Here comes our annual top 10 most toxic household cleaners
I am working on a story about toxic household cleaning products, and what I am learning is that some of the most dangerous chemicals are those that present immediate hazards.
Here are my questions:
What do we mean by toxic? To you, your body? To the environment? That's what we mean. Both.
How do I select 10 terrible products without receiving the wrath of so many powerful companies? I could go by category or I could name names and base my opinions on sound science and experience.
Are there some good guys out there too, making safe or at least safer products? I certainly hope so.
Most toxic would definitely be paint strippers. But how many people keep paint strippers beneath the kitchen sink? Probably more likely in the outdoor shed. At least, I hope so.
How about those toilet bowl cleaners? Are they dangerous? They are if you mix them.
What's in those products? I see a Lysol product contains hydrogen chloride. What is that?
Chemical Hazard: Never use or mix with bleach products or other household cleaners. Hazardous gases may result. If this occurs, leave the room immediately. Ventilate room before reentry.
Soft scrub contains water (diluent), lactic acid, linear alkylbenzene sulfonate, alkyl polyglucoside, sodium hydroxide, fragance. The sodium hydroxide.
Sodium hydroxide is a big deal chemical. If you have kids around you don't want them near the stuff. Believe me. This stuff is lye. It burns, it scars, it kills. It is caustic as hell's fires.
According to Wikipedia:
Pure sodium hydroxide is a white solid available in pellets, flakes, granules, and as a 50% saturated solution. It is hygroscopic and readily absorbs water from the air, so it should be stored in an airtight container. It is very soluble in water with liberation of heat. It also dissolves in ethanol and methanol, though it exhibits lower solubility in these solvents than does potassium hydroxide. Molten sodium hydroxide is also a strong base, but the high temperature required limits applications. It is insoluble in ether and other non-polar solvents. A sodium hydroxide solution will leave a yellow stain on fabric and paper.
In other words, if you have children around, buying safe cleaning products might be the most important thing you ever do for your children. This was suggested in a recent study from researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy in the College of Medicine, Ohio State University. In this study, cases of unintentional, nonfatal, household cleaning product-related injuries were selected for drain cleaners, ammonia, metal polishes/tarnish removers, turpentine, dishwasher detergents, acids, swimming pool chemicals, oven cleaners, pine oil cleaners/disinfectants, laundry soaps/detergents, toilet bowl products, abrasive cleaners, general-purpose household cleaners, bleaches, windshield wiper fluids, caustic agents, lye, wallpaper cleaners, room deodorizers/fresheners, spot removers, and dishwashing liquids.
An estimated 267,269 children five years or younger were treated in US emergency departments for household cleaning product-related injuries between 1990 and 2006, according to the September 2010 Pedtriatics report.[i] (The number of injuries attributable to household cleaning product exposure decreased 46.0% from 22,141 in 1990 to 11,964 in 2006.)
The product most-commonly associated with injury was bleach (37.1%). Children 1 to 3 years of age accounted for 72.0% of cases. The primary mechanism of injury was ingestion (62.7%). The most common source or container was spray-bottles (40.1%). The authors conclude that, despite improvement, “the number of injuries remains high.”
Chlorine bleach is a big deal dangerous chemical, particularly if you have children. I read this also at Yahoo. Kathy Browning of the Yahoo! Contributor Network makes this comment on March 23, 2006 ""Many household cleaners contain chlorine, though it often masquerades behind aliases such as 'sodium hypochlorite' or 'hypochlorite.' Breathing in the fumes of cleaners containing a high concentration of chlorine can irritate the lungs. This is particularly dangerous for people suffering from heart conditions or chronic respiratory problems such as asthma or emphysema. And the risks are compounded when the cleaners are used in small, poorly ventilated rooms, such as the bathroom." Bathrooms cleaners contain sodium hydroxide.
And, of course, our children are indoors a lot more during the winter. That’s a lot more time to get into trouble.