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Household products – killing us slowly?

We all knew that breathing in the chemicals we use to clean the sink and scrub the toilet made us feel a little oozy, but never did we think that it could be this bad.

A new study just released by South Coast Air Quality Management District reveals that household products have now beaten out factories, gas stations and incinerators in causing smog in Los Angeles.

That’s right – air pollution is actually coming from each squirt of your perfume, each swish of your toilet bowl cleaner, each application of your deodorant and each pour of your laundry detergent.



And if the outdoor air is being that heavily affected by something used inside, what could the air look like in your house? The EPA has said for years now that our indoor air pollution levels are two to five times worse than outdoors. This is where we sleep, eat, relax and visit with friends and family.

Twenty years ago, the three major childhood illnesses were chickenpox, measles and mumps. Today they are asthma, ADD and cancer. And women who work in the home have a 54 percent higher death rate than women who work outside of the home. Could there be a connection somewhere in all of this?



I won’t try to make it sound worse than it is – the No. 1 cause of smog is still vehicle emissions. But the study predicts household products will be No. 1 by 2020. That is mostly because vehicle emissions have more regulations placed upon them all the time. But producers of our household items are rarely forced to be responsible for what they put on our shelves.

A March 9 article in the L.A. Times quoted California Air Resources Board spokesman Jerry Martin as saying, “It’s the same stuff that comes out of a tailpipe or a smokestack. We’re talking hundreds of different kinds of products, stuff everyone uses.” From the sounds of it, we might as well park our cars in our living rooms and leave them running.

We have been taught to fear bacteria, germs and viruses. And we have been led to believe that the only way to kill them is to use toxic chemicals. However, the real threat to our health seems to be those very chemicals.

Luckily, there are other options. A quick spray of vinegar followed by a spray of hydrogen peroxide has been found to be more effective at killing bacteria, molds and viruses than bleach, but it won’t kill us.

Take a positive step: Choose green cleaning products and keep your family and your world clean and healthy.

You can find such products made by Mountain Green and other earth- and people-friendly companies at Alpine Natural Foods in Frisco and increasingly at large chain grocery stores. Or call Summit Recycling Project at (970) 668-5703 for help in making your own products at home.

Holly Kingsley is the education coordinator for Summit Recycling Project, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to minimizing waste in Summit County and surrounding areas.


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