By now it should be no surprise that common household disinfectants such as bleach do more harm than good. Clean floors, polished counter tops, whiter clothes, and the fake aroma of being in a forest sound good, but what are the unseen effects of these products? bleach

A 30-year study by Harvard University and the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research found that using common household cleaning products as little as once a week increased the risk of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) 32 percent. COPD affects over 30 million Americans and is a parent term that includes lung diseases such as:

  • Emphysema
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Refractory (non-reversible) asthma
  • Various forms of bronchiectasis

It’s Everywhere

The leading cause of COPD by cleaning products is the chemical known as quaternary ammonium compounds (quats). Quats cause reproductive issues in mice, are toxic to marine life, and cause skin and respiratory irritation. Unfortunately, quats aren’t only in cleaning products. They can also be found in: hair conditioners, moisturizers, body washes, bubble bath, liquid hand soap, shaving cream, styling gel/cream, styling mousse, makeup, antiperspirant/deodorant, baby wipes, sunscreens, and acne treatments. In laundry/fabric softeners, quats are what inhibit the buildup of static electricity. This also makes them useful in hairsprays.

With quats in your cleaning and laundry supplies, and skin and body care products, you are literally being covered and exposed to this toxic chemical throughout the day. COPD is mostly only found in the lungs of smokers or people who have a genetic disorder. But as toxins continue to infiltrate our life from man-made air pollution, products that linger, COPD may be on the rise. Symptoms of COPD include:

  • Increased breathlessness (even when at rest)
  • Frequent coughing (with and without sputum)
  • Wheezing
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Fatigue
  • Cyanosis – a blue tinge to the skin caused by insufficient oxygen
  • Increased susceptibility to chest infections.

Bleach Isn’t the Only Danger At Home

In addition to the dangers of bleach and other household disinfectants, here are seven other dangers in your home and what you can do to decrease your risk of cancer and a host of other ailments. bleach

1. Bye Lead Paint, Hello New Toxins

According to the EPA, paint, paint stripper, dry cleaning fluid, varnishes, waxes, and some cleaning supplies contain cancer causing compounds known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

“VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands; examples (also include) pesticides, and building materials and furnishings,” according to the EPA.

When in use, these products release organic compounds into the air and even after use they still linger. Two of the worst chemicals released are  methylene chloride and benzene; both are carcinogenic, and benzene is one of the 20 most used chemicals in the U.S. Methylene chloride is in most paint strippers, adhesive removers, and aerosol spray paints (popular in the drug behavior known as” huffing“). Another danger of methylene chloride is that it is converted to carbon monoxide in the body and can cause symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Benzene, on the other hand, is in stored paint supplies and fuels.

How To Stay Cancer-Free: Paints labeled “low-VOC” and  “zero VOC” are among the safest. Both are readily available and easy to find in common hardware stores.

If you have to use paints or other products containing VOCs, work outdoors or in the garage is possible. If doing any work indoors, make sure all doors and windows are open and also consider getting an air filter to reduce toxic inhalation. 

2. Cosmetics And Beauty Products

Scientists are cramming chemicals linked to cancer into hundreds of everyday cosmetic, beauty, and skin products. bleach

Your makeup bag and medicine cabinet may be hazardous to your health, containing chemicals that are known carcinogens. Philip Landrigan, dean of Global Health at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, advises avoiding the “ dirty dozen” toxic chemicals in skin care listed in National Geographic’s Green Guide, including antibacterials; formaldehyde; hydroquinone; mercury and lead; parabens; phenylenediamine; coal tar; diethanolamine; 1,4-Dioxane; nanoparticles; and petroleum distillates.

Chemicals belonging to a class called phthalates are among the biggest culprits in beauty products because they mimic the action of our natural hormones. Phthalates such as dibutyl phthalate (DBP), dimethyl phthalate (DMP), and diethyl phthalate (DEP) are used in beauty products as “plasticizers.” They are what allows nail polish to harden and hair spray stick to hair. Phthalates are also found in the flexible plastic bottles in which shampoo, lotion, and other beauty products are stored. This allows them to seep into the contents that you then apply on your skin and that can be absorbed into the skin and thus the bloodstream.

Additionally, lipstick is problematic as it contains lead, which is known to cause numerous health problems, including cancer. In response to a public health effort by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the FDA recently conducted two separate investigations testing lipsticks for lead. Of the cosmetics tested in the U.S. market, 685 had traces of lead.

How To Stay Cancer-Free: Natural skin care and beauty companies are the best bet in keeping your body lead and toxin free. Zatik, one of the brands we carry on HoneyColony, offers a variety of moisturizers, soaps, shampoos, and other face and body care products that are natural, organic, and vegan.

3. Non-Stick Cookware

Pots, pans, and other cookware made with a non-stick coating (Teflon) are being phased out thanks to studies by the EPA. The main chemical in non-stick coatings is perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which  is known to cause cancer Studies conducted by the Environmental Working Group prove that when used in high heat, Teflon pans release dangerous toxins that cause flu-like symptoms.

The larger question has been whether enough PFOA gets into the human body from pans to pose a risk. Some experts believe that PFOA and as many as 15 other hazardous chemicals can be released when cooking with Teflon at high heat. Other concerns involve whether the chemicals can get into food once the surface becomes scratched and nicked over time.

Multiple lawsuits have been filed against DuPont, makers of “Teflon,” for its adverse health effects on residents where its factories were built and for workers who have gotten sick or have birthed children with birth defects after handling PFOA.

How To Stay Cancer-Free: Glass, cast iron, copper, and ceramic or porcelain-coated pans are all safe. There are also lines of non-stick cookware made with other surface coatings (often ceramic, titanium, or both) that don’t have cancer-causing agents.

4. Radon 

Radon is an odorless, radioactive gas that’s produced by the natural decay of uranium, and is more common than you might think.

After smoking, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., according to the EPA, which has found that nearly  one in three homes checked in seven states had radon levels over 4 pCi/L, the EPA’s recommended action level for radon exposure.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from rock and soil, and even well water can also be a source of radon. The only way to find out if there’s radon in your home is to test for it. Call the National Safety Council’s National Radon Hotline at (800) 767-7236, and they’ll send you a low-cost radon detector. Inexpensive models are also available at most hardware stores.

How To Stay Cancer-Free: There’s no safe substitute for radon. If you get the radon detector and your home tests for high levels, contact a licensed mitigation professional in order to find the best methods of reducing radon in your home.

5. Plastics

BPA, or bisphenol A, is always in headlines for its toxicity to health.

BPA is a phthalate and a synthetic estrogenic plastic by-product that is  linked to cancer, reproductive problems, and  heart disease. In 2010, the President’s Cancer Panel recommended that consumers not use water bottles and other containers made with BPA and urged that the ingredient be removed from commercial production. Unfortunately, that has happened in only a few states.

However, BPA-free bottles are being mass-produced and becoming the norm. Unfortunately, BPA has been much slower to phase out in other products, such as the lining of canned products. Since BPA can react with the metal of the cans, and cans are heated as they’re sterilized, canned food is “high risk” for BPA.

Heating plastic does make it more likely that any chemicals contained in it will be released into food, so do not microwave food in any plastic container (or even use a microwave for that matter). Keep plastic bottles containing liquid out of the sun also. bleach

How To Stay Cancer-Free: Look for “BPA-free” on labels. Use stainless steel water bottles when you’re out (this will decrease plastic and your carbon footprint), and use filtered water pitchers when you’re home. Or get a built-in filter attachment for your faucet.

6. Cleaning And Scented Products

Most cleaning  and scented products are rich with artificial chemicals, many being  linked to cancer and  other health issues. But experts say chemicals in our indoor air may have concentrations of up to 100 times higher than outdoor air.

Many air fresheners and candles contain either Isopar, which is deodorized kerosene, or paradichlorobenzene, both of which are carcinogenic and toxic to the lungs, liver, and kidneys. Be particularly careful when using anything you spray in the air or wipe on touchable surfaces.

How To Stay Cancer-Free: There are plenty of “green” cleaning and scented products on the market that use natural ingredients to scrub, disinfect, shine, and bring calm. Look for products containing essential oils and enzymes. Or make your own using baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar added to water. Additionally, silver is the most powerful and natural antibacterial available. A few drops can naturally clean surfaces and ensure no bacteria linger once you’re done. When it comes to candles, aim for all-natural aromatherapy.

7. Garden Chemicals And Insecticides

Pesticides and weed killers have been destroying our health directly and indirectly (not to mention the annihilation of the population). Whether through crop dusting or in our home gardening, we are increase our risk for cancer and Parkinson’s. A 2009 study found a higher incidence of brain cancer in children whose parents had exposure to pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides, either at home or at work. bleach

The researchers identified the pesticides and herbicides classified by the EPA as probable or possible human carcinogens (including chlordane, heptachlor, tetrachlorvinphos, carbaryl, propoxur, lindane, dichlorvos, phosmet, and permethrin) as the likely toxins responsible. bleach

Parkinson’s is also being studied for links to pesticide exposure. One study found that people diagnosed with Parkinson’s are more than twice as likely to report pesticide exposure than people not diagnosed with the disease.

In-home insecticides have also been studied for links to cancer. One study found that elevated levels of two chemicals used in pest bombs, known as “total release foggers” or TRFs, were detected at high levels in the urine of children with leukemia. The EPA now tracks illnesses and deaths associated with foggers, and many states are working to get them reclassified as limited-use products.

How To Stay Cancer-Free: Garden organically and pull weeds by hand. If you have a pest problem in the house, do your best to control it with natural repellents such as essential oils.