Environmental contaminents such as perfumes and cleaning products can cause problems for people with lung disease. Products advertised as “green” or “natural” may also contain ingredients that cause health problems. Most household and cleaning products such as soaps, polishes and grooming supplies often contain harmful chemicals.

Some products release dangerous chemicals, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Other harmful ingredients include ammonia and bleach. Even natural fragrances such as citrus can react to produce dangerous pollutants indoors. VOCs and other chemicals released when using cleaning supplies contribute to chronic respiratory problems. Past studies link exposure to chemicals from cleaning supplies to occupational asthma and other respiratory illnesses

Products containing VOCs and other toxic substances can include:

  1. Aerosol spray products, including health, beauty and cleaning products;
  2. Air fresheners;
  3. Chlorine bleach;
  4. Detergent and dishwashing liquid;
  5. Dry cleaning chemicals;
  6. Rug and upholstery cleaners;
  7. Furniture and floor polish; and
  8. Oven cleaners

Prevent Harm From Cleaning Products

Read all labels on cleaning supplies and household products before you buy them. Choose products that do not contain or have reduced amounts of VOCs, fragrances, irritants and flammable ingredients. Manufacturers are not obligated by U.S. law to list all ingredients in consumer products. Products that are labeled “green” do not necessarily mean they are safer. Avoid using air fresheners.

As a safer cleaning alternative, warm water and soap often will do the trick, especially at home. Baking soda is good for scrubbing. A mix of vinegar and water can clean glass.

When using cleaning or household products, keep the area well ventilated. Open windows and doors. Never use cleaning products in a small, enclosed space.