Health isn't just about how many Calories we eat or how much we exercise. Holistic health includes topics such as our sleeping habits, nutrition principles, how our body systems function, mental and emotional health, and the health of the environment with which we surround ourselves, to name just a few.
Spring Cleaning - How Clean is Clean These Days?
Spring is a time of year for shaking out the old dust and grime of a pent-up winter and refreshing our spaces, often with a deep "spring clean".
In pursuit of health, we often focus on merely what goes in our mouths and the energy we expend in our exercise. This, however, is a rather limited view of health. One other aspect of our health is the environment with which we surround ourselves - including our home environment. Our skin is not a hard shield but a permeable membrane, and our lungs are impenetrable filters, but allow particles besides the gases in our air into our bodies. Especially in this time of year of spring cleaning, this bears the questions - How healthy is my home environment? What's in the air I breathe at home? What's touching my skin and the surfaces I encounter in my home?
There is growing concern about what's in the products that we use around the house, cleaning products including. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a "non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment" through research and educational materials, many common cleaning products can contain compounds that are toxic to our health over time. Such compounds can be carcinogenic or induce asthma in normally healthy people as they build up in our systems as we are exposed to them over time. Or, even if not proven to us humans, some chemicals within the cleaners that we use can cause harm to wildlife and plant life as they are washed down our drains and subsequently leaked into natural spaces.
According to this group, "A new EWG analysis of more than 400 cleaning products released last month showed only about a quarter of them adequately disclose their ingredients. Many companies use vague terms, such as 'preservative' or 'colorant,' instead of listing the specific chemicals they use. More than two-thirds of products list only 'perfume' or 'fragrance,' terms that can mask potentially harmful, persistent chemicals such as galaxolide, a skin irritant and possible hormone disruptor that’s highly toxic to aquatic life.
Moreover, most cleaning products contain ingredients that can cause harmful respiratory effects. They include common antibacterial agents such as sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach) and quaternary ammonium compounds, or 'quats.'"
Yikes! There is a lot to learn about the chemicals contained in our cleaning products and how they affect us humans and the health of our world as we use them. To learn more, start with this interesting article by EWG:
"Time for Cleaning Products to Come Clean on Ingredients" - http://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2016/05/time-cleaning-products-come-clean-ingredients
Wondering how your cleaning products stack up? Check out the EWG's Guide to Healthy Cleaning! The guide is a database where you can search from thousands of different cleaning products that EWG has rated for compounds including those that are of respiratory concern, skin irritants, developmental & reproductive toxins, cancerous, and those raising environmental concerns.
"Environmental Working Group's Guide to Healthy Cleaning" - http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners