Multi-purpose cleaners and powerful disinfectants are usually not thought of as harmful. After all, people buy them intentionally to clean their indoor environment and to make them feel safer.
However, the current pandemic has led to major purchasing habit changes, including investing in more frequent use of powerful chemical cleaners and disinfectants, often without checking the label to assess possible risks to human health and the environment. Many of these cleaners and disinfectants contain harsh chemicals that often do more harm than good to one’s health and the environment. Here are five reasons why taking time to read the label and check the packaging, is more important than ever:
Impact on human health
The majority of off-the-shelf products used to disinfect contain the active ingredientes like quaternary ammonium (known and quats) and sodium hypochlorite (bleach). Various studies show that the regular use of these disinfectants has negative health effects, including an increased risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Quats in particular can be toxic if inhaled and are also known to cause birth defect. The chemicals also contribute to poor indoor air quality that can aggravate asthma.
Impact on children
Research also shows that fetuses and very young children are particularly sensitive to the effects of toxic chemicals. Health effects from exposure to toxic chemicals may not show up for years, hence the importance of taking precautionary measures and protecting children from potential health effects in the long run.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) names phosphorus, nitrogen, ammonia, and chemicals grouped under the term “Volatile Organic Compounds” (VOCs) as the worst environmental hazards in household cleaners. There is high probability that the disinfectant product you are using contains ammonia, a multipurpose household cleaner that is commonly found in many cleaning products that sanitize and disinfect, and nitrogen, found in glass cleaners and other surface cleaning products. After using these products and rinsing them away, they often remain active even post passing through treatment facilities. As a result, they end up returned to rivers and lakes where they build and reduce the general quality of drinking water.
All purpose cleaner bottles, multipurpose floor cleaners, and disinfectant cleaning products are also a contributer to air pollution and smog. When windows are opened, VOCs are released to the environment. The pollution impact is so severe that in some areas that legislation to ban these VOCs in household cleaners in some areas have been put in place. became necessary.
Demand for products such as disinfectants, hand sanitiser, disposable gloves and disposable masks continues to grow, adding to considerable waste. When buying your next cleaning or disinfection projects, notice how the vast majority of all household product packaging comes in plastic that are not biodegradable and accumulate in our oceans.
The pandemic need not weaken the position and determination of sustainability-conscious people as there are alternatives for multi-usage devices that help protect the environment, safeguard your health, while improving indoor air quality. Spend more time researching and reading labels to make safer decisions!