Thursday, December 22, 2011

Part 2: How your Laundry Detergent is affecting Your Health

Deutsch: Linux Waschmittel, verschiedene Mitte...Image via Wikipedia

 This is the second in a two-part article describing how the detergents that you use can affect your family's health. As manufacturers formulate new and improved formulas for cleaning, the American public is paying with their health.

This post will explore the role of phosphates in detergents and how they may be adversely affecting our health.


Phosphates-why are they in our detergents?


Phosphates are the main cleaning ingredient in many laundry detergents.  They break down dirt particles and remove stains by softening the water and allowing suds to form.  This helps the detergent work better.  The disturbing fact about phosphates is that as of March, 2008, 25 states issued bans on them in detergents.  15 additional states banned them as of July, 2010.  What gives?


Phosphate Dangers


Well, residuals from phosphates can cause irritation and problems such as nausea, diarrhea and rashes.

Apart from the damage that it does in the human body is the fact that phosphates in detergents have caused environmental issues since it creates in waterways increased algae growth which chokes off rivers and lakes.  Phosphates suffocates salmon and other fish and  they release toxins that deplete oxygen in those waterways. They also remain present even after waste water treatment.

This information poses more reasons to read the labels and to be selective about the detergents that we select since they not only hurt family members but have an impact on the environment and the lives of others as well.


Fabric Softeners-A breath of fresh air?


Fabric softeners really smell good, but is there something to be concerned about with them, as well? Well, all that glitters is certainly not gold.  The same is true here.

Some of the potential dangers of fabric softeners include

  • Benzyl acetate – Linked to pancreatic cancer
  • Limonene - another known carcinogen.
  • A-Terpinol - can cause respiratory and nervous system problems.
  • Ethyl Acetate - listed as a narcotic on the EPA Hazardous waste list.
  • Camphor - can cause central nervous system disorders. 
  • Chloroform - which is a neurotoxin, anesthetic and carcinogen.

In Summary

It makes sense to read the label and avoid the list of dangerous chemicals that are in our detergents.  Substitute organic, environmental friendly cleaners for the popular ones containing chemicals and irritants.  Your health will thank you.


"Look what's lurking on your freshly washed clothes"
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