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What is in Your Household Cleaners

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) published a document Cleaners Hall of Shame uncovering the truth about toxic chemicals found in common household products. Some of the ingredients found in cleaning products are known to cause cancer, blindness, asthma and other serious conditions. Some of the products named in the EWG Cleaners Hall of Shame include:

Simply Green Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner: It's labeled "non-toxic and biodegradable. It contains: 2-butoxyethanol, a solvent absorbed through the skin that damages red blood cells and irritates the eyes. It also contains a secret blend of alcohol ethoxylate surfactants. 

Spic and Span Multi-Surface and Floor Cleaner: It contains nonpylphenol ethoxylate which can disrupt the hormone system, is toxic to aquatic life and persists in the environment.

Scrubbing Bubbles-Antibacterial Cleaner & Extend-A-Clean Mega Shower Foamer: These products contain up to 10% DEGBE also called butoxydiglycol, a solvent banned in the European Union at concentrations above 3% in aerosol cleaners. It can irritate and inflame the lungs.

Mop & Glo Multi-Surface Floor Cleaner: 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."

Clorox, Fantasik, Febreze, Formula 409, Easy-Off Mr.Clean and Spic and Span: Many of these spray cleaners sold under these brand names are laced with quaternary ammonium compounds or ethanolamine, ingredients classified as asthmagens by the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics. These chemicals can trigger asthma attacks and can cause new cases of the disease in people who are asthma-free.

Comet Disinfectant Cleanser Powder: emitted 146 different chemicals, including some thought to cause cance, asthma and reproductive disorders. The most toxic chemicals detected were formaldehyde, benzene, chloroform and toluene.

Frebreze Air Effects: released 89 air contaminants.

Toxic Ingredients in Cleaning Products & Health Risks

Acetone (CSA 67-64-1) This ingredient may cause liver and kidney damage and damage to the developing fetus. Used in scuff removers, spotv treatment cleaners and other products.

Ammonia (CAS 628-63-7)  Skin contact with ammonia can cause burns and eye damage(including blindness) can occur upon contact with eyes This ingredient is an extreme respiratory irritant and reacts with bleach to form poisonous chloramine gas. It can also cause kidney and liver damage. Ammonia has been listed as CEPA-toxic to the marine environmental protection Act (CEPA). It is used in a variety of cleaning products primarily in glass cleaners and hard surface cleaners. It is registered by the EPA as a pesticide.

Amyl acetate (CAS628-63-7) This is a sever skin and respiratory tract irritant that may cause cracking of the skin on prolonged use, It may also cause kidney damage. Used in metal polishes

2-Butoxyethanol (CAS 111-76-2) This ingredient, a common solvent used in cleaning products, may cause liver, kidney and reproductive damage, including damage to the male testes and the developing fetus. It has been listed as CEPA-toxic under the Canadian Protection Act. Used in heavy duty cleaners, floor strippers, rug spotters and decreasers.

Cocamide diethanolamine (CAS 68603-42-9)This ingredient is a suspected carcinogen in the U.S. based upon laboratory experiments conducted under the U.S. national Toxicology Program that determined it caused malignant tumours in mice. Used in all purpose cleaners and machine-dispensed hand soaps.

Cyclohexanol (CAS 108-93-0) A suspected reproductive toxicant, this ingredient may also be a liver, kidney, blodd and neurotoxicant (having toxic effects on the central nervous system). Used in glass and hard surface cleaning products.

Diethanolamine (CAS 111-42-2) This is a liver, kidney, respiratory and neuro-toxicant and may be a skin sensitizer. Used in liquid laundry detergents, dishwashing detergents, floor care, carpet and uphostery cleaning products.

Diethylene glycol monomethyl ether (CAS 111-73-30 This ingredient is a liver, kidney and neuro-toxicant. In laboratory experiments, it has also been shown to affect the reproductive system. Used in glass and rug cleaners, floor care products, grease removers and in pesticide formulations. 

Dibutyl phthalate (CAS 84-74-2) This ingredient is a severe skin irritant and may cause kidney damage and damage to the developin fetus. It is also an "endocrine disruptor" the name given to the group of chemicals that can affect the hormone-producing organs of the body. It is a R-designated substance (reproductive toxicant) on the American Conference of Government Industrial Hygenists list, the reference list used by WorkSafeBC. Used in floor care products and hard surface cleaners.

Ethoxylated nonyl phenol (CAS 9016-45-9) Ethoxylated nonyl phenols or NPEs, are also endocrine disrupters and have been listed as CEPA-toxic. Other CAS numbers for NPEs that commonly occur in cleaning products are 26027-38-3 and 7311-27-5. Used in laundry detergents all purpose cleaners and other products. 

Hydrochloric acid (CAS7467-01-0) A liver and gastrointestinal toxicant, hydrochloric acid is extremely irritating to the lungs and respiratory tract and repeated high exposures may result in chronic damage. Long term exposure may caus yellowing and erosion of the tooth enamel. If splashed, it can cause burns to eyes and skin. Used in toilet bowl cleaners and concrete cleaners. 

Hydroflourosilic acid (CAS 16961-83-4) This ingredient is highly corrosive and irritating and according to the MSDS, prolonged exposure could cause "skin and eye damage, tissue damage, respiratory disorder or lung damage."  Used in laundry sours to reduce the alkalinity of waste water.  

Methyl ethyl ketone (CAS 78-93-3) This is a liver, kidney, skin and reproductive system toxicant. Used in hard surface cleaners and laundry starches. 

Methylene chloride (CAS75-09-2) Also known as dichloromethane, this is a Group 2B carcinogen (possible human carcinogen), according ton the international Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). It can also cause liver and brain damage on inhalation. Used in paint strippers and stain and graffiti removers. 

Naphthalene (CAS 91-20-3) This is a carcinogen listed under California's Proposition 65. It may also cause blood, kidney, liver, gastrointestinal and developmental damage. Used in mothballs and pest repellants.

N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (CAS 872-50-4) Listed as a known reproductive toxicant under California's Proposition 65, this ingredient may also cause liver damage and kidney damage. Used in carpet care products, floor strippers and graffiti wipes.

Paradichlorobenzene (CAS 106-46-7) Known also as p-Dichlorobenzene and 1,4-Dichlorobenzene, this is an IARC 2B carcinogen (possible human carcinogen) and a liver and kidney toxicant. Used in washroom deodorizers and urinal blocks.

Silica (CAS 14808-60;14464-46-1) Often listed as quartz, silica, in the form of respiratory dust,  is an IARC 2B carcinogen (possible human carcinogen). Used in powdered abrasive cleaners. 

Styrene (CAS 100-42-5) This is an IARC 2B carcinogen (possible human carcinogen) a liver, kidney  and reproductive system toxicant. Used in some floor finishes.  

Tetrachloroethylene (CAS127-18-4) Also known as perchloroethylene, this is an IARC 2B carcinogen (possible human carcinogen). Used in furniture polishes and graffiti removers as well as rug and upholstery cleaners.

Trisodium nitrilotriacetate (CAS 18662-53-8; 5064-31-3) This is an IARC 2B carcinogen (possible human carcinogen) and an environment contaminant. Used in carpet treatments and dishwasher detergents.

Toluene (CAS108-88-3) Exposure to this ingrdient may cause liver, kidney and brain damage and damage to the developing fetus. Used in specialty cleaning products such as vandal mark removers.

Trichloroethylene (CAS 79-01-6) This ingredient is an IARC 2B carcinogen (possible human carcinogen) and may cause liver, kidney and respiratory system damage. High exposures can lead to irregular hearbeat, which could be fatal. Used in spot cleaners and degreasers. 



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