Dr. Anne Steinemann, a world expert on environmental pollutants, air quality, and health effects, investigated and compared volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from 37 different products, such as air fresheners, cleaning products, laundry supplies, and personal care products, including those with certifications and claims of 'green' and 'organic'. Both fragranced and fragrance-free products were tested.
In total, over 550 volatile ingredients were emitted from these 37 products and there was no significant difference between the air pollutants between the standard and those labeled "green."
The most common chemicals in fragranced products were terpenes, which were not in fragrance-free versions. Terpenes readily react with ozone in the air to generate a range of additional pollutants, such as formaldehyde and ultrafine particles.
The EPA sites our exposure to air pollutants as 2 to 5 times (and up to 30 times!) higher indoors than outdoors. Much of this pollution is created by our own doing, in the same action in which we think we are improving the health of our environment - cleaning.
As consumers, we haven't been given the chance to make an accurate choice. Cleaning products sold in the US and around the world are not required to list all ingredients, or any ingredients in a chemical mixture called ‘fragrance’. Fewer than three percent were disclosed on any product label or material safety data sheet (MSDS). "Our indoor air environments are essentially unregulated and unmonitored," stated study author Steinemann,
The good news is it's an easy solution.
1. Dispose. Get rid of that stack of cleaning chemicals from under the sink, especially those you aren't using. Those plastic bottles still emit toxic fumes, even when you aren't spraying them.
2. Read Labels. If there is very little listed, or the product has "fragrance," just leave it on the shelf. Choose products which clearly state all ingredients. We like Young Living Thieves Household Cleaner.*
3. Make it Yourself. By far the easiest, safest and CHEAPEST option out there. Just because a product makes your eyes water doesn't mean it's actually a more effective cleaner. With a handful of the some of the least expensive items from the grocery, you will be set with supplies for months. Think white vinegar, baking soda, salt and olive oil.
Are you interested in more recipes like these for more homemade hacks? Have any homemade cleaning products worked particularly well for you? Please share in the comments!
*Our office and several of our staff are Young Living independent distributors