Environmental experts have established that many households contain approximately 62 toxic chemicals and although manufacturers state that there are only small amounts present and unlikely to cause any concern, if you are constantly being exposed to these toxins day in day out then the build up over a period of time can be considerable. With children who have autism already struggle to detoxify this can be detrimental for them. Ingredients in common household products have been linked to asthma, cancer, hormone disturbances, reproductive issues and neurotoxicity.

These are some of the most common toxic chemicals found in household products:-

PHTHALATES

These have been widely used since the 1950's. They are used in the plastic industry to make the plastic softer so when it is bent it does not become brittle and crack, for example food packaging or storage and drink bottles. Because they are not chemically bound to the plastic, this allows the phthalates to be continuously released into the food, drink or environment. They are also used in many fragranced household products,  for example, air fresheners & soaps but also if the manufacturers are stating "fragrance" on the label then there will be a good chance that Phthalates will be an ingredient but due to proprietary laws, companies do not have to disclose what’s in their scents so you most probably will not see phthalates listed on the label.

 

Phthalates are known as endocrine disruptors. The endocrine systems includes the pineal gland, pituitary gland, pancreas, ovaries, testicles, thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, hypothalamus, gastrointestinal tract and the adrenal glands. Phthalates can and have been known to cause an array of hormonal dysfunctions in all these areas.

Exposure to phthalates predominantly arises through inhalation, but it can occur through direct contact with the skin using "fragranced" products, once these chemicals are absorbed they will go straight to the organs. 

TETRACHLORETHYLENE/PERCHLOROETHYLENE/PCE/PERC

These have been widely used since the early 1990's, more than 80% is used within the dry cleaning industry to dissolve grease, oils and waxes without harming the fabrics, uses also include, water repellants, paint removers, shoe polish, printing inks, glues, sealants, polishes, and lubricants, as well as carpet and upholstery cleaners. Tetrachlorethylene is a liquid that evaporates into the air and breaks down slowly so exposure can be from inhaling or by direct skin contact but once it has been evaporated into the air, it can also settle into the soil and pass into underground water. Tetrachlorethylene has been linked to certain cancers, including cancers of the oesophagus, cervix, kidneys, bladder and lymphomas. Other known health reactions are irritation to the skin, eyes and upper respiratory tract, causing itching and irritation to the skin, headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting and long term exposure has been linked to liver, kidney and central nervous system damage.

TRICLOSAN

First developed in the 1970's for use in hospital surgical scrubs. Now commonly used in household products that are labelled "antibacterial" but also found in toothpaste, shampoos, deodorants, shower gel, fabrics, toys,  cleaning products and cosmetics too. Studies have linked Triclosan to skin irritation, endocrine disruption, bacterial and antibiotic resistance and also a major water pollutant.

A report in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, entitled "Consumer Antibacterial Soaps; Effective or just risky?" (2007) deduced that antibacterial soaps showed no health benefits over plain soaps. You can read more about the study here:-

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070815173055.htm

QUARTERNARY AMMONIUM COMPOUNDS (QAC) OR QUATS

Widely used as an adjunct to hygiene & cleaning products including shampoos, conditions, hair products, fabric softener or sheets and most household cleaners which are labelled "antibacterial".

Known to cause skin irritation, respiratory issues, disruption to the endocrine system and are toxic to aquatic life when washed away.

Exposure can be topical, inhalation and ingestion.  QAC's can cause mild to severe burns of the skin, depending on the product and concentration, other health issues may include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, anxiety and convulsions. 

2-BUTOXYETHANOL

Found in household cleaning products, including multipurpose cleaners, window cleaners, liquid soaps and cosmetics.

Exposure through skin and ingestion. Can cause irritation to the nose, mucous linings, throat, eyes and skin, also vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, headaches, dizziness, light headedness and fainting, as well as damage to the kidneys and liver.

 

AMMONIA

Found in glass & window cleaners, floor cleaners, kitchen & toilet cleaners, polishing products for sinks and jewellery. Ammonia is a colourless gas which is a known irritant, it has a strong suffocating odor. When mixed with water becomes ammonium hydroxide which can cause irritation and burns. Ammonia is not highly flammable but containers of ammonia could explode if exposed to high heat. Exposure is mainly due to inhalation, causing burning of the nose, throat and respiratory tract, coughing and shortness of breath. When Ammonia gas  comes into contact with the skin, it will cause burns or irritation, direct contact with ammonia hydroxide can cause a freezing of the skin, similar to frostbite. The gas can irritate the eyes and in extremes cause permanent damage. Ammonia can also create a poisonous gas if it’s mixed with bleach.

CHLORINE

Found in washing detergents for washing machine & dishwasher, chlorine bleach, chlorinated disinfectant, scouring agents, mould & mildew removers and toilet cleaners. A lot of household cleaning products contain Chlorine, which is sometimes listed as sodium hypochlorite or hypochlorite. Exposure due to inhalation can cause irritation of the mucous linings of the nose and throat, the lungs and the eyes. Skin exposure can damage the skin in various severities depending on concentration.

Chlorine is also used in the bleaching process of paper so when purchasing parchment paper, toilet paper, toilet tissues, coffee filters, paper towels or napkins choose an unbleached alternative.

SODIUM HYDROXIDE

Found in household cleaning products such as oven cleaners and drain unblockers. Exposure mainly due to inhalation, where it can cause irritation of the upper respiratory tract, a severe sore throat, burning, coughing and breathing difficulties Direct skin contact over a period of time or prolonged use can cause dermatitis.