Just read the ingredients. If they aren't listed, sometimes you can
find the msds online. Below are some ingredients to be on the lookout
for, along with their side effects. <b><i>For non-toxic healthy
cleaning, you can always trust Norwex Enviro Products.</i></b> <b>
Common Hazardous Ingredients in Cleaning Products
Acetone - A neurotoxin, acetone may cause liver and kidney damage, and
damage to the developing fetus. It is a skin and eye irritant. Found
in spot treatment cleaners, mark and scuff removers, and other
Aerosol products- Aerosol propellants may contain propane,
formaldehyde, a carcinogen, neurotoxin and central nervous system
depressant, methylene chloride, a carcinogen, neurotoxin and
reproductive toxin, and nitrous oxide . Products applied with aeresol
sprays are broken into minute particles, which can be more deeply
inhaled than larger particles, which may increase their toxic effect.
Ammonia - Undiluted, ammonia is a severe eye and respiratory irritant
that can cause severe burning pain, and corrosive damage including
chemical burns, cataracts and corneal damage. It can also cause
kidney and liver damage. Repeated or prolonged exposure to vapours can
result in bronchitis and pneumonia. Found in a wide range of cleaning
products. Ammonia will react with bleach to form poisonous chlorine
gas that can cause burning and watering of eyes, as well as burning of
the nose and mouth.
Diethanolamine (DEA) - Listed as a suspected carcinogen by the State
of California, this chemical is a skin and respiratory toxicant and a
severe eye irritant. Used in a wide range of household cleaning
D-limonene - This chemical is produced by cold-pressing orange peels.
The extracted oil is 90% d-limonene. It is a sensitizer, a neurotoxin,
a moderate eye and skin irritant, and can trigger respiratory distress
when vapours are inhaled by some sensitive individuals. There is
some evidence of carcinogenicity. D-limonene is the active ingredient
in some insecticides. It is used as a solvent in many all-purpose
cleaning products, especially 'citrus' and 'orange' cleaners. Also
listed on labels as citrus oil and orange oil.
Ethoxylated nonyl phenol - Nonyl phenols are hormone disruptors and
some contain traces of ethylene oxide, a known human carcinogen. They
are eye and skin irritants. Used in laundry detergents and other
Formaldehyde - In lab tests, formaldehyde has caused cancer and
damaged DNA. Formaldehyde is also a sensitizer, with the potential to
cause asthma. Several laboratory studies have shown it to be a central
nervous system depressant. Exposure to formaldehyde may cause joint
pain, depression, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, chronic
fatigue, dizziness and loss of sleep. While formaldehyde naturally
occurs in the human body in minute amounts, it is estimated that 20
per cent of people exposed to it will experience an allergic reaction.
Used in a wide range of products, including some furniture polishes.
Formaldehyde may be released by other chemicals, eg.quaternary 15.
Fragrance - Fragrance on a label can indicate the presence of up to
4,000 separate ingredients, most of which are synthetic. Many
compounds in fragrance are human toxins and suspected or proven
carcinogens. In 1989, the US National Institute of Occupational Safety
and Health evaluated 2,983 fragrance chemicals for health effects.
They identified 884 of them as toxic substances. Synthetic fragrances
are known to trigger asthma attacks. The US Environmental Protection
Agency found that 100% of perfumes contain toluene, which can cause
liver, kidney and brain damage as well as damage to a developing
fetus. Symptoms reported to the FDA from fragrance exposure have
included headaches, dizziness, rashes, skin discoloration, violent
coughing and vomiting, and allergic skin irritation. Clinical
observations by medical doctors have shown that exposure to
fragrances can affect the central nervous system, causing depression,
hyperactivity, irritability, inability to cope, and other behavioral
changes. Fragrance is a common skin irritant.
Methylene chloride - Methylene chloride is a carcinogen, a neurotoxin
and a reproductive toxin. On inhalation, it can cause liver and brain
damage, irregular heartbeat, and even heart attack. It is a severe
skin and moderate eye irritant. Used in stain removers.
Monoethanolamine - This chemical may cause liver, kidney and
reproductive damage, as well as depression of the central nervous
system. Inhalation of high concentrations - when cleaning an oven for
example - can cause dizziness or even coma. The chemical can also be
absorbed through the skin. It is a moderate skin irritant, and a
severe eye irritant. Found in many cleaning products, including oven
cleaners, tub and tile cleaners, laundry pre-soaks, floor strippers
and carpet cleaners.
Morpholine - This corrosive ingredient can severely irritate and burn
skin and eyes, and can even cause blindness if splashed in eyes. It
can cause liver and kidney damage, and long-term exposure can result
in bronchitis. It reacts with nitrites (added as a preservative in
some products, or present as a contaminant) to form carcinogenic
Morpholine is a moderate to severe eye, skin and mucous membrane
irritant. Used as a solvent in a number of cleaning products,
including some furniture polishes and abrasive cleansers.
Naphthalene - This registered pesticide is listed as a suspected
carcinogen in California and is most commonly found in mothballs, and
some other pest repellants, as well as in deodorizers. As a
reproductive toxin, it is transported across the placenta and can
cause blood damage. It can cause liver and kidney damage, and corneal
damage and cataracts. Skin exposure is especially dangerous to
Parabens - Parabens are hormone disruptors. Widely used in cleaning
products as preservatives, paraben is usually preceded by the prefixes
methyl-, ethyl-, butyl-, or propyl. Parabens may cause contact
dermatitis in some individuals
Paradichlorobenzene - This highly volatile registered pesticide is in
the same chemical class as DDT. It is a suspected carcinogen, and may
cause lung, liver and kidney damage. It is used in mothballs and some
washroom deodorizers and urinal blocks.
Phosphoric acid - Extremely corrosive, it can severely irritate and
burn the skin and eyes. Breathing vapours can make the lungs ache,
and it may be toxic to the central nervous system. Found in some
liquid dishwasher detergents, metal polishes, some disinfectants, and
bathroom cleaners, especially those that remove lime and mildew.
Sodium dichloroisocyanurate dihydrate - This corrosive chemical is a
severe eye, skin and respiratory irritant. It may cause liver and
gastrointestinal damage, and may be toxic to the central nervous
system. It will react with bleach to form poisonous chlorine gas that
can cause burning and watering of eyes, as well as burning of the nose
and mouth. It is found in some toilet bowl cleaners and deodorizers,
as well as industrial detergents and some institutional dishwashing
Sodium hypochlorite (bleach) - A corrosive chemical, sodium
hypochlorite is an eye, skin and respiratory irritant, as well as a
sensitizer. It is especially hazardous to people with heart
conditions or asthma, and can be fatal if swallowed. It may be a
neurotoxin and toxic to the liver. Found in a wide range of household
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate - Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is used as a
lathering agent. This chemical is a known skin irritant. It also
enhances the allergic response to other toxins and allergens. The U.S.
government has warned manufacturers of unacceptable levels of dioxin
formation in some products containing this ingredient. SLS can react
with other ingredients to form cancer-causing nitrosamines
Toluene - Exposure to toluene may cause liver, kidney and brain
damage. It is also a reproductive toxin which can damage a developing
Turpentine - This chemical can cause allergic sensitization, and
kidney, bladder and central nervous system damage. It is an eye
irritant. Found in specialty solvent cleaners, furniture polish and
Xylene - Xylene has significant neurotoxic effects, including loss of
memory. High exposure can lead to loss of consciousness and even
death. It may damage liver, kidneys and the developing fetus. It is a
severe eye and moderate skin irritant. Used in some spot removers,
floor polishes, ironing aids and other products.
The Safe Shoppers Bible, David Steinman & Samuel Epstein
Cleaners and Toxins, Labour Environmental Alliance Society, Vancouver
Home Safe Home, Debra Lynn Dadd, Tarcher Inc, 1997 includes hundreds
of "make your own" recipes.
Non-toxic, Natural and Earth Wise, Debra Lynn Dadd, Tarcher Inc, 1990,
includes many "make your own" recipes.
Less Toxic Alternatives, Carolyn Gorman with Marie Hyde, Optimum
Publishing, 2002 , emphasis on the needs of the chemically sensitive