Health dangers of cleaning and household products

Posted by Lenny on

Health dangers of cleaning and household products

A number of recent scientific studies on the dangers of volatile chemicals in cleaning products have been making the headlines.  It's worth reading-up on what these studies have found and what you can do to protect your family's health.


At Frosch we have long held the view that it's not just what chemicals we release into the environment that should be of concern, but also what we release into our own homes.  Children and pets will be in close proximity with floors and other surfaces, coming into contact with the chemicals we use to clean, but airborne particles should also be of concern, as these affect the quality of air in the house.  Household cleaning products should be chosen carefully and at Frosch we choose our ingredients very carefully indeed.

A study by Joost de Gouw at the University of Colorado, Boulder found that Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) found in homes are increasingly the result of cleaning, personal care and other household chemical products.  VOCs as a result of vehicle pollution are declining more rapidly.

Success by regulators in enforcing the reduction of VOCs from diesel vehicles have shown that transportation emissions found in the home are reducing by around 8% per year, but this is not being matched by VOCs from household chemicals.

Similarly, Øistein Svanes at the Department of Clinical Science, University of Bergen, has released a study showing that women exposed to cleaning products over many years are more likely to suffer respiratory decline.  The effects might be the equivalent of smoking 20 cigarettes a day over 10 to 20 years.

In both studies, the culprits are VOCs - Volatile Organic Compounds.  These compounds easily become gases or vapours.  But along with the carbon, they also contain hydrogen, oxygen, florin, chlorine, sulphur and nitrogen.

Now, ozone is a difficult pollutant to control as it is not emitted into the air, but forms in the atmosphere through a chemical process that requires sunlight.  The VOCs in the air react under sunlight to form Ozone.

VOCs are formed by burning fuel, are in oil based paints and in a variety of industrial products.  The awareness of these products has resulted in lots of legislation to control or ban them. 

But VOCs are also found in home products, including nail varnish, perfume, aerosols, air fresheners and cleaning products.  You can usually smell them (like nail varnish, acetone, glue etc).

And although these VOCs need to get into the atmosphere and sunlight to affect ozone, and do to a small degree, they are still breathed in and cause us harm.  Studies have proved that they cause respiratory problems, asthma and even cancer.

When choosing the products that are to be used in your home look for manufacturers that are committed to eliminating harmful chemicals in their products.

If you would like to know more about Frosch's approach to where we source our ingredients and what we put in to our bottles, read more on our blog or see our Frosch Initiative pages (you may need a browser with a translation function).



Photo attribution: Your Best Digs.

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