Spring Cleaning: What’s in Your Spray Bottles?

image086-3A February 2018 issue of Newsweek magazine discussed the impact of cleaning sprays and products on women’s lungs being as damaging to those who regularly use them as a habit of smoking 20 cigarettes a day.

Scientists at Norway’s University of Bergen tracked 6,000 people who regularly used cleaning products over a period of two decades, according to research published in American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The scientists advised avoiding cleaning products and instead use microfiber cloths and water. Some household chemicals contain chemicals called VOCs – volatile organic compounds. These chemicals evap- orate into the air when we use them or even while they are being stored. Some examples of VOCs are acetone, benzene and formaldehyde. They may be found in detergents, furniture polish, air fresheners, carpet cleaners, oven cleaners, pesticides and fungicides, paints, paint strippers and varnishes.

Formaldehyde is a VOC that may be found in carpets, furniture, shelving and flooring. This can be why the smell of a new sofa or soft furnishing sets off your allergies or makes asthma worse.

Never mix bleach or any bleach-contain- ing product with any cleaner containing ammonia. The gases created from this combination can be deadly!

Look for products that are labeled allergy friendly, as these have lower lev- els of volatile chemicals and are usually fragrance-free. Avoid sprays and opt for solid or liquid cleaning products. Try baking soda for scrubbing. A mix of vin- egar and water can clean glass. Also be sure there is adequate ventilation when you clean.

The American Lung Association tells us that manufacturers are not obligated by U.S law to list all ingredients in consumer Products that are labeled “green” do not necessarily mean they are safer.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a list of products that meet its safer choice requirements for cleaning and other needs. They include cleaning prod- ucts for home and vehicles. Visit www.epa. gov/saferchoice/products