When we think of household cleaners, we think of the liquids or other types of solutions as things that make the indoor space of our homes clean and safe for living, rather than thinking of them as harmful. The truth is, however, that many cleaners used to sanitize and wash surfaces in our homes are also ultimately harming our water and air.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has named phosphorus, nitrogen, ammonia and chemicals that fall under the term “volatile organic compounds,” as the most harmful environmental hazards in household cleaners. These chemicals are common pollutants that contribute to smog, diminish the quality of our drinking water and are harmful to animals.
Ammonia, nitrogen, and phosphorus are harmful water contaminants in excess quantities. They are flushed down toilets and poured down drains when homes are cleaned. Many pollutants are removed from the water supply by waste treatment facilities before being returned to rivers, streams and other waterways, but those three chemicals are not. Instead, they enter waterways and affect plant life. These chemicals are used in fertilizers in limited quantities, but in the water supply there is no regulation as far as their levels, so there presence in the water supply can result in accelerated growth of vegetation, clogged waterways, and crowding out of other plant and animal life. Other results from this are depletion of oxygen in the water, growth of algae, and water eventually becoming unsuitable for consumption, cooking or for bathing.
VOCS can also cause hazards to our health by concentrating in the home and then entering into the outdoor atmosphere when windows are opened to ventilate a home after cleaning. According to the EPA, VOCs contribute to smog, which has led to the passing of legislation to ban or regulate the amount of VOCs in cleaning solutions.
Environmentally friendly solutions exist. The future of our air quality and water supplies depends on our efforts to make better decisions now. We offer healthy cleaning solutions for your home and/or business. Contact us for more information.