We hear about a lot of companies and schools “going green” today as a means to protect the environment and the health of their workers and students.
But what about your home? Are you aware that the can be up to 100 times greater than those outside? According to a 1999 study in New Scientist, mothers who frequently used aerosol sprays and air fresheners in their homes were 25% more likely to experience headaches and 19% more likely to suffer from depression. Infants, six months and under in these same homes, had 30% more ear infections and a 22% higher frequency of digestive problems. Startling results that should make you stand up and take notice if you use aerosols and air fresheners in your home!
So what about cleaning green? How would you go about making this transition in order to keep your home environment safer and healthier? Here are some tips on living and cleaning green:
• Open windows and let the fresh air in and toxins out, weather permitting.
• Don’t rely on product advertising claims that a product is “natural,” since there really are no standards in place to monitor this. Look at product labels instead. Products with ingredients such as grain alcohol, coconut or other plant oils, and plant-oil disinfectants, other than triclosan (i.e., eucalyptus, rosemary, or sage) are the ones you want to use.
• Choose dish and laundry detergents and all-purpose cleaners that are plant-based (corn, palm kernel, or coconut oil) and fragrance-free. Many “regular” detergents and cleaners on the market contain substances that cause cancer and harm the reproductive systems of laboratory animals and affect wildlife when they are flushed down the drain.
• Use baking soda in the wash cycle as a fabric softener or vinegar to soften clothes and reduce static cling. Just a little bit does the trick!
• Avoid using antibacterial soaps that, according to a 2000 World Health Organization (WHO) report, are helping to promote the growth of resistant bacteria. Use plain soap and warm water to wash hands instead.
• Chlorine bleach is highly caustic and can be fatal if swallowed. Bleach that goes down the drain produces reproductive, neurological, and immune-system toxins. Use a white vinegar/water solution that helps to kill mold, bacteria and viruses and can be used to clean bathrooms and windows.
• Avoid the use of all types of aerosols that can irritate eyes, noses and lungs. Aerosols contain toxic and flammable ingredients, as well as fragrances, that can produce allergic and asthmatic reactions.
Cleaning to protect the environment and your health is a noble undertaking that your body and your children will one day thank you for! We all need to do our part to stop the use of toxic products that harm our bodies and pollute our air and water.
Dr. Steven L. Levy is a chiropractor in Woodbury.