It might surprise you to learn that the only thing you should smell when something is clean is NOTHING. A home that is both clean and healthy not only has no musty smells from mold, off-odors from pet hair or accumulated dust, but also no added chemical “fragrances” from cleaning products.
It is ironic that many of the household products we depend on for cleaning and keeping our homes healthy actually add harmful chemicals to our indoor air. You may think the smell of lemons, tropical bouquets, ocean breezes, or bleach signals that your home is clean. But really, those scents just “mask” what clean items should smell like!
There’s increasing evidence that daily exposure to hazardous pollutants occurs indoors, often at higher levels than outdoor pollution. And a primary source of these pollutants is everyday consumer products. “Cleaning” your house could be inadvertently exposing your family to harm from synthetic fragrances, hormone disruptors, and even possible carcinogens.
Of the 80,000+ chemicals in active use, only about 3,000 have been individually tested and none of the combinations. Unfortunately, there is no legal requirement for companies to list all the ingredients in a product on its label nor do we know how dangerous compounds are when they are mixed. For example, when cleaning products containing limonene and terpenes react with ordinary ozone they can generate unpredictable, complex, and often unknown reactions.
This “stew” of basic chemicals and unknowable reactions accumulate indoors. Energy-efficient modern homes without sufficient mechanical ventilation are especially efficient traps of these chemicals.
The solution? Natural products such as vinegar, lemon, and baking soda can take the place of many chemical cleaners. You can also choose less-toxic, non-fragranced commercial products (from soaps and laundry detergents to surface and glass cleaners). Read labels. Just because a product has the word “green” or “unscented” on the label, doesn’t mean it is free of chemical.
Still need some help selecting products? Visit the Environmental Working Group Web site, www.ewg.org, for their list of ingredients in common products such as cosmetics, personal care, sunscreen, and others. The US EPA’s Safer Choice program is designed to help you find products that perform and are better for people plus the environment. https://www.epa.gov/saferchoice
Make sure that your hard work keeping a clean house also keeps your family healthy and away from chemical exposures!
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ARE YOU CONCERNED YOUR HOME IS MAKING YOU SICK?
Our guide on indoor quality will help you diagnose possible issues and implement intelligent solutions to improve the quality of the air inside your home.