Air Pollution Isn’t Just 1970s Los Angeles Anymore*:
Fifty-six years ago, Jimi Hendrix warned us all about the dangers of Purple Haze.
With all the different pollutants we have to deal with today, it seems like prophetic advice.
The sad part about this is that many of them come from places none of us expected.
The plastic bottle BPA scare years ago was just one of them.
And unfortunately, these insults seem to affect the vulnerable among us the most, like the very young,very old, and those already ill.
So if plastic bottles were an unwelcome surprise back then, the EWG’s new findings on products you already have in your house will be another…
The Short Answer:
- Pollution of one type or another can come from unlikely places.
- Plastic water bottles are just one example.
- They can leach a lot more than just BPA into your drink.
- The EWG’s research team tested 30 household cleaning products.
- They release about 500 different chemicals into the air of your house.
- About 200 of these are hazardous.
- They can cause respiratory damage, reproductive damage, developmental damage, and potentially raise the incidence of cancers.
- Cleaners labeled as “Green” & “Fragrance Free” emitted many fewer chemicals.
- Green cleaners were 400% less likely to emit any chemicals.
- Green Fragrance-Free cleaners were 800% less likely to emit any chemicals.
- They also put 32% less and 82% less hazardous substances into the air, respectively.
- Indoor air-pollution is a very real thing and can be 2-10x worse than the outside air.
- Perhaps there are ways to get more chemicals out of our lives than just the ideas from the study.
- The list of items tested is at the end of the article.
Read on to find out the details…
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Now before we go creating flashbacks about all the microplastics scooting around, perhaps inside you,
Let’s also pick up the previous thread and remember that not only did we learn about BPA,
An even shorter while ago was when we learned that even the plastic bottles without BPA are leaching hundreds of chemicals into your drink or water.
This is especially true if you run them through the dishwasher.
And even the old dude from Oreck tried to warn us about more local pollutants.
Because after testing at least 30 household products that are mostly cleaners,
The EWG’s team of researchers found that all of them release chemicals into the air of your house.
The total number of these different compounds (or VOCs) is over 500!
And as you might expect given the update on plastic bottle safety,
The amount of them getting into the air of your house that are actually harmful is ~40% of that; at about 200.**
The type of problems these chemicals may cause includes:
1) Respiratory system damage like asthma or even COPD
2) Reproductive damage
3) Developmental damage
4) Increased incidence of cancers
Now since this list includes air fresheners, glass cleaners, multi-purpose cleaners and more,
Are you as out-of-luck as someone looking for one of the older Oreck air purifiers that has 4 stages and will nuke just about anything? (since they don’t sell them anymore)
The one saving grace of this study is that it also shows the so-called “Green” products really do kinda deliver.
Green products emitted about 4x less VOCs than the standard cleaners and fresheners.
Those Green products marked as “Fragrance Free” emitted 8 times less than the standard products.
And to top it all off, the trend also held for the chemicals that were dangerous, too.
1) Green products emitted 32% fewer hazardous VOCs into the air
2) Green + Fragrance-Free products put 82% fewer hazardous VOCs into the air
It turns out that good ole’ David Oreck wasn’t wrong about indoor air pollution at all.
According to the authors, cleaning products like these can cause the indoor air to be anywhere from 2-10x more polluted than the air outside your house.
-Not counting the Canadian wildfire summer of 2022.
And not only do these chemicals cause problems for people who work in the cleaning industry and also women and babies.
But if you work in an “ice-cube tray” styled office building that’s a bit more sealed than it should be,
The final insult of course is that sooner-or-later these chemicals make it outside.
One study suggested that half of all the VOC-based pollution in the air comes from the out-gassing of home cleaning products finally making it into the outside environment.
So believe it or not, there really does look like a way for you to do good for yourself, your family, and The Environment.
And it’s something that you can start doing, right in your little own home.
Perhaps it shouldn’t stop there, either.
Because this is all part of a bigger theme that shows there are 1,000s of chemicals we come into contact each day that are completely untested.
And the plastic water bottles releasing 100s of them, in addition to the microplastics that are everywhere is just one more example.
So maybe there are some new versions of “old-fashioned” things we can bring back into our lives, like metal & glass containers.
Anything we can do to get the plastics & chemicals out of our lives might be just as helpful as changing your brand of window-cleaner.
There was one comment expressing disappointment in the the omission of the product list.
-Even though you could pretty much guess that any similar product to the ones mentioned that’s not called “Green” or “Fragrance Free” would be one of the offenders.
For those who want the list and don’t feel like chasing down the excel file from the study, here they are:
- Glade automatic spray refill, clean linen with glade automatic spray holder
- Febreze one, bamboo
- Spic and span multi-surface cleaner, sun fresh
- Lestoil heavy duty multi-purpose cleaner
- Dr. Bronner’s pure-castile soap, baby unscented
- Attitude sensitive skin natural all purpose cleaner with colloidal oatmeal
- Comet 2x bleach cleanser
- ECOS All Purpose Cleaner, Parsley Plus
- Fit organic multi surface cleaner & degreaser
- Fabuloso professional multi-use cleaner, ocean cool
- Solimo disinfecting wipes, lemon scent
- Clorox Clean-Up Cleaner + Bleach, Original
- CleanSmart Daily Surface Cleaner
- Zep Shower Tub & Tile Cleaner
- Boulder Clean Foaming Bathroom Cleaner, Lemon Lime Zest
- CLR Brilliant Bath Cleaner, Fresh Scent
- Krud Kutter Tough Task Remover
- Biokleen bac-out stain & odor remover
- Bissell Pet Pro OXY Stain Destroyer
- Scotchgard oxy spot & stain remover
- Babyganics floor cleaner concentrate, fragrance free
- Swiffer sweeper wet mopping cloths, open window fresh
- Bona Hard-Surface Floor Cleaner, Lemon Mint
- Windex white vinegar
- 365 glass unscented
- HDX Glass Cleaner
- Grandma’s secret spot remover laundry spray
- Dapple baby stain remover fragrance free
- Martha stewart premium wood and floor cleaner
- Scott’s liquid gold wood care, fresh almond
*Although the hair metal guys from the 80s did have a good try, using enough Aqua-Net to launch a Saturn-5 rocket.
**(note: This is not the same type of air-pollution as your father-in-law when he yells, “SAFETY!” at the Thanksgiving dinner table.)
• Source: EWG
• More Coverage: Guardian- Untested Chemicals | NYT – Untested Chemicals
• Source Study: Chemosphere – Volatile organic compounds emitted by conventional and “green” cleaning products in the U.S. market