Is cleaning your home harming you and your family’s health?

Could the products you are using to clean your home – the products that you think are sanitizing and keeping you and your family safe actually be causing more health problems than the threat of the Covid-19 virus?

There are been numerous clinical resource studies that have proven that National brand products manufactured by those big corporations and pharmaceutical companies are harming our health.

So why are people still using them and supporting the companies that are doing so much harm to us? The only logical reason is….they just don’t know.

A University of Alberta study has found a link between common household disinfectants – particularly multi-surface cleaners – and a change in infant gut bacteria that contributes to child overweight issues. The study, published in 2018, in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, analyzed the gut flora of 757 infants at age three to four months and their body mass index, or BMI, at one and three years old, looking at exposure to disinfectants, detergents and eco-friendly products used in the home.

“We found that infants living in households with disinfectants being used at least weekly were twice as likely to have higher levels of the gut microbes Lachnospiraceae at age three to four months,” said principal investigator Anita Kozyrskyj, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Alberta.

Lachnospiraceae is one of many non-pathogenic bacteria that naturally inhabit the human gut.

“When they were three years old, their body mass index was higher than children not exposed to heavy home use of disinfectants as an infant,” she added. (CBC News article)

The problem is not so much more than simply having more overweight children, because the majority of health problems are related to obesity and being overweight. Also, children who are overweight or obese have a much harder time achieving and maintaining a healthy weight than adults.

In another study, starting in the 1990s, the Community Respiratory Health Survey began tracking a large population of 6,235 women and men with a beginning average age of 34 at 22 health centers in multiple countries. Over the next 20 years, participants were quizzed about their use of both spray and liquid home cleaning products and had their lung capacity tested regularly. Lung capacity was measured by breathing into a spirometer, an instrument that measures how much air you can exhale. Those with compromised lung function are not able to exhale as much volume as someone who is healthy.

Fifty-three percent of the participants were women and 44% were lifelong non-smokers. The analysis was adjusted for smokers and those with doctor-diagnosed asthma. Participant data was extensive, ensuring that each subject was well characterized, significantly reducing the likelihood of misrepresentation.

Once twenty years of data had been collected, the results were compiled and analyzed by a top team of 28 international researchers from nine countries, led by scientists at The University of Bergen in Norway. The study, titled Cleaning at Home and at Work in Relation to Lung Function Decline and Airway Obstruction, was published in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. The key findings of the study were:

  • Using national brand cleaners as little as once per week is as damaging to lung health as smoking 20 cigarettes per day.
  • Women are affected far more than men.
  • Cleaning at home is just as, if not more harmful, than being an occupational cleaner.
  • Liquid cleaners are just as dangerous as sprays.
  • Dangerous chemical ingredients including ammonia, chlorine bleach, and quaternary disinfecting compounds appear to be primary culprits.
  • Women who regularly use cleaning products have increased rates of asthma.
  • Damage is cumulative over time.

And this not only affects women but children and the rest of our family, including our pets. In a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2020, research indicated that infants who are exposed to cleaning products are more likely to develop asthma and wheeze later in life.

Previous studies have looked at exposure to these chemicals among people who clean for a living, but this is the first to look at exposure among infants. The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Allergy, Genes and Environment Network of Centres of Excellence.

“We can’t tell which brands are worse than others based on the data that we have, but we think that the findings are enough to tell the public that maybe they should limit their exposure or find ways to minimize the hazard that comes with these exposures,” Jaclyn Parks, the study’s lead author and a graduate student in Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Health Sciences (CTV News article)

The researchers believe chemicals in these products can trigger the inflammatory pathways of the immune system and in turn damage the respiratory lining, which can lead to asthma and wheeze.

They suggest reading the labels of cleaning products and choosing those with fewer ingredients. They also recommend avoiding spray bottles, which carry a higher risk. However, from the previous lung study conducted at Bergen University, since liquid and spray cleaners had the same damaging effects, the best solution is to remove them from your household altogether.

The American Lung Association recommends against the use of cleaning products with volatile organic compounds, scents and other irritants; however, neither the U.S. nor Canada requires companies to list all the ingredients in their products.

So what do the studies mean to you? For people who try to keep a clean, safe home, the results of the studies are an imperative call to action.

If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to rid your home of the dangerous national cleaning products that contain so many harmful chemicals! What kinds of cleaners are to blame? Most all home cleaning products including disinfectants, kitchen cleaners, bathroom cleaners, toilet cleaners, shower and tub cleaners, scrubs, stain removers, floor cleaners, degreasers, window and glass cleaners, and surface cleaners.

Ingredients to Avoid:

  • Chlorine – used in surface cleaners, bathroom cleaners, and toilet bowl cleaners are harmful or fatal if swallowed, can permanently damage skin, attacks membranes in your respiratory system, and doesn’t get rid of dirt—it just bleaches the colour out of it.
  • Ammonia – used in glass cleaners and surface cleaners ammonia is irritating and corrosive. Exposure can cause immediate burning of the nose, throat, and respiratory tract.
  • Formaldehyde – used in disinfectants or other products as a preservative and can cause an allergic reaction in the skin. When present in the air it can cause watery eyes, burning sensation of the eyes, nose, and throat, coughing, wheezing, and nausea.
  • Phthalates – used in detergents and common fragrances, and in the past few years, researchers have linked phthalates to asthma and breast cancer.
  • Abrasives – used in bathroom and kitchen cleaners, abrasives contain hard particles that can damage your sink and shower and scuff their surfaces giving dangerous bacteria a safe place to grow, breed, and multiply.
  • Phosphates – used historically used in detergents too much phosphorus in our waterways leads to excessive algae growth, often resulting in the death of fish and water plant life.
  • Parabens – used in multi-surface cleaners and other products as preservatives. Parabens are known to disrupt hormone function.
  • Quaternary Disinfectants – used in home-use disinfectants, quaternary disinfectants are poisonous if ingested. They aren’t as effective on viruses and their effectiveness can be reduced by common circumstances like hard water. They have been linked to lung damage.

Though the research results have gained some immediate public interest online and in the general news media, it is up to you to not only take care of your own home but to warn friends, family, and neighbours of the very real consequences of using these conventional home cleaning products.

Want more information on the dangers of toxic household products and recommendations? Join the Facebook group, Discover the Hidden Toxins in your Home Jeopardizing your Health, created for a FREE 5-Day Health Symposium with a wealth of information and resources.

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