5 Common Household Products Containing Hazardous Chemicals

February 26, 2015


Common household air fresheners currently are not required to disclose their ingredients on packaging, even after numerous studies have found dangerous levels of chemicals present in popular brands lining store shelves. Many air fresheners on the market contain chemicals known as phthalates. These are hormone-disrupting chemicals that can be particularly dangerous for young children and unborn babies and also may cause breast cancer. Most air fresheners also contain dichlorobenzene, which is another unsafe chemical that has been linked to lung damage and is a known carcinogen. Formaldehyde, a well documented carcinogen linked to respiratory cancers, is another popular ingredient.


These products may contain the chemical triclosan, which is an ingredient used as a bactericide in personal care products such as toothpaste, deodorant, and antibacterial soap. This chemical has been linked to heart disease, heart failure, disruption of hormone function, and liver damage. Recent studies regarding the effects of tricolsan have prompted numerous health and environmental concerns necessitating further research into its dangers.


Most popular dishwashing detergents contain chlorine in a form that is highly concentrated and can be harmful if inhaled or touched. Chlorine bleach is highly caustic and may cause skin irritation and redness. Fumes can irritate the eyes, nose and airways. If combined with other cleaners that contain ammonia, it can cause toxic gases to form. When chlorine reacts with other organic compounds it can create toxins such as dioxin. Research indicates dioxins are able to cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones, and cause cancer.


Most formulas on the market rely upon highly toxic substances. Perchlorethylene is a known carcinogen that may cause liver, kidney and nervous system damage. Ammonium hydroxide is highly corrosive, and may cause skin, eye and respiratory irritation. Carpet cleaners may also contain the carcinogen formaldehyde.


Laundry detergents can contain a number of dangerous toxins used as cleaning agents, brighteners, stabilizers, and fragrances in your formula. Sodium hypochlorite, used in detergents containing bleach, is highly corrosive and can irritate or burn the skin, eyes, or respiratory tract. Linear alkylate sulfonates are labeled on detergents as anionic surfactants and may be absorbed through the skin and cause liver damage and cancer. Petroleum distillates are chemical cleaning agents that have been linked to cancer and lung damage.

Periodically check the air quality of your home by performing a home air test to identify hazardous chemicals that may be present such as formaldehyde and perchlorethylene. You can also protect your home air quality by seeking out natural and environmentally friendly household cleaners and limiting the use of products containing hazardous chemicals.