Common Cleaning Ingredients That Trigger Asthma
According to the World Health Organization, 235 million people suffer from asthma worldwide. WHO also reports that asthma is the most common chronic disease among children. Indoor allergens, air pollution and chemicals in the workplace are all areas of concern for allergy and asthma sufferers and cleaning contributes to all of them. Read on to learn about how you can mitigate some of these concerns.
Asthma, Allergies and Air Pollution
Indoor pollution is a growing issue and is much more pertinent for asthma and allergy sufferers. A recent analysis of air quality in Los Angeles found that as much petroleum pollution came from refined cleaning products used indoors as the amount expelled from vehicle exhaust pipes. But this is just a portion of the problem.
When it comes to immunological health, the list of polluting irritants goes beyond petroleum and many of these pollutants are all too common inside the house. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports that the air inside our homes can be two to five times more polluted as outdoor air, and one of the sources is conventional cleaning products that contain known respiratory irritants and allergens.
Chemical irritants in the workplace
Chemicals in cleaning products have an even more profound effect on professional cleaners. A study by the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that using chemical cleaning products may harm female workers’ lungs as much as smoking a pack of cigarettes every day for 10 to 20 years.
The study is thought to be one of the first to assess the effect of occupational cleaning product exposure and lung function. Unfortunately, the results aren’t good, and this is supported by the experience of our professional cleaners.
Viktoriya has worked in the cleaning industry for many years and noticed a huge difference in her health depending on her workplace.
“I worked at a few different cleaning businesses, as well as at a hotel and was working with chemicals and acidic solutions,” says Viktoriya, “within the first few weeks, I started to notice symptoms of allergies: runny nose, choking cough and itchy eyes, and a lack of energy. My health started to rapidly deteriorate, and I was prescribed an inhaler by my doctor… when I started with AspenClean, I noticed a difference in my health within the first month. My symptom severity lessened, and I stopped having immense coughing fits. I do not rely on my inhaler as much now. I contribute all the improvements to the fact that AspenClean uses organic, chemical-free solutions that do not trigger any respiratory problems.”
Common Chemical Asthmagens and Allergens in Conventional Cleaners
Many conventional cleaning products contain chemicals that are known asthmagens and allergens. What is worse is that some products marketed as ‘healthier’ alternatives also do too. Your best bet is to get familiar with some of the more common chemical culprits so that you can avoid using them while cleaning your home.
Formaldehyde: is a known skin irritant and allergy trigger, and also a carcinogen. It is found in laundry detergent, dishwashing detergent, and bleach cleaner as a synthetic preservative or anti-bacterial.
Fragrances: Synthetic fragrances found in cleaning products and air fresheners commonly contain a group of chemicals called ‘phthalates’ which can trigger asthma. Phthalates can be absorbed across skin and inhaled.
The second issue with fragrance is a lack of transparency. Fragrance can be listed on a product as a single ingredient, even though it can be made up of several constituents that don’t need to be named. This is because of a loophole that defines ‘perfume’ or ‘fragrance’ as a ‘trade secret’ designed to protect product formulations. However, protecting trade secrets shouldn’t take priority over consumer health, especially when they can contain chemicals as harmful as phthalates.
Quaternary ammonia compounds: or QUATS are a class of chemicals used as disinfectants, anti-bacterials and fabric softeners. QUATS are classified by the EWG as an asthmagen and studies have shown that QUATS can cause asthma in previously healthy people. The EWG’s ‘Guide to healthy cleaning’ found QUATS in 40% of antibacterial products.
Methylisothiazolinone: is a synthetic chemical used in consumer products for its antimicrobial properties. It is most often applied to cleaning products as a synthetic preservative. It is also found in ‘healthier’ alternatives despite numerous studies showing that exposure may cause respiratory irritation, skin sensitivities (including dermatitis), skin burns and eye damage.
Asthma and Allergy Friendly Cleaning
Chemicals in the home are unavoidable, but making considered home cleaning product choices will help cut back on unnecessary toxins. Now that you are aware of a few common asthmagens and allergens found in cleaning products, you can check your cleaning product labels and make sure they aren’t included.
If your products don’t have all their ingredients listed (which isn’t a legal obligation for cleaning products in North America), then you can use resources like the EWG’s ‘Guide to Healthy Cleaning’ to help you make more informed choices. Their database consists of over 2000 cleaning products which are rated from A to F based on available research on ingredients used and product transparency.
A guide like this is particularly useful for substantiating green claims made by brands to help you avoid greenwashing.
All AspenClean natural cleaning products received a straight A rating from the EWG and contain no synthetic chemicals known to aggravate asthma and allergies. They are also free of all tree nuts and only contain pure organic essential oils. All ingredients are listed in full using the (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) INCI format system to help consumers with asthma and allergies identify potential triggers.
There are also several Unscented AspenClean products available for people with sensitivities.