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Down and dirty: WVE on household hazards

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

You mop your floors, clean the tub, and scrub your toilet until it shines. Or, if you're like me, you make your significant other do it for you. But have you ever stopped to think about why we spend so much time keeping our living spaces clean?

If you answered "because otherwise it's gross," you're on the right track. Dirt is... well, dirty, and we all figure that by keeping clean and keeping bacteria and vermin at bay we're doing what's safe for ourselves and our families.

While they certainly wouldn't recommend that you give up cleaning altogether (can't win 'em all I guess), a new report from Women's Voices for the Earth questions the safety of many conventional cleaning products. From the Executive Summary of the report, titled Household Hazards: Potential Hazards of Home Cleaning Products:

Household Hazards was written to provide information on certain chemicals in cleaning products which may pose health hazards. Specifically, it looks at the research on cleaning chemicals such as monoethanolamine (MEA) and ammonium quaternary compounds linked to asthma, and glycol ethers, alkyl phenol ethoxylates and phthalates linked to reproductive harm (e.g. birth defects and fertility problems).

WVE also formed a national coalition -- the Safe Cleaning Products Initiative -- which asks companies to clearly list the ingredients of their products on the packaging and to replace potentially hazardous chemicals with safer ones. Want to take action? Sign their petition for safe cleaning products.

In my apartment we've switched to homemade cleaners and environmentally friendly products for everything but the toilet. What are your cleaning techniques?

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