Poisons Under Your Sink: Hidden Dangers of Cleaning Products


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May 12 2004 - 3:03pm

Poison and Cleaning Products

The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) has recorded many exposures to household cleaning substances that were serious enough to require treatment in a health care facility. Incredibly, according to the AAPCC the largest number of occurrences of poisoning in 1993 were due to cleaning products: drain cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, bleach, soaps and detergents.

One Million poisonings in Canada each year are due to household cleaner ingestion. Some are fatal. Thousands of children and adults are permanently disfigured or injured through contact with chemicals in the home each year.

Our pets are also at risk. Animals that don't have access to clean, fresh water are more likely to drink out of puddles, gutters, toilet bowls, or any old container left sitting around with a liquid in it. Even though my cats always have access to clean water in a bowl, they seem to prefer the toilet, the sink, the bathtub, or even a basin with cleaning solution in it.

Here is an alphabetical list of some of the most hazardous cleansers found around the house:

AIR FRESHENERS: interfere with your ability to smell by releasing nerve-deadening agents or coating nasal passages with an oil film, usually methoxychlor, a pesticide that accumulates in fat cells. Known toxic chemicals found in an air freshener are formaldehyde, a highly toxic, known carcinogen, and phenol. When phenol touches your skin it can cause it to swell, burn, peel, and break out in hives.

AMMONIA: is a very volatile chemical and is very damaging to your eyes, respiratory tract and skin.

ANTIBACTERIAL CLEANERS: may contain triclosan, which is absorbed through the skin and can be tied to liver damage.

BLEACH: is a strong corrosive. It will irritate or burn the skin, eyes and respiratory tract. It may cause pulmonary edema or vomiting and coma if ingested. Never mix bleach with acid toilet bowl cleaners or ammonia. These mixtures may produce fumes which can be DEADLY.

CARPET AND UPHOLSTERY SHAMPOO: Most formulas are designed to over power the stain itself; they accomplish the task but not without using highly toxic substances. Some include perchlorethylene, a known carcinogen that damages liver, kidney and nervous system damage; and ammonium hydroxide, a corrosive, extremely irritable to eyes, skin and respiratory passages.

CHLORINE: The first agent of chemical warfare was chlorine. WWII ended with an abundance of this cheap chemical. In the name of huge profits, it was added to our water supply and many other products. Chlorine is the number one cause of breast cancer and can be lethal. Scientists won't handle chlorine without protective gloves, facemasks, and ventilation, yet it is in most store-brand cleaners, including dishwasher detergents. The harmful effects are intensified when the fumes are heated, as in the shower. It нs in our drinking water, swimming pools, Jacuzzis, and more.

DISHWASHER DETERGENTS: Most products contain chlorine in a dry form that is highly concentrated. The #1 cause of household poisoning is dish detergent. Dishwashing liquids are labelled "harmful if swallowed." Each time you wash your dishes, some residue is left on them, which accumulates with each washing. Your food picks up part of the residue, especially if your meal is hot when you eat it.


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hello i am a 35 year old woman that cleans houses and have been for about 3 years. the last three years i have had several problems. i usually dont use gloves but i wash my hands after cleaning someones house. i get into pledge orange oil and windex scrubbing bubbles and comet bleach. i have developed problems with muscle weakness and rigidness. the doctors cant find anything wrong with me. i was thinking about all those chemicals i get into everyday. i just wonder why im feeling badly..thanks
I would do a cleansing of your body. Look up juice cleanses... this can help. also start using enviromentally safe products from now on, (you can find them in health food stores or whole foods etc, even on line I am sure.) insist on it, especially since it is your business, that is if your still doing it. Good luck.
hello, i am a fourteen year old whom has ocd terribly. and ive cleaned my house everyday for a year or two. with hardcore cleaners. such as greased lightening and pure amonia. what can this lead to?
I had been trying to make my own cleaning supplies with vinegar and baking soda, then my mother-in-law introduced me to Norwex and now I clean with water. My home is chemical free and I no longer need to take my allergy medication that I was taking daily. My son's allergies are better, too. Get rid of those chemicals, ladies!