Let's make EVERY WEEK a "Poison Prevention" Week
"Children Act Fast...So Do Poisons!" The Academy and the other members of the Poison Prevention Week Council urge parents to store harmful products out of their children's reach at all times or even better, avoid bringing them in their homes completely. Young children's growing capacities are to explore and experiment. Thus, such natural curiosity can lead to poisonings when household cleaning chemicals or medications are within reach, and parents are not paying close attention.
We encourage you to use this month as an opportunity to make sure that children in your home are as safe as possible from poisonings and the harmful effects of breathing toxic household cleaners.
The air in most homes is filled with fumes from petrochemical solvents added to cleaners to dissolve dirt. Did you know that the average household contains anywhere from three to 25 gallons of toxic materials, most of which are in cleaners. No law requires manufacturers of cleaning products to list ingredients on their labels or to test their products for safety. It’s up to you to make sure your home is not only clean, but also nontoxic.
Unfortunately,when you shop at local stores, it isn’t easy to identify which products contain hazardous ingredients. While cleaners are the only household products regulated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission under the Federal Hazardous Substances Labeling Act, their sellers are NOT required to reveal these products’ ingredients. These ingredients are considered “trade secrets,” so government regulations are actually designed to protect this proprietary information, not to protect human health or the environment.
When it comes to cleaners, the consumer has little to go on beyond the warning labels that manufacturers are required to put on their products and doing MSDS research on an internet search engine. The labels DANGER, WARNING and POISON give only a very general idea about the seriousness of the unknown substances a product contains. In fact, a New York Poison Control Center study found that 85 percent of product warning labels are inadequate. For example:
Ingredients from MSDS/Label:
Chemicals of concern: Butyl cellosolve
(also butoxyethanol, butyl oxitol, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether). A toxic synthetic solvent and grease cutter that can irritate mucous membranes and cause liver and kidney damage. Butyl cellosolve is also a neurotoxin that can
depress the nervous system and cause a variety of associated problems.
Typically, product label warnings apply only to a product’s immediate health effects; they don’t illuminate what happens when we use them over a long period of time. If you’re using common household cleaners, you’re likely to encounter the following chemicals (among many others), and the following effects, while cleaning:
Chlorinated phenols found in toilet bowl cleaners are toxic to respiratory and circulatory systems.
Diethylene glycol found in window cleaners depresses the nervous system.
Phenols found in disinfectants are toxic to respiratory and circulatory systems.
Nonylphenol ethoxylate, a common surfactant (detergent) found in laundry detergents and all-purpose cleaners, is banned in Europe; it has been shown to biodegrade slowly into even more toxic compounds.
Formaldehyde found in spray and wick deodorizers is a respiratory irritant and suspected carcinogen.
Petroleum solvents in floor cleaners damage mucous membranes.
Perchloroethylene, a spot remover, causes liver and kidney damage.
Butyl cellosolve, common in all-purpose, window and other types of cleaners, damages bone marrow, the nervous system, kidneys and the liver.
The list could fill a book. And it’s a book that would include thousands of other chemicals — some so dangerous that they’re found on lists of chemicals associated with Superfund toxic waste sites and in the toxins section of the U.S. Clean Air and Water Acts. To detoxify your mop closet for example, first rid it of cleaners that are toxic or that you suspect may be toxic. Again, you can be sure of this by entering MSDS and PRODUCT NAME into any search engine. IF the info says to wear neoprene gloves for any skin contact, or to use a respirator when breathing fumes, or that it must be disposed of following federal regulations if a spill occurs (because it's also toxic to the environment), you can be assured it's NOT the SAFEST Choice for your family OR the environment!
More than 2 million poisonings are reported each year to the 61 Poison Control Centers (PCCs) across the country. More than 90 percent of these poisonings occur in the home. The majority of non-fatal poisonings occur in children younger than six years old. And, poisonings are one of the leading causes of DEATH among adults.
National Poison Prevention Week, the third week in March each year, is a week nationally designated to highlight the dangers of poisonings and how to prevent them. WHY not focus on Poison Prevention EVERY WEEK?? In Fact, every SAY people can and do prevent poisonings. We invite you to review the information on this site and become actively involved in helping ensure the safety of children and adults in your home and your community.
Various researchers and advocacy groups have long acknowledged that typical household cleaners carried risks as well as benefits. The chemicals they contain can irritate the skin, the eyes and sometimes the lungs. They are abrasive and corrosive. But the prevailing wisdom was that they could be used without much harm to all but the most sensitive people, provided users followed the directions on the label.
Still, the 1,788 complaints about household cleaners that poured into the University of Arizona's Poison and Drug Information Center ranked third in 2006 after those about aspirin and related compounds and animal bites. Household Cleaner complaints are perennially ranked the second- or third-most common types called into poison-control centers nationally.
Several studies have linked household cleaners and asthma. Just this fall, a European study linked asthma risks with various cleaning sprays used by a sample of 3,500 people at home over nine years. Researchers found that asthma risks rose 30 to 50 percent in people who spray once a week, and by more than 100 percent when they spray four times a week.
Two years earlier, a British study concluded that infants are more likely to develop persistent wheeze — an asthma symptom — if their mothers were exposed to any of 15 disinfectants, bleaches, carpet and window cleaners, aerosols, air fresheners and varnishes. And in 2006, researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California-Berkeley concluded that 21 common household cleaners and air fresheners emit pollutants at levels that can lead to health risks, and at times exceed state guidelines.
Take the first step to protect your loved ones TODAY by getting rid of all your toxic household chemicals.
"Be warned though, as a Registered Nurse wanting to protect my family, almost ten years ago I choose to GO GREEN for my household necessity products. I boxed all my toxic cleaners for the trash man (cleaners like Cascade, Bleach, Tide, Furniture Polish, Lysol, and on and on). They, however, REFUSED to take the box explaining that they were EXTREMELY TOXIC to landfills... the SAME chemicals I had used in my home and around my kids/family! How scary is that!? Since going "GREEN" in my home, my kids no longer have allergies or attention deficit issues, I have no migraines when cleaning, and we're all a lot healthier"!
Linda/CMAS, BS, RN
Melaleuca Executive Director
210-497-7627 - EMC Home Office
Remember we can choose to GO GREEN for our household necessity cleaners (saving money in the process), and we will be happy to help you do that or answer any questions.