Is Your Family In Danger Because of Personal Care Products?
One year ago, I had no idea the danger I was exposing my children to. I assumed that cleaning products and personal care products were safe- after all, they are used to clean my home and my body- doesn't clean mean safe? I thought so, and I trusted that if the products were dangerous that the manufacturer would warn me. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Most brand name cleaning and personal care products contain chemicals that are poisoning our families- and we don't even know about it.
The personal care and cleaning products we use on a daily basis are causing central nervous system disorders, learning disorders, birth defects, respiratory illness, cancer, and even death. Using Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), which are required warnings for chemicals used in the workplace, and based on examination of many grocery store brands, chemicals in the following products cause the listed health problems (possible health effects do not apply to every single brand):
Air freshener - toxic; may cause cancer; irritates nose, throat, and lungs
Disinfectant - very toxic; causes skin, throat, and lung burns; causes coma
Window cleaner - toxic; causes CNS disorders; causes liver and kidney disorders
Furniture polish - toxic; causes CNS disorders; may cause lung cancer
All-purpose cleaner - causes eye damage; irritates nose, throat, and lungs
Dishwasher detergent - toxic; causes eye injuries, damage to mucous membranes, and throat
Laundry detergent - toxic; irritates the skin and lungs
Bleach - toxic by swallowing; vapors are harmful; causes CNS disorders
Fabric softener - toxic; may cause cancer; causes CNS disorders; causes liver damage
This is only a partial list of the dangers in most name brand cleaners. What about personal care products? Some chemicals in these products cause the following problems:
Shampoo - may cause cancer; irritates eyes, skin, and lungs
Deodorant soap - may cause cancer; causes asthma; irritates lungs
Bubble bath - causes bladder and kidney infections; irritates skin and nose
Hair spray - may cause cancer; causes lung disease; irritates eyes and skin
Cosmetics - may cause cancer; causes CNS damage; irritates skin and lungs
These problems are not only caused by ingestion, they can also occur if inhaled or absorbed into the skin. In fact, it may surprise you to know that poisoning by inhalation is more common, and can be much more harmful, than ingestion. When something harmful is swallowed, the stomach actually begins breaking down and neutralizing the poison before it is absorbed into the bloodstream. However, when you inhale toxic fumes, the poisons go directly into the bloodstream and quickly travel to organs like the brain, heart, liver, and kidneys.
What does this mean for our children? Children have a higher respiratory rate than adults, therefore they inhale three times the amount of contaminates. But, because their systems aren't fully developed, they can't filter toxins as adults do. We are just beginning to see how toxins in children's lives are taking a toll. We have a higher rate of children with cancer and learning disabilities than ever before. Many doctors and scientists believe that this increase in illness can be contributed to our indoor environments- where we spend 80%-90% of our time.
I used to think that if I locked my cleaning supplies away, there wasn't a danger to my kids. Unfortunately, locking up products is not enough. Every spray, every wipe leaves fumes and residue that our families are inhaling and touching, sometimes even ingesting, and it's making them sick. In the very worst cases, it's causing death.
Have you heard about one-year-old Peter of Seattle? He crawled over to the dishwasher to watch his mother unload it. Suddenly, he put his finger into the detergent dispensing cup and ate a fingerful of wet, but undissolved, detergent. In minutes his face was red and blistered, and the inside of his mouth and his tongue were burned white. He was rushed to the hospital and, fortunately, recovered in a few days. However, across the hall from Peter's room (according to Peter's mom) a little girl had eaten some dish-washing detergent and required 7 operations to reopen her scarred esophagus. Or how about the 18-month-old boy who had to eat through tubes for five months and endured 30 operations. The culprit? Detergent. Or what about three-year-old Jason of Oklahoma who died a lingering death two weeks after swallowing three ounces of hair conditioner containing ammonia. Ammonia? In hair conditioner?! There's also seven-month-old Adrian of New Mexico who crawled through a puddle of spilled bleach, which gave him third-degree burns over 50% of his tiny body, burned his lungs from the fumes- and took four days to kill him.
So, what should we do? Well, first and foremost, start using alternative products. They are out there; you just need to look around a bit. Be sure to find a reputable company that uses all-natural ingredients. Also be sure that when they claim to be non-toxic, they truly are. A product that kills 50% of lab animals through ingestion or inhalation can still receive the federal regulatory designation "non-toxic". I certainly don't want the product that killed 50%, I want the one that killed 0% if possible.
Secondly, get rid of the toxic products before an inquisitive child gets a hold of them. I recently received an email about a mom who had just converted her home to safer products. The very day she received them and put them away, her husband took a shower and forgot to close the door. She noticed that her son was being too quiet. When she went to investigate, she found him with the bottle of Tub and Tile cleaner (the new safer product) in his hand. She had no idea if he put it in his mouth but the bottle was foamy so she called poison control. Poison control asked what the product was and the manufacturer, and then looked up the product. She then told the mom to calm down and give her son a drink or food if he wants- he was not in danger. The mom asked what would have happened if she still had the old product in the room and poison control said "honey, you would have already been on your way to the emergency room"!
Lastly, tell others. We have to band together and educate families before it's too late. I don't want even the hint of risk to my children and I would much rather be safe than sorry. What about you?
Linda Jones is a stay-at-home mom with a deep passion for educating families about these dangers. She would be happy to give you further information about toxins and help you find alternative products. Please feel free to contact her at [email protected] or 949-916-9798.
This page is updated on March 14, 2013