Of course, the answer is a resounding, "No!"
The toxic chemicals in household cleaners are three times more likely to cause cancer than outdoor air pollution, according to a 1985 EPD report, and a 15-year study found that women who cleaned their own home had a 54% higher cancer rate than women who had others clean for them. The study concluded that toxic cleaning supplies was the culprit. Finally, a report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission identified 150 chemicals commonly found in homes that have been linked to birth defects, allergies, hormonal imbalances, cancer and psychological abnormalities. Keeping the windows shut can cause these toxins to build up to levels 2-100 times more than outside pollution levels. This is scary stuff!
I started reading about xenoestrogens--estrogen mimicking compounds--that are found in everything from soy, meats and dairy to cleaning supplies to birth control pills, to plastics. Chronic exposure to Xenoestrogens can cause estrogen dominance, symptoms of which include chronic fatigue reproductive problems, weight gain, thyroid problems, mood swings, and allergies. Researchers looked at fish in a river in France and found that almost the entire population were female. The cause? Xenoestrogens in the water. Doctors are seeing girls as young as six years old entering puberty. Why? Xenoestrogens in their food and environment. This is serious stuff, guys!
So, exposure to the toxins is cleaning supplies--and by exposure, I mean, being around them during normal use-- can cause eye irritation, itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, congestion, respiratory problems, nausea, headaches, central nervous system depression, rashes, cancer, hormone imbalances, birth defects, reproductive issues, and a whole host of other problems, and these chemicals can travel through the blood stream and into the placenta, effecting unborn children, and I was using them everyday?
The final piece--although the immediate health effects were enough make we want to change--was the environmental factor, which ultimately, does go back to health. "Where do these chemicals go once I have used them," I began to wonder. The answer is obvious: into the environment. They are released into the air, and flushed down our drains, polluting rivers and lakes. These chemicals can upset the nutrient balance in bodies of water and contaminate everything living in the water. The fish we eat, the water we let our children wade through, the lakes we ski in, all contaminated by these toxins.
Have I convinced you yet? I was sure convinced and completely overwhelmed. Where should I even start? Natural products are typically much more expensive, and while absolutely worth it, I just didn't have extra money to pay more to replace all of cleaning products. I also was worried about viruses, bacteria, and other "germs," and I just didn't really know where begin. Here is a list of steps you can take.
To Improve your indoor air quality:
1) Commit to opening your windows for at least 10 minutes every day to air out your rooms.
2) Purchase air-purifying plants to filter out some of these toxins and improve your indoor air quality. You'll need at least one plant for each bedroom and several fort he main areas of your house.
To swap out your chemical cleaners with natural ones:
1) If you are feeling overwhelmed, pick just one cleaner to swap out each week. This will also help to spread out the cost of replacing all of your cleaners.
2)Start small. Don't feel guilty if you don't feel ready to go natural on everything in your house. Every step you take towards more natural living matters.
3) I you are worried about germs, don't be. Contrary to what the industry claims, there are natural ways to fight germs, but I'll save that for another post.
the Modern Housewife