Have you ever picked up a product with every intention to read the ingredients but when you do, you have no idea what the ingredients really are?
Since I’ve tried to make healthier choices for our family, I run into this predicament a lot. I’m starting to have a better understanding of toxic and not-so-toxic ingredients in personal care products, but I’m not as aware of what’s in food and cleaning products.
Recently I raided a friend’s shelf of cleaners in search of ingredients. I didn’t care if they were dangerous or not, I just wanted to see what scientific names were listed. Surprisingly, a long ingredient list was NOT included on any of the bottles. One or two active ingredients were listed, then the specification “other ingredients.” Those mystery ingredients are a huge reason for concern.
Similar to cosmetics, manufacturers are not required by law to list all the ingredients in their cleaning products. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services publishes a Household Products Database that contains product ingredients and toxicity reports – but it solely relies on companies to provide the information. No unbiased, third party group checks for accuracy or completeness of the records. Additionally, there are no penalties for companies that do not report harmful ingredients or alert consumers to potential health hazards.
While more than 80,000 chemicals were manufactured and sold since World War II, less than twenty percent have been tested for toxicity. 1 According to the EPA, “Most Americans would assume that basic toxicity testing is available and that all chemicals in commerce today are safe. A 1998 EPA study found that this is not a prudent assumption.” 2 When our own Environmental Protection Agency warns Americans to not assume that cleaning products are safe, you know something is wrong. It’s easy to believe when 64,000 chemicals haven’t even been tested.
I’ll spend the next two days explaining the active ingredients I found in my recent raid – check your cleaners and see if you have any of the same ingredients.
Alkyl Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chloride
The highly toxic Alkyl Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chloride is classified by the EPA as an antimicrobial pesticide. This pesticide is present in many common household sprays. It’s used as a disinfectant. It also sanitizes eating and drinking utensils in the restaurant industry.
Used as an antimicrobial surfactant, Ammonium Chloride is a water-soluble salt of ammonia. It irritates the respiratory tract (symptoms include coughing and shortness of breath), gastrointestinal tract (symptoms include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea) and skin (symptoms include redness, itching, irritation and pain).
Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Saccharinate
Another antimicrobial pesticide, Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Saccharinate’s potent enough to kill the mycobacterium tuberculosis, HIV and Hepatitis B viruses. 3 And you just might be using it to clean your home.
Used in antibacterial sprays and wipes, the ethanol used is denatured alcohol, that irritates eyes and mucous membranes. If inhaled or ingested, it also might depress the central nervous system. 4
After an amazing response – welcome, new readers! – the winner of Leslie Boutique’s wet bag for diapers is Katrina of New Jersey.
If you enjoyed this post, you may be interested in reading How clean are your cleaning supplies?
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