Healthy Living: Are household cleaning products damaging your lungs?

Local

The saying goes, a clean house is a happy house but if you’re cleaning your house with chemical cleaners, you could be putting your health at risk. 

Here are a few tips to help you make healthy choices in your home.

Kevin Stewart, the Director of Environmental Health for Advocacy and Public Policy with the American Lung Association explains the best place to start is the product’s label.

“A product that says on the label harmful or fatal if swallowed or may cause burns or blisters or blindness… those are very, very serious products to have in the house,” says Stewart.

These serious products like bleach, ammonia or borax may also be unnecessary.

“Maybe they don’t need to use those strongest, most hazardous products,” says Stewart. “They really ought to focus on the mildest that still do the job.”

Stewart explains, “In many cases… very, very simple things — vinegar, baking soda, are sufficient to clean up a problem without buying products that have hazardous things in them.”

Because of the risk, many have turned to “natural” and “green” products. Stewart says those could also mislead consumers. 

“Green or natural is used as a marketing tool and isn’t regulated,” says Stewart. 

He suggests using the EPA’s “Safer Choice” website which contains products that must list every ingredient and meet certain criteria for consumer safety.

The type of cleaning product used may also raise its risk on your health.

Mist or spray products create microscopic droplets that are easily inhaled. When those droplets get into contact with lung tissue, it can damage the tissue, according to Stewart.

And if a product has a fragrance to it — you may want to think twice before grabbing a cleaner.

“The smell of clean is really no smell at all,” says Stewart. “If you have an odor, find out what is causing it and deal with the source. Don’t try to mask it by putting something else into the air.”

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