Monday, October 1, 2012

What's Wrong with Chlorine Bleach

 Chlorine bleach is bad news for your health and the environment.

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  • Chlorine bleach has been linked to the increased amount of childhood illnesses such as cancer, asthma, autism, ADD, and allergies.
  • The fumes from chlorine bleach can affect the nervous system, the respiratory system, and our immune system.
  • Bleach is highly caustic. It can burn skin and eyes and even cause blindness.
  • People with eczema will find wearing clothes laundered with bleach exasperates their skin condition. 
  • Bleach can be accidentally mixed with other household chemicals to create dangerous gases. Mixing ammonia with bleach creates a toxic gas that affects you instantly. Years ago, while mopping, my mom forgot there was already ammonia in a pail and added bleach. She ended up having to call an ambulance as she couldn't breathe or see.
  • Bleach used in our homes always ends up in nature. There it can create organochlorines (furans & dioxins), which are suspected carcinogens as well as reproductive, neurological, and immune-system toxins. 
  • Bleach is a pesticide. If eating organic foods or using organic skin care products is important to you, then avoiding use of pesticides in cleaning and laundry is something else to consider.

What are alternatives to chlorine bleach?

Image via Green Cupboards

If you're using bleach for laundry, consider using oxygen bleach. You can identify powder oxygen bleach because the ingredients will say "100% sodium percarbonate." The ingredient of liquid oxygen bleach is "hydrogen peroxide."

Borax and washing soda are other great laundry bleach alternatives. I hear great things about lemon juice, sunlight, and white vinegar (add up to 1 cup with the detergent).  You could also think about not wearing white clothes and using white linens. Just sayin'. I love my stone colored towels and cream colored sheets.

If you're using bleach to kill germs, you have lots of green options. Seventh Generation makes a line of great botanical disinfectants. Bio-Kleen's Power23 is a disinfecting spray. You could also mix your own. Here's one recipe that kills germs and mold: 2 cups distilled water and 20 drops tea tree oil.

I should admit, I'm a little weary of this urge our society has to kill germs. Why are we killing them? Chances are no one in our house has swine or bird flu. Why are corporations endangering our health and the environment to kill germs that we have no conclusive evidence are hurting us as badly as the conventional cleaning agents we use to zap them? Also, didn't these zoological diseases come from over use of antibiotics and antivirals? Just wondering. I'm not a scientist or doctor.

Pollution Issues UK 
Practically Green
Toxic Free Kids
Green and Clean Mom

Olivia Lane is a Blogger, Green Living Educator, and Health Coach trained at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She's also author of Baking Soda & Bliss: The Healthy & Happy Guide to Green Cleaning 

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