What is it? A colorless gas with a very recognizable odor. It is known as a building block chemical and is used in many common household cleaners used every day.
Where is it found? Polishing agents, like you would use for bathroom fixtures, sinks, and jewelry. Also found in glass & window cleaner.
Why should I avoid it? Have you ever wondered why your common bathroom and window cleaner don’t leave any streaks after you’ve cleaned? It’s because ammonia is an ingredient – and it evaporates, making streaks vanish. While most of us love the thought of streak-less bathrooms and windows, it comes at a cost. After ammonia evaporates, guess where it goes? Right into the air you’re breathing! “Ammonia is a powerful irritant,” says Donna Kasuska, chemical engineer and president of ChemConscious, Inc., a risk-management consulting company. “It’s going to affect you right away. The people who will be really affected are those who have asthma, and elderly people with lung issues and breathing problems. It’s almost always inhaled. People who get a lot of ammonia exposure, like housekeepers, will often develop chronic bronchitis and asthma.” Ammonia is definitely not something you want to be breathing is every time you clean your bathroom or windows.
Safer Alternatives – The Window Cloth! One of my favorite products because it leaves NO STREAKS, with NO CHEMICALS! Seriously guys, I am constantly blown away by how wonderful of a job this cloth does on windows and polishing! The first time I used it years ago, I was skeptical and definitely expected a few streaks to be left behind, but it truly leaves nothing behind except a beautiful, clear window!
What is it? QUATS are powerful disinfectant chemicals that are designed to kill germs. Usually these products claim to be antibacterial because they are certified by the EPA as pesticides.
Where is it found? Disinfectant wipes, sprays, disinfectant products that claim to kill germs, fabric softener liquid and sheets
Why should I avoid it? Unless you plan on doing a major surgery operation on your countertop, chances are it does not need to be wiped down with an antibacterial wipe containing QUATs. That would be like trying to kill a fruit fly with a cannonball – if you aimed well, it would totally kill it, but it’s also going to DESTROY whatever else it hits! While they do have the power to clean and sterilize things such as E. Coli & Staph, it comes with great risks to your health. Proving that these antibacterial products are overkill is the fact there is NOT ONE study claiming that those products sterilize any better than soap and warm water. QUATS are lung irritants that can lead to asthma and other breathing problems. They’re also skin irritants and can cause rashes when touched with bare skin. Did you know antibacterial wipes instruct the user to WASH THEIR HANDS after using?! Which kind of seems to defeat the purpose people are using them for in the first place. Craziness! QUATS linger around surfaces long after cleaning, and even contaminate food if it touches those surfaces – even days and weeks after the original wipe down.
Safer Alternatives – Say hello to the “everything” cloth!!! Norwex’s best selling EnviroCloth can take the place of the chemical-ridden antibacterial wipes. Norwex BackLoc contains silver in the microfiber, which makes it an antibacterial germ deactivator!
What is it? To make bleach, a direct electrical current is sent through a sodium chloride solution (table salt and water). This process “splits” the atoms leaving chlorine and the caustic soda. Both chlorine and caustic soda are incredibly dangerous. These two chemicals react together to create bleach.
Where is it found? All household cleaners and wipes containing bleach.
Why should I avoid it? Bleach is highly corrosive and even deadly, yet it’s still found in every grocery store and in most households! If you feel a burn, or experience a cough while using bleach, this is evidence of bleach’s corrosive properties happening inside your body. During my research, I discovered chlorine (in bleach) and dish soap can combine to make mustard gas – which was used as a chemical weapon in WW1! Holy smokes guys. You might think you’ll be safe wearing gloves and turning on the fan & keeping the door open while working with bleach, but the gas emitted by this chemical is still in the air you’re breathing and can easily make its way into your lungs. Bleach has been known to deteriorate the esophagus and lungs, and cause scarring in the respiratory tract. Yikes.
Safer Alternatives – Norwex Microfiber has the ability to remove up to 99% of bacteria from a surface, and instead of using bleach on your laundry, try our chorine-free Norwex Laundry Detergent. For extra tricky stains, try the Norwex Stain Remover – free of bleach & chlorine and always gets the job done for us!
What is it? Perchloroethylene, aka PCE, is a manufactured chemical used mostly as a cleaning agent. PCE is a colorless, nonflammable liquid with a faint, sweet odor. It is also a volatile organic compound, which means it can turn into a gas. It’s usually a liquid, capable of dissolving another substance.
Where is it found? Scouring cleaning supplies, stain removers, paint products, degreasing agents, and other household cleaners. It’s the solvent used by about 85% of U.S. dry cleaners.
Why should I avoid it? First of all, you need to know that there is no safe level of PCE. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has classified PCE as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans”. Studies have linked it to a slew of different cancers:
· Bladder cancer
· Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
· Multiple myeloma
· Rectal cancer
· Lung cancer
· Esophageal cancer
· Kidney cancer
· Cervical cancer
· Breast cancer
· Liver cancer
· Ovarian cancer
· Prostate cancer
Not only has this chemical been determined to play a role in cancer, but it is especially dangerous for pregnant women. It can cause a handful of horrible symptoms to expecting mothers and unborn babies. While small levels of PCE have been found in the air and water supply, I would recommend avoiding having it in your home by choice.
Safer alternatives – Norwex offers an awesome stain remover free of chlorine, bleach, and other harsh chemicals. There are also safer alternatives for removing grease or other sticky substances. One of my favorites is Cleaning Paste. You can get years of use out of one container. Cleaning Paste is “elbow grease in a jar”! Use it for scuff marks, grease, permanent marker, anything sticky, and so much more!
What are they? Any of a group of compounds used as preservatives in pharmaceutical and cosmetic products and in the food industry.
Where are they found? Skincare products such as lotions, scrubs, sprays, body and face wash, and even foods.
Pros & Cons? Parabens are tricky, because there actually is a PRO to this chemical. Parabens allow items like face wash, lotion, body wash, etc, to stay on your bathroom shelf for years, without growing bacteria. Most of us wouldn’t like the idea of rubbing bacteria-ridden lotion all over our bodies. So if you have a skincare product you’ve been holding onto for years, rest assured that if parabens are an ingredient, it is still fresh and ready to use. However; as with most chemicals that extend shelf life, there are a handful of CONS.
In 2004, a British study found traces of five parabens in the breast tissue of 19 out of 20 women studied. The study didn’t prove that parabens can cause cancer but identified that the parabens were able to penetrate the skin and remain within tissue. The fact that this chemical can stay under your skin for who knows how long doesn’t settle well with me!
Parabens are believed to disrupt hormone function by mimicking estrogen. Too much estrogen can trigger an increase in breast cell division and growth of tumors, which is why paraben use has been linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues.
So with parabens, I would err on the side of caution. There are so many safer substitutes and a handful of skincare brands who have promised not to use parabens in their products. If there are products available that are safer, why not use them instead of risking it?! Using products with parabens isn’t terrible in small quantities, but my advice would be to start slowly switching over your products that contain parabens, to paraben-free products for happier skin!
Safer Substitutes – Norwex offers a slew of skincare products, from soaps and lotion, to deodorant and eye creams!