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Non-Toxic Cleaning Tips

Reprinted with permission from Seventh Generation.
http://www.seventhgen.com/

You can improve your family's health and make your home a safer place -- and clean your home at the same time.

Read the Labels

Look for household cleaning products containing non-petroleum-based surfactants, that are chlorine and phosphate free, that claim to be non-toxic, and that are bio-degradable. These products clean as effectively as their petrochemical counterparts, but don't pollute your home in the process.

Signal Words for Toxic Products

Signal Word

Category

Approximate Amount Needed to Kill an Average Person

Toxic Effects

DANGER or POISON

Highly Toxic


a few drops to 1 teaspoon

Fatal if swallowed (inhaled or absorped through the skin)

WARNING


Moderately Toxic

1 teaspoon to 1 ounce


May be fatal if swallowed (inhaled or absorped through the skin)

CAUTION

 

Slightly Toxic if used improperly

more than 1 ounce

 

Possibly harmful if swallowed (inhaled or absorped through the skin)

NON-TOXIC

Non-Toxic

N/A

N/A

All substances -- even water -- can be toxic if consumed in large quantities or used improperly. Therefore, non-toxic products often display a "Caution."

Open the Windows

Did You Know? A recent study found that women who work in the home are 55% more likely to get some form of cancer or chronic respiratory disease than women who work outside the home. One of the key suspected reasons: the toxic chemicals used in many traditional cleaning products. Studies show that the air in most homes is two to five times more polluted than the air outside. Traditional household cleaning products may greatly contribute to indoor air pollution. Circulating fresh air (and asking your children to play outside) while you clean your home will greatly reduce the effects of air pollution in the home.

Buy Only Non-Chlorine Bleached Paper Products

Traditional paper products, like bath tissue and paper towels, are commonly bleached with chlorine compounds. Unfortunately, many consumers don't know that the process of bleaching paper with chlorine compounds releases dioxins into the environment. Recent research has conclusively linked dioxins with cancer, reproductive disorders among adults, deformities and developmental problems in children, and immune system breakdowns. Look for paper products labeled "non-chlorine bleached," and you'll be doing your part to cut down on dioxin pollution.

Don't Buy Products Containing Ammonia and Chlorine

Found in a host of scouring powders, laundry bleach, dishwasher detergent, and basin, tub, and tile cleaners, these chemicals are a prime cause of health problems and atmospheric ozone loss. Ammonia is also an irritant that affects the skin, eyes and respiratory passages. The symptoms of ammonia exposure are: burning sensation in the eyes, nose and throat; pain in the lungs; headache; nausea; coughing and increased breathing rate. Chlorine is the household chemical most frequently involved in household poisoning in the U.S. Chlorine also ranks first in causing industrial injuries and deaths resulting from large industrial accidents. Chlorine is an acutely toxic chemical.

Don't Buy Traditional Toilet Bowl Cleaner, Oven Cleaner, Or Furniture Polish

Don't buy traditional toilet bowl cleaner, oven cleaner, or furniture polish, since they contain the highest amounts of toxic chemicals. Since these cleaners contain strong acids or alkalies, their toxic effect is highly acute and local. Their corrosiveness- which can cause severe damage to skin, eyes, and lungs- is what makes them work. These products, when in liquid form, may also contain petroleum distillates, which can acutely affect lung tissue.


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