Are Cleaning Products Hazardous To Your Health?
Question: I just found out that the products I have been using to clean my home are toxic! Have I damaged my health by using these products?
Answer: First of all, what is meant by toxicity? Somewhere on the order of 70,000 different chemicals have been identified as toxic. A chemical produces a toxic effect at concentrations that alter the normal state of the organism. For many chemicals, there is a dose at which there are no toxic effects, there is a dose at which the effects are reversible, and there is a dose at which the effects may have permanent consequences. An example of some toxic chemicals that many of us are exposed to regularly are caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol. At doses normally consumed by the average person, the "high" effect felt by the individual response can be quite different. One person may be able to drink 5 cups of coffee with out visible effects, while another person might get the shakes after 2 cups of coffee. This is an example of how the dose and response varies from one person to the next. At some point, each of these chemicals can have a much more serious effect on the individual. At extremely high doses (much higher than the average person can consume on a regular basis), caffeine can be a mutagen (capable of making changes at the cellular level), a potential teratogen (capable of affecting the fetus) and a probable carcinogen as well. At high doses, nicotine, the active ingredient in tobacco, can be a very potent poison causing nausea, vomiting, convulsions, and even death. And, at high doses, alcohol can cause birth defects, brain damage, coma, and death.