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Household Cleaning Hazardous to Heath Say Scientists
by Lourdes Salvador
If you don´t like to clean, there is good news for you! New research shows that you may be healthier for it!
Most people think they are doing a good thing when they clean. In fact, many people are very concerned about germs and go to extreme lengths to clean and insist upon the use of hand sanitizer and wipes.
However, research shows that these practices may not be good. In fact, they may actually be dangerous to our health and pollute the air we breathe.
Researchers conducted an exposure assessment study to determine short term airborne exposures from cleaning. The study entailed the daily routine cleaning tasks of a bathroom. A general purpose, glass, and bathroom cleaner were used to clean the sink, mirror, and toilet bowl.
The cleaning took approximately ten minutes and the air was measured for volatile organic compounds, ammonia, and other toxicants found in many cleaning products.
It turns out that airborne exposures from even a short-term, ten minute cleaning task remain in the air in the room long after the cleaning. This means that anyone entering the room later is exposed to numerous toxic chemicals.
Other studies have shown that indoor air is as much as two to six times more polluted than outdoor air. The culprits which pollute indoor air include cleaning products, air ´fresheners´, fumes from scented laundry products, and formaldehyde release from furniture and carpet.
The levels of some chemicals which remained in the bathroom after it was cleaned approached occupational exposure limits, suggesting house cleaning leads to exposure at dangerous levels of various chemicals.
Exposure to cleaning products has been linked with asthma and other respiratory disorders.
Experts suggest improving ventilation and using safer products to reduce exposures. Some ways to improve ventilation include:
- Open windows.
- Place HVAC fan in the ´on´ position (regardless of temperature setting).
- Install a carbon filter or whole house filter on the HVAC system.
- Use a portable air filter, especially when cleaning.
- Avoid the use of air fresheners and scenting devices.
- Choose unscented, natural, and organic cleaning products whenever possible.
- Consider baking soda for scouring and laundry, vinegar for all purpose cleaning and disinfecting, and peroxide for bleaching and added disinfecting.
- Avoid pesticides.
Bello A, Quinn MM, Perry MJ, Milton DK. Quantitative assessment of airborne exposures generated during common cleaning tasks: a pilot study. Environ Health. 2010 Nov 30;9(1):76. [Epub ahead of print]
For more articles on this topic, see: MCSA News.
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