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Household Products

Health Effects

Daily we use chemicals that might adversely affect our health and the environment. Many common household products, including cleaners, disinfectants, and air fresheners contain dangerous chemicals.

Air fresheners

Air fresheners come in a variety of packages including toilet blocks, aerosol cans, and scented candles. Air fresheners may contain variants of up to 3,000 different chemicals which are listed ‘fragrance’ on the label. Fragrances in aerosol cans are especially dangerous as they contain propellants (including butane, isobutane or propane). These propellants are neurotoxic at high concentrations.

The US Department of Health and Human Services found that a chemical commonly found in deodorizing products, 1,4 dichlorobenzene, causes reduced lung function. There is evidence that chemicals found in the ‘plug-in’ air fresheners react with the ozone in the environment to create formaldehyde and other chemicals.

To avoid the chemicals found in air fresheners, try some of these natural ways to freshen your home (such as lavender). Also, remember that pump spray bottles are always preferable to aerosol spray delivery methods.

Other Household Products

Another set of common household products which are used with some regularity are pest control products. See the NRDC Pest Control site for more information on risks and alternatives to chemical pest control methods.

Cosmetic and personal care products

See Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Guide to Healthy Cosmetics for information on safe, chemical-free alternatives to mainstream cosmetics and personal care products.

Safer Cleaning Substitutes

Although the following list of alternative cleaners may require a little more elbow grease to be effective, (1) their proper use will not harm you or the environment, (2) they are more economical, (3)  the bottles are often recyclable, and (4) the leftover cleaners are non-hazardous and therefore easier and safer to dispose of properly.

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Club soda
  • Baby oil
  • Liquid castile soap