Cleaning Up the Toxins in Your Home

Cleaning Up the Toxins in Your Home

You might not realize it, but the very agents you buy to clean up your home may be making it dirtier and even more toxic. These agents, which range from glass and surface cleaners to floor cleaners and air fresheners, can make you – and your family – sicker than living in a grass hut with a dirt floor. In fact, scientists and researchers have proof that germs (bacteria et al) are actually good for you and your kids, triggering an immune response that can last a lifetime.

Biokleen Glass Cleaner

Biokleen Glass Cleaner

Many household cleaners, on the other hand, can make you sick if you breathe too much of their odor while using them. These dangerous fumes are called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Remember, smells are particulate (composed of molecules), so all that gunky, gagging smell is ending up in your lungs, or those of your children.

Once there, you can’t breathe them out again, because breath (and odors) takes a one-way trip from lungs into the bloodstream and lymphatic system. And a good thing it does, otherwise we’d all be zombies!

Once the particulates get into you, they can cause chaos and ill-health over the short- or long-term. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting dizzy and feeling sick to your stomach – two responses that should send a danger signal to your brain. Enough of these VOCs, however, and your brain may be too damaged to send any signals – an effect that “huffers” experience every day, or until they end up in the hospital or the morgue.

According to a survey on household drug abuse conducted in 2000, the 1990s saw huffing and other abuses of chemicals more than doubled, to 150 percent, most notably within the 12-17-year-old age group.

Don’t give your kids a head start as huffers. Drop your smelly cleaning supplies and vow to go green. Choose biodegradable glass cleaners, bleach alternative, earth-friendly air fresheners, all-natural furniture polishes and waxes, and even safe drain and floor cleaners.

If it’s a question of finances, you should know that most environmentally friendly cleaners are in the same price range as commercially available ones. Where you feel you should skimp to balance your household budget, remember that white vinegar is a superb window cleaner, drying without streaks and providing natural disinfectant and deodorizing abilities. Properly diluted, it goes from windows to walls and floors. It also goes into the bath, cleaning the toilet and getting rid of those ugly rings, and making the tub, shower and faucets sparkle. Most important, the smell evaporates quickly – a characteristic that can’t be said for chemical cleaners, whose fumes can linger for three days.

Also consider baking soda.  Because it is mildly abrasive, it can double as scouring powder, cleaning gooey or baked-on grease and food residue. It also removed odors, so sprinkle it inside guy’s athletic shoes in  the summer, trash cans, in a load of smelly clothing, or – as almost everyone knows – inside the fridge, where it whisks away the smell of onions, spicy foods and that long-forgotten, greenish potato that has started to liquefy.

Even if your kids aren’t huffing, exposing them to commercial cleaning chemicals puts them (and you) at the same risk in health terms. After the dizziness and nausea come hallucinations, irritability, and loss of judgment. Longer term, these chemicals can cause permanent damage to the brain, kidneys, heart, liver and lungs, causing loss of memory, failing hearing, and diminished capacity when it comes to coordination and concentration. Beyond that, the huffer may experience cardiac arrest, suffocation or choking, and the effect isn’t cumulative. That is, one episode of huffing can kill as quickly as long-term exposure.

By switching to green cleaners, you can help your youngsters avoid the temptation of aerosol cans containing ingredients that destroy both the central nervous system and the environment.

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