It’s a cold and rainy New York weekend — a good time to clean the house. But after about an hour, you don’t feel well and need to take a break.
Your spouse and kids think you just want to curl up in bed and watch TV. Maybe. Or maybe you really are sick.
The cleaning products we use can contain hazardous chemicals. One 2017 report showed that using bleach weekly can raise the chances you could acquire chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Bleach and ammonia are among the cleaning products that have been connected to asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Hazardous chemicals also can be present in certain degreasers that contain the chemical known as 2-butoxyethanol, also called butyl cellosolve or ethylene glycol butyl ether (EGBE), as well as disinfectants.
You can take in these chemicals through your skin or by inhaling them. The federal government has listed EGBE as possibly being toxic to the skin and eyes, the respiratory system, central nervous system, liver and kidneys.
Both the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have labeled EGBE as a “hazardous substance.” EGBE, however, is just one of many cleaners that potentially can cause harm to the user.
Even the eco-friendly products that have emerged on the market are not guaranteed to eliminate all health hazards, experts said.
So how can you clean up your housecleaning routine?
Wearing gloves, goggles and long-sleeved shirts is a good start. If you’re working in a room with a window, open it. If the room has a fan, use it. Steam cleaning is an effective, lower-hazard way to clean, and baking soda and vinegar are considered to be natural cleaning products without harmful additives.
Some cleaning products have been known to cause life-threatening illnesses. If you develop a serious condition that your doctor thinks could be linked to the chemicals in your household cleaners, visit an attorney who works with product liability cases for an evaluation of your circumstances.