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No Kidding – Spring Cleaning Can Make You Sick

March 28, 2008

Springtime means spring cleaning for many Californians, but you may not realize that the cleaning products you're using could be making you sick.

A grassroots movement is underway to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals in the home. Dori Gilels, with the group Women's Voices for the Earth, says "green cleaning" parties are taking place across the state. People who attend these get-togethers learn how to make their own nontoxic cleaners using such inexpensive, everyday items as vinegar and baking soda. Gilels calls the events "a new version of the old Tupperware parties."

"Green cleaning parties are one way to raise public awareness about the need for ingredient disclosure and also the need for manufactures to replace hazardous ingredients with safer ones."

California law does not require manufacturers to list the ingredients in most household cleaning products, but a Senate bill making its way through the State Legislature would require manufacturers to, at least, list the ingredients on their Web sites.

Dr. Ann Blake, of Environmental and Public Health Consulting, says the concern is that even small amounts of certain chemicals found in everyday products can cause health problems.

"These have potential reproductive effects, and also affect small children's risks of asthma. We've seen studies showing that children that grow up in homes that use a lot of air fresheners and other household cleaners have a higher rate of asthma and allergies."

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Lori Abbott/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - CA