How safe are your cleaning products?

Published: 08th October 2016 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th October 2016 11:44 AM   |  A+A-

Minimum maintenance please,” request some clients’ when briefing about a new home or building. This “clean-ability” mantra could then be embedded into every design solution to achieve cleaner and healthier environment with frugal use of cleansing products. Among the popular LEED/GRIHA rating standards that aspirants fulfill during building audits, is the one about use of green cleaning products for their upkeep.

Using green cleaning agents is not mandatory for a green building; but a few are willing to push the envelope when it comes to picking the right products to keep their spaces clean.As the health and environmental impacts of conventional cleaning products come to light, it becomes more compulsive that brands offer healthy, green and effective cleaning choices to consumers. Such products must be non-toxic, swiftly biodegrade and be from renewable resources.

Lately even personal hygiene products such as face washes, body washes and scrubs have come under the scanner for their negative impact on the environment due to the inclusion of micro beads in them. It is easy to go environment friendly, if we know what to look for or recognize what is causing harm to our health & environment.For home maintenance, cleaning products are required for every thing — for dishes, countertops, furniture, clothes, floors, windows, and even the air as fresheners and insect repellants. In the war against dirt and germs, victory is more by doing something that does not vitiate the environment.

Most of the conventional cleaning products we are so familiar with have several toxins in them, and have health and environmental implications. Some of the chemicals are to be downright avoided.Phthalates are found in most fragranced products including air fresheners, soaps and sometimes even in napkins and toilet paper! They have an adverse effect on the endocrine system and are best avoided as they are absorbed through the skin and go straight to our organs. Look out for fragrance free or all-natural products. It is best to consider earth friendly essential oils, which can be used through a simple diffuser.

Triclosan is largely used in many products that are advertised as ‘antibacterial’. Once these enter our water sources, they continue killing bacteria and algae thereby disrupting the whole ecosystem. The skin quickly absorbs them; and prolonged exposure is said to cause cancer. A hand sanitizer brand that includes triclosans could be dangerous according to some; alcohol based ones are instead safer.Ammonia is another ingredient found in bathroom disinfectants as well as glass cleaning detergents.

Ammonia evaporates and produces a ‘streak-free’ shine that all just love! However this doesn’t come without its side effects. It can be instantly inhaled and exacerbates any type of lung conditions, particularly asthma and other breathing problems. Further, ammonia and bleach react chemically to release a very poisonous gas. Interestingly enough, vodka has been listed as a great substitute to ammonia. On a merrier note, make your glass happy in more ways than one by cleaning with vodka.So look out for what goes in your toiletries and other cleaning products. Make the switch and stay healthy!

Pavitra Sriprakash @pavisriprakash

India Matters


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