What's Lurking Under Your Counters? Examining Hidden Toxins in the Home

Andrew Levine
Partner, Attorney
illustration of toxic household cleaners

Clean is good. A clean home is desirable and lovely. Stores are stocked to the brim with commercial cleaning products. They are so heavily advertised and such a part of our culture and daily experience that most shoppers – homeowners and apartment dwellers in particular – don’t really think twice before buying them.

These are products we keep under our kitchen sinks, in our utility closets, in our bathrooms, in our basements, garages, and sheds. But many people are simply unaware of the very real health hazards that can and do result from using these products.

The real question is: are you really cleaning your home or are you spreading toxic chemicals?

Toxic Chemicals in Household Cleaners – Commercial Cleaning Products Contain Toxins and Poisons

We may think we are cleaning our eating utensils, dishes, pots and pans, ovens, sinks, refrigerators and so on, but the sad reality is that when we clean with toxic cleaners, we are just spreading poison around. For example, your refrigerator may appear to be absolutely spotless, but the reality is that the toxic cleaning chemicals on the sponge are eventually absorbed by the very food we eat.

The toxins become airborne within the refrigerator and the microbes actually attach to and contaminate the food. Though they may be tiny particles and unseen by the naked eye, they are indeed there. And even though you wash your apple or berries, the contaminants may remain. We eat them. Over time, they build up and may cause or contribute to cancer.

The “Hall of Shame” – a List of Potentially Dangerous Cleaning Products

In an online CBS News story, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) details numerous dangerous common household cleaning products. According to the report, some of the ingredients are known to cause extremely serious results, including, but not limited to cancer, blindness, fetal harm, and reproductive disorders.A partial list of the products includes the following:

  • Comet Disinfectant Cleanser Powder – this extremely common household product has been around for years and is used to clean sinks, tubs, toilets and more. It has been found to contain a whopping 146 chemicals, some of which may cause reproductive disorders, cancer, and asthma. The worst part? The most poisonous chemicals – benzene, chloroform, and formaldehyde – are not even noted on the warning label.
  • Mr. Clean, Easy-Off and Formula 409 – these products contain asthma-inducing chemicals – quaternary ammonium compounds – and may actually cause asthma in asthma-free individuals
  • Ajax, Dynamo and Fab Ultra liquid laundry detergents (Phoenix Brands) – contains formaldehyde, a potentially cancer-causing chemical
  • Simple Green Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner – contains 2-butoxyethanol, a chemical that is easily absorbed through the skin and damages red blood cells
  • Spic and Span Multi-Surface and Floor Cleaner – disruptive and harmful to the hormonal system and environment
  • Scrubbing Bubbles – Antibacterial Bathroom Cleaner & Extend-A-Clean Mega Shower Foamer – contains the chemical butoxydiglycol, harmful to the lungs
  • Mop & Glo Multi-Surface Floor Cleaner – this product contains the chemical DEGME, also known as methoxydiglycol and should be particularly noted for its potential to harm the unborn child
  • Glade Air Fresheners and Sprays – this product is commonly abused by “huffing” and can cause death
  • Febreze Air Effects – EWG’s tests reveal that 89 air contaminants are released in every spray

The Good News: Healthy, Natural, Nontoxic Cleansers are Widely Available, Inexpensive

Healthy, safe, non-toxic cleaning products are available pretty much everywhere you normally shop, including most grocery stores. In fact, you probably have a few of these products in your cupboards right now.Many people are simply unaware of their disinfecting and cleaning power, for example:

  • Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) – this versatile, inexpensive ingredient kills viruses, disinfects, deodorizes and much more
  • White distilled vinegar – fights bacteria, cuts through grease and grime, removes odor and more
  • Hydrogen peroxide – natural disinfectant – there’s a reason your mom always had a bottle handy for scraped knees and splinters
  • Rubbing/isopropyl alcohol – a potent disinfectant
  • Washing soda (sodium carbonate) – laundry booster, cleaner,
  • Castille soap – natural, vegetable-based nontoxic soap
  • Lemons and lemon juice – natural antibacterial cleanser fights bacteria, germs
  • Essential oils – often known primarily for their distinctive aromas, these concentrated natural oils, primarily from plants, have great cleansing and antibacterial properties.

You Do Have a Choice for Your Home and the Environment

Every person leaves a footprint. Are we helping ourselves and the planet or are we actually doing harm? Thankfully, in what may be called a “green movement,” more and more individuals are becoming aware of their choices. We are a health-conscious society. It is up to us to make the best choices possible.

Legal Options for Health Affected by Hazardous Household Cleaning Products

Raphaelson & Levine, New York City Toxic Exposure Attorneys, is committed to a cleaner, greener world.

If you feel your health has been compromised by the use of a toxic cleanser, please contact us or call 212-268-3222 for a complimentary consultation.

Andrew Levine
Partner, Attorney
Andrew J. Levine is a partner at Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm, in New York, NY. A graduate of Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University. Mr. Levine has been featured in New York Magazine as one of New York’s “Top Personal Injury Litigators” and recognized by Super Lawyers as a “Top Rated Personal Injury Attorney in New York.”

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