The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization focused on environment and public health, recently came out with their Cleaners Hall of Shame list. With products containing carcinogens, asthma instigators, and poisons, some sparkly cleaners might come at a high price.
According to the press release:
Just 7 percent of cleaning products adequately disclosed their contents. To uncover what’s in common household cleaners, EWG’s staff scientists spent 14 months scouring product labels and digging through company websites and technical documents. EWG staff reviewed each ingredient against 15 U.S. and international toxicity databases and numerous scientific and medical journals.
According to the EWG study, 53 percent of cleaning products under review contained lung-harming ingredients. In addition, well-known carcinogens like formaldehyde and chloroform were found in several cleaners.
However, EWG does suggest some cleaners that are better for your health and the environment, such as Green Shield Organic and Whole Foods’ Green Mission brand. Don’t be fooled by "green" labels though, since other eco-friendly products can be misleading with their claims.
In an effort to minimize the negative effects of some chemical cleaners, common household items can often be great substitutes, Real Simple Magazine suggests. Lemon, cooking oil, vinegar and baking soda are just a few multipurpose cleaning items you may find in your closet.
If you opt to use store-bought cleaners, know your products. Below is a portion of EWG’s list of cleaners that found a place in the Cleaners Hall of Shame. Some products are potentially fatal if inhaled or swallowed, some are reportedly made with knowingly high-hazard ingredients, and others utilize materials that have actually been banned in other countries.
To learn more about the impacts of chemical cleaners and to view the full lists, visit the EWG's Guide to Healthy Cleaning.
List and photos courtesy of EWG.
2000 Flushes And X-14 Toilet Bowl Cleaners
<a href="http://www.ewg.org/" target="_hplink">List and captions courtesy of EWG</a>. <em>Fatal If Swallowed</em> These chlorine-laden discs don't harm plumbing or septic systems, but according to the label they "may be fatal if swallowed." The boxes warn customers to wear rubber gloves when handling, hold the disc away from the face and avoid inhaling the fumes. A pet could confuse a disc with a plastic chew toy.
Lysol Disinfectant Power Toilet Bowl Cleaner With Lime & Rust Remover
<em>Fatal If Swallowed</em> This corrosive acid concoction kills bacteria but is also labeled "harmful or fatal if swallowed." The cleaner's child-proof cap is an important safety feature. The label warns not to squeeze the container when opening and to wear safety goggles. A bit of this acid in the eye can cause "irreversible damage."
Glade, Air Wick, Spot Shot
<em>Fatal If Inhaled</em> <strong>Glade</strong> air freshener sprays warn that "intentional misuse by deliberately concentrating and inhaling the contents can be harmful or fatal." <strong>Air Wick</strong> automatic air fresheners and old English furniture polish carry the same warning. <strong>Spot Shot</strong> carpet stain remover warns that "inhalation abuse of aerosol products may be harmful or fatal.
Ajax, Dynamo And Fab Ultra Liquid Laundry Detergents (Phoenix Brands)
<em>High-Hazard Ingredients</em> These contain formaldehyde, also known as formalin, classified as a known human carcinogen by the U.S. government and World Health Organization. Formaldehyde can cause asthma and allergies. The company divulges the presence of formaldehyde in the product only on technical disclosures for workers.
Tarn-X Tarnish Remover
<em>High-Hazard Ingredients</em> This "Wipe & Rinse" product contains up to 7 percent thiourea, a chemical classified as a carcinogen by the state of California. The company's technical information for workers says "prolonged or repeated exposure may cause reproductive and fetal effects."
Hagerty Liquid Jewel Clean
<em>High-Hazard Ingredients</em> It contains perchloroethylene, a toxic solvent classified as "probably carcinogenic to humans" by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Spic And Span Multi-Surface And Floor Cleaner
<em>Banned Abroad</em> This product contains nonylphenol ethoxylate, which the state of California has banned in cleaning products manufactured after 2012. Products containing this chemical cannot be sold in the European Union. It breaks down to nonylphenol, which can disrupt the hormone system, is toxic to aquatic life and persists in the environment.
Scrubbing Bubbles - Antibacterial Bathroom Cleaner & Extend-A-Clean Mega Shower Foamer
<em>Banned Abroad</em> These products contain up to 10 percent DEGBE, also called butoxydiglycol, a solvent banned in the European Union at concentrations above 3 percent in aerosol cleaners. It can irritate and inflame the lungs.
Mop & Glo Multi-Surface Floor Cleaner
<em>Banned Abroad</em> It contains DEGME, also called methoxydiglycol, at up to 15 times the concentration allowed in cleaners sold in the European Union. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe says DEGME is "suspected of damaging the unborn child."
DampRid mildew Stain Remover Plus Blocker
<em>Banned Abroad</em> It may contain up to 10 percent of a hazardous solvent called 2-butoxyethanol. Canada caps this chemical's use in non-aerosol cleaners at 6 percent. It also contains nonylphenol ethoxylate, prohibited in cleaners sold in the E.U.
EASY-Off Fume Free Oven Cleaner
<em>Banned Abroad</em> This spray contains 5 to 10 percent DEGBE. The E.U. bars concentrations of DEGBE greater than 3 percent because it can harm the lungs.