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EWC Healthy Cleaning Guide: Harmful Chemical to Watch Out For



The Environmental Working Group (EWC) recently released a guide to good cleaning, which is available online to anyone concerned about the ingredients that household cleaning products contain, and how these ingredients affect consumer health. Many regular household cleaning products that are used without thought every day actually contain chemicals that are harmful to our health. Even products labeled as ‘green’ are far from being healthy cleaning products. Thus the EWC has conducted extensive research to provide an informative guide to help consumers buy safe and healthy cleaning products.

EWC Healthy Cleaning Research

The EWC normal cleaning guide rates over 2,000 household cleaning products with grades ‘A’ to ‘F,’ according to the safety of the ingredients as well as the disclosure of contents, as by law cleaning products do not have to disclose their ingredients. EWG scientists spent over 14 months scrutinizing cleaning product labels and technical documents.

Ingredients were then compared to fifteen international toxicity databases and numerous medical journals, to determine what products were suitable for healthy home cleaning. The short is that many cleaning products on our supermarket shelves are packed with toxic chemicals that can harm our health and that of our families. On the other side of the spectrum, many healthy cleaning products do the job just as well and do not contain hazardous chemicals. By using EWC, individuals can make informed consumer decisions about healthy home cleaning.

EWC Healthy Cleaning Guideline: Key Findings

Although the EWC healthy cleaning guide is extensive, we’ve outlined a few of the main findings from the research.

  • Around 53% of the cleaning products examined in the EWC research were found to contain ingredients that are known to be harmful to the lungs. Furthermore, about 22% contain ingredients that have been reported to trigger the development of asthma in otherwise healthy individuals, highlighting the concern of unhealthy cleaning products.
  • A commonly used preservative is Formaldehyde, which is known to be a human carcinogen. It is also formed when terpenes (found in citrus and pine oil cleaners) reacts with oxygen in the air, making it an unhealthy cleaning product ingredient.
  • Chloroform is a suspected human carcinogen and is commonly released in fumes that contain chlorine bleach, making the chemical unsuitable as a healthy home cleaning product.
  • Quaternary ammonium compounds, for example, benzalkonium chloride, are commonly found in antibacterial spray cleaners and fabric softeners and can cause asthma. They are a common unhealthy cleaning product ingredient found in the home.
  • Exposure to sodium borate, commonly known as borax or boric acid, can cause disruptions to the hormone system.
  • Supposedly healthy cleaning products labeled as ‘green’ may be useful for the environment, but may not necessarily be suitable for consumer health. Furthermore, many earth-friendly products do not disclose all of their ingredients.

More information on the ingredients of cleaning products and the effect they have on human health can be found on the EWG website. Use the guide to make better consumer choices and to promote good cleaning in your home.