July 23, 2024

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Common Household Cleaning Products Release Hundreds of Harmful Chemicals

Common Household Cleaning Products Release Hundreds of Harmful Chemicals


Scientists Warn: Common Household Cleaning Products Release Hundreds of Harmful Chemicals.

A peer-reviewed study conducted by scientists from the Environmental Working Group has unveiled unsettling details regarding the potential health risks associated with everyday household cleaning products. The study analyzed 30 cleaning products, including multipurpose cleaners, glass cleaners, air fresheners, and more.

The research findings, which were published on September 12th in the journal “Chemosphere,” indicate that these everyday items may release hundreds of harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs).


Researchers tested both conventional products and “green” cleaning products and identified a total of 530 unique VOCs among the 30 products. Of these, 193 VOCs were deemed harmful, with potential health risks such as respiratory damage, increased cancer risk, developmental and reproductive impacts.


Common Household Cleaning Products Release Hundreds of Harmful Chemicals



VOCs from cleaning products can impact indoor and outdoor air quality, with indoor pollution levels being 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor air in some cases, and even up to 10 times higher in certain estimates. Some products can release VOCs over the course of days, weeks, or even months.

“This study serves as a warning for consumers, researchers, and regulatory agencies, raising awareness about the potential risks associated with the multitude of chemicals entering indoor air,” said Dr. Alexis Temkin, Senior Toxicologist at EWG. “Our research emphasizes a way to reduce exposure to harmful VOCs – by choosing ‘green’ products, especially those labeled ‘green’ and ‘fragrance-free’.”

The study concluded that products labeled as “green” release fewer VOCs on average compared to traditional products, approximately half as much. “Fragrance-free” green products had the lowest VOC emissions, nearly eight times less than conventional products and four times less than scented green products.

This pattern also applies to the number of harmful VOCs classified in the products. On average, green products only emitted four harmful chemicals, while scented green products emitted about 15, and conventional products emitted 22.

This indicates that choosing green or fragrance-free green cleaning products is a wise choice for consumers concerned about indoor air quality and potential health risks.

The health risks posed by VOCs are particularly concerning, as many Americans may encounter them in their workplaces. Research suggests that individuals working in the cleaning industry have a 50% higher risk of asthma and a 43% higher risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Women working in this field also face an increased risk of lung cancer. Children’s health may also be at risk, with some studies linking increased use of certain indoor cleaners during pregnancy and infancy to a higher risk of childhood asthma and wheezing.

Samara Gaylor, Senior Director of EWG’s Healthy Cleaning Science, stated, “These cleaning products may harm our health but also have the potential to harm the environment.”

The results of this study not only impact human health but also have environmental implications. The emissions of volatile organic compounds from consumer products contribute to outdoor air pollution, exacerbating existing environmental issues. A study from 2018 estimated that half of the air pollution from volatile organic compounds is attributed to consumer goods.

“Using green cleaning products is a simple way to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals. This is particularly important for the health of women and children,” Gaylor emphasized.




Common Household Cleaning Products Release Hundreds of Harmful Chemicals

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