath. They may also include Phenol, a skin irritant that can cause swelling, burning, and peeling. High doses of Phenol can also cause cold sweats, convulsions, circulatory collapse, coma, and even death. Most Air Fresheners contain artificial fragrances, which are petroleum based.

ALL-PURPOSE CLEANERS: often contains Propylene Glycol, a chemical that can cause nausea, convulsions, slurred speech, disorientation, and heart and kidney problems if ingested. Ninety percent contain Sodium Laurel (Laureth) Sulfate. Some all-purpose cleaners may contain Sodium Hydroxide (Lye), also found in drain cleaners, stain removers, and bathroom cleaners. A highly reactive chemical, lye can react violently with water and other materials, sometimes generating enough heat to ignite nearby combustible materials. Extremely corrosive to all tissues, especially the eyes as it can cause blindness. Aerosol sprays containing this chemical can also lead to lung injury. Extremely dangerous when coming in contact with skin, mucous membranes, mouth, throat, esophagus and stomach tissues.

AMMONIA: a volatile chemical, commonly found in window cleaners, and some stain removers and detergents. Ammonia can damage your eyes, as well as respiratory tract and cause ski irritation. Ammonia adds nitrogen to the environment, which can damage some ecosystems.

ANTIBACTERIAL CLEANERS: contains Sodium Laurel (Laureth) Sulfate and Triclosan, a chemical that, if absorbed through the skin, may contribute to liver damage. Eliminates good bacteria, and studies suggest bacteria acquires resistance to antimicrobial agents.

CARPET AND UPHOLSTERY SHAMPOO: Highly toxic ingredients include Perchlorethylene, a carcinogen that can damage the liver, kidneys, and nervous system. They also contain Ammonium Hydroxide, which is extremely irritable to eyes, skin and respiratory passages.

CHLORINE BLEACH: a strong corrosive with fumes that can irritate or burn the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract. If ingested, bleach can cause pulmonary edema or vomiting. Extremely dangerous when mixed with ammonia, as the resulting fumes can be deadly.

DISHWASHER DETERGENTS: often contain highly concentrated amounts of chlorine, a leading cause of child poisonings (see Chlorine Bleach). They also contain Sodium Laurel (Laureth) Suflate and phosphates that can cause severe skin irritation, burns and chronic poisoning if inhaled or ingested.

DRAIN CLEANER: often contains Sodium Hydroxide (Lye, see All Purpose Cleaner above), Hydrochloric Acid or Trichloroethane. Hydrochloric Acid is a corrosive element that can irritate skin, and damage kidneys, liver and digestive tracts. Trichloroethane is an eye and skin irritant that can depress the nervous system and damage liver and kidneys.

FURNITURE POLISH: many include Petroleum Distillates, a highly flammable skin irritant, and Phenol (see Air Fresheners). Some also include Nitrobenzene, a toxic material easily absorbed through the skin, or Methyl Chloroform, which can cause skin irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, irregular heartbeat, headache, drowsiness, symptoms of drunkenness, kidney damage, liver damage, convulsions, and even coma. A variety of other petroleum-based solvents may be used that can cause mucous membrane irritation, as well as headache, dizziness, and nausea at higher concentrations.

LAUNDRY ROOM PRODUCTS: contains Sodium Laurel (Laureth) Sulfate, and Sodium or Calcium Hypochlorite, highly corrosive materials that can irritate or burn skin, eyes or respiratory tract. Other chemicals include Linear Alkylate Sulfonate, which can be absorbed through the skin and may cause liver damage, and Sodium Tripolyphosphate, a skin and mucous membrane irritant that can cause vomiting. Liquid detergents may also contain Ethyl Alcohol, which can cause coughing, drowsiness, fatigue, and headaches.

MOLD AND MILDEW CLEANERS: ingredients often include Sodium Hypochlorite, a corrosive material that can irritate or burn skin and eyes. In cases of high exposure, can cause pulmonary edema, which can lead to coma or death. Many such cleaners also contain Formaldehyde (see Air Fresheners).

OVEN CLEANER: contains Sodium Hydroxide (Lye), a strong irritant to skin and eyes; can also inhibit reflexes (see All-Purpose Cleaner).

STAIN REMOVERS: often contain Petroleum Naphtha, a petroleum distillate that can inflame and damage lungs.

TOILET BOWL CLEANERS: may contain Hydrochloric Acid, a highly corrosive irritant to both skin and eyes that can also lead to kidney and liver damage. May also include Hypochlorite Bleach, another corrosive irritant that can burn eyes, skin and respiratory tract. Ingestion can lead to pulmonary edema, vomiting or coma. If combined with other chemicals may result in potentially fatal chlorine fumes. Other products can include Phosphoric Acid, an extremely corrosive material that can cause severe irritation and burns to skin.

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