Laundry products in bedding and clothes can be significant sources of fragrance exposure. The residue in your clothes will absorb into your skin and emit into the air around you.Most laundry detergents contain fragrances which can cause significant physical reactions in sensitive individuals. It is very difficult to remove detergent residues. It is almost impossible to remove sunscreen and fabric softeners. Both are designed to be water insoluble and stay on. Cotton fabrics release more quickly than synthetics.
I have done well with Seventh Generation Free and Clear laundry soap.
Bleach produces very harmful fumes, especially for asthmatics.
Fabric softeners and dryer sheets can contain chemicals known to damage the lungs, brain, nerves, and cause cancer. A 2011 study at the University of Washington by Steinmann tested the emissions from fragranced laundry detergent and dryer sheets. Of the 25 VOC’s detected, 7 are officially known hazardous pollutants, including acetaldehyde, benzene, and toluene.
Anderson Laboratories’ chemical analysis of the airborne emissions of five different kinds of commonly available fabric softeners was reported in the May, 2000 issue of The Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. Their study revealed that the fabric softeners emitted toluene, styrene, phenol, thymol, xylene, and trimethylbenzene, among other chemicals, many of which cause acute respiratory tract irritation and inflammation. Some symptoms caused by fabric softener fumes are tiredness , difficulty breathing, nervousness, difficulty concentrating and remembering, dizziness, headaches, sick stomach, feeling faint, rashes, and difficulty controlling body movements.
These substances are formulated to stay in fibers and release slowly over time. The heated fumes from dryer vents often spread in the air and can cause serious reactions in asthmatics and those with chemical intolerance.
These products are especially harmful for infants and children who constantly sleep in bedding and wear clothes coated with these chemicals. By wanting to make our children and families cozy, we may actually be causing harm.
Most dry cleaners use the toxic chemical perchloroethylene (perc) as the primary cleaning solvent. This chemical continues to offgas in your home, especially in an enclosed closet. It absorbs into the skin. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences states that: “Shortterm exposure to PERC can cause adverse health effects on the nervous system that include dizziness, fatigue, headaches, naseau, sweating, incoordination, and unconsciousness. Longterm exposure can cause liver and kidney damage.” The International Association for Research on Cancer classifies perc as a probable carcinogen.
Recent studies indicate that people breathe low levels of this chemical both in homes where drycleaned goods are stored and as they wear drycleaned clothing.
Air fresheners using masking fragrances have become increasingly common. Some air fresheners contain chemicals which anaesthetize your sense of smell. Paradichlorobenzene is a chemical used in solid bathroom deodorizers, mothballs, air fresheners and is registered with the EPA as a pesticide. Symptoms of exposure include abdominal pain, nausea and/or vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, headache, liver problems and weakness. Air fresheners can contain formaldehyde, artificial fragrance, benzyl alcohol, camphor, ethanol, and naphthalene. Some chemicals in various air fresheners are known carcinogens and attack the central nervous system.
Anderson Laboratories had groups of laboratory mice breath the fumes released by several types of air fresheners. Their data demonstrated irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and sinuses; difficulty breathing; asthmatic reactions, and changes in nervous system function(loss of balance, tremors, and convulsions). Several of the mice died as a result of breathing these chemicals.
There are household products that bird owners cannot use or their birds may die. The consensus among Avian Vets is that birds are not overly sensitive, but that due to their smaller size and faster metabolisms/breathing they are affected sooner. The household hazards from air fresheners, the zinc chloride in Febreze, scented candles, bug spray, hair spray, window cleaner, Pledge, carpet freshener, Teflon coatings, plastic cooking bags and others should warn us since these are toxic substances to the canaries in the coal mines.
Ingredients are not required to be listed in most cleaning products. There are many safe and effective alternatives that are cost effective. You can have a big impact on the air quality of your home with simple changes.