Hidden Dangers of Cleaning Products

Chemicals, Gasses, and VOC's Oh MY!

Canadians spend an average 90% of their time indoors either at home or work. So air quality is extremely important to our overall health. VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) are toxic chemicals that easily become vapors or gases and fill the air causing short and long term adverse health effects. They are commonly found in burning fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal or natural gas, cigarette smoke, perfumes, paints and in the household cleaners and products that fill the store shelves and in turn fill our air at home.

Why are VOC’s harmful to health?

VOCs by themselves can cause cancer, asthma, disrupt endocrine and hormones, cause damage to the lungs, liver, kidneys and nervous system, eye, nose and throat irritation and nausea. Frequent headaches, allergic skin reactions, fatigue and dizziness are quite common. Voc’s can also react with other gasses in the air forming additional air pollutants. Children exposed to VOC’s suffer respiratory, allergic and immune effects and pregnant women have an increased sensitivity to VOC’s. Lower birth weights, lower IQ’s are associated to exposure to VOC’s.

Household cleaning products can often be as tough on human health as they are on the grime and dirt we aim to clean.

The most notorious VOC’s and worst toxic offenders are Formaldehyde, Benzene, Butanol, Phthalates and Triclosan.

A long list of listed and unlisted offenders are present or created when chemicals and gasses combine in our common household cleaning products.

Top sources of household VOC’s according to the EPA:

  • aerosol sprays
  • cleansers and disinfectants (bleach and ammonia)
  • moth repellents and air fresheners
  • stored fuels and automotive products
  • hobby supplies
  • dry-cleaned clothing
  • pesticide
  • paints, paint strippers, and other solvents
  • wood preservatives
  • building materials and furnishings (especially particle board furniture)
  • office equipment such as copiers and printers
  • glues, adhesives, and permanent markers
  • New electronics, carpets, furniture and cars (that new smell)

Why are these companies allowed to include such harmful chemicals and ingredients?

The federal government promised regulations for VOC concentration limits for consumer products, nut they have been dragging their feet and delaying action for years. A lack of clear labeling rules also means that consumers are unaware of the contents of the products they purchase. Canada is so far behind other countries on matters of restriction, labeling and health. Its time the consumers take a stand and demand change.


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