What Products Should I Watch Out For?
According to the Cleveland Clinic3, consumers should pay special attention to the following product categories.
1. Laundry detergents
The packaging of laundry detergent can be appealing to small children. The bottles are colorful, and the pods are soft and bright, resembling candy or small toys. However, detergent can cause great harm if ingested. Detergents contain enzymes to loosen stains and ground-in dirt. Cationic (as opposed to anionic or nonionic) enzymes are the most toxic, causing nausea, shock, convulsions, and comas. Nonionic enzymes can irritate skin and eyes.
The detergent pods have also caused harm to children (and even teens) in recent years, causing vomiting, severe breathing issues, burns to the esophagus, and comas.
2. All-purpose cleaners
Many cleaners contain detergents, grease-cutting agents, solvents, and disinfectants. In addition to being poisonous if swallowed, many cleaners can irritate the eyes, throat, nose, and skin.
Hopefully your children will not attempt a science experiment (aka TikTok challenge) with your cleaning products, but it is worth noting that mixing cleaners can also be extremely harmful, especially those containing bleach and ammonia. The combination of the two produces a gas called chloramine, which can cause breathing issues and is potentially fatal.
Did You Know? Pine- and citrus-based cleaners contain terpenes, one class of VOCs. Formaldehyde has been detected in these products and can increase the risk of developing asthma.
The sharp odor of bleach indicates its toxicity. Chlorine bleach can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat. It can also irritate the skin or cause dermatitis if you come in direct contact with it.
If ingested, bleach can cause damage to the esophagus and stomach as well as prolonged nausea and vomiting. In some cases, it can even cause death.
4. Dishwashing detergent
While hand dishwashing detergents are milder than automatic dishwashing detergents, know that either can cause skin irritation or burns. If swallowed, the detergents can cause irritation to the mouth and throat and cause nausea.
FYI: Be wary when a product is listed as “green.” This label does not necessarily mean that the product is free of harmful substances.
5. Oven cleaners
Many oven cleaners contain lye, a corrosive agent that can burn skin and eyes and cause severe tissue damage. And lye is often fatal if swallowed.
It is worthwhile to find a product without lye. If you do use a product with lye, you may want to clean the oven when your children are out of the home and be sure that the area is well ventilated.
6. Air fresheners
Air fresheners, including sprays, diffusers, incense, and candles, can contribute to poor air quality. Just the opposite of what we are trying to achieve (fresh air!). VOCs that are emitted from air fresheners can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat; asthma attacks; difficulty breathing; nausea; and migraine headaches. The amount of VOCs emitted depends on the composition of the fragrance, not on the type of air freshener.
7. Furniture and rug cleaners
Some upholstery and rug cleaners emit fumes that have been associated with cancer and liver damage. They can also cause dizziness, nausea, and disorientation.
Furniture polish can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, throat, lungs, and windpipe.
Did You Know? Two nontoxic products that are great for cleaning are baking soda and vinegar.