Ingredient labels don’t tell the whole story
Image Point Fr/Shutterstock Clean-living guru and author of A to Z of D-Toxing: The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Our Toxic Exposures, Sophia Gushee says you’re not getting the full story from the product labels. “Federal laws protect confidential business information, so manufacturers are not legally bound to disclose all their chemical ingredients or all the potential health problems that the product may cause,” she warns. Gushee also believes we currently lack unbiased oversight that can help ensure cleaning products are safe: “What we do know about conventional cleaning products raises concern.” Check out these natural ways to clean your home.
Concentrations are key
T.Dallas/Shutterstock While most common household cleaning products contain low concentrations of the active ingredients, the industrial-strength concentrations you can get in hardware and specialty supply stores are a real concern, points out Gerald F. O’Malley, DO, a Merck Manuals expert, professor of toxicology at Thomas Jefferson University. “For example, standard household bleach is a low-concentration (3 to 8 percent) of sodium hypochlorite, which is just an irritant to your mucous membranes,” he says. “Exposure to high concentration bleach (greater than 40 percent) is injurious if it comes into contact with the skin or eyes or if it is swallowed or deeply inhaled.” He recommends checking labels for the concentration of your bleach—and when in doubt or if you have an exposure, call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.