How Toxic are Household Cleaners?


So, the house is squeaky clean, courtesy of the closet filled with specialized, brand-named products, but we notice that after using some of them it’s a little hard to breathe, or we have a bit of a sore throat, or a headache, or maybe a bit of a skin rash, so we get some fresh air or wash off…and that’s ok?

Most of us want a clean environment, and we trust that products found in our supermarkets are ok, or approved by someone trustworthy, so it may come as bit of a surprise to learn that the household cleaning product business is not particularly well-regulated.

It turns out that because household products are not ingested (intentionally), they don’t fall under FDA regulations. Manufacturers have to list the main ingredients in their products, but they can legally be vague, and don’t have to publicly share ALL of the ingredients being used.

For example, “fragrance” can be many things. Fragrances are often man made creations engineered from some combination of thousands of ingredients, some of which are toxic and some of which are petroleum products. As consumers we may be inhaling, absorbing or reacting to any of these ingredients without our knowledge.

If we humans are reacting, what about the other creatures? What happens when these products go down the drain and out into the world? I am a little bemused at warning labels that alert us to the fact that the product in our hands is “dangerous for humans and domesticated animals.” Does that mean that other creatures like fish, frogs and everything else that lives in the water or on the land that might come in contact with the product is somehow exempt from the toxic effects? Curious. Remember that everything is interconnected.