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Updated by Jo Finchen-Parsons on 26th September 2019
To maintain an attractive and healthy home or workplace it is necessary to use cleaning products. Apart from the obvious visual benefits of cleaning, the removal of allergens, infectious agents and dust is vital to presering a healthy indoor environment.
Unfortunately, using some cleaning products can lead to a number of health issues and damage the environment. Cleaning products may contain certain harsh chemicals which are associated with irritation of the skin, eyes or respiratory system. These chemicals may also be associated with other health issues.
In addition, some commercial cleaning products come in concentrated forms which are classified as hazardous. These concentrated cleaning products require special consideration when it comes to storage, disposal and safe handling.
Health and Environmental Concerns Regarding Cleaning Products
At typical exposure levels, the actual risks from toxic cleaning chemicals are often uncertain. However, reducing or eliminating the inherent hazard of a product, regardless of the anticipated risk levels, is a desirable step towards the prevention of pollution.
During normal use, through the evaporation of volatile components or rinsing the residual product from cleaned surfaces down the drain, these toxins are released into the environment.
There are ingredients in some cleaning products that are toxic to aquatic life. These toxins can be introduced to water receiving inadequately treated waste. Cleaning products that contain phosphorus or nitrogen can lead to nutrient-loading in water bodies which causes a decline in water quality.
What Is Green Cleaning?
Green cleaning means cleaning in a sustainable way so that future generations can enjoy the same level of cleanliness because the planet’s resources haven’t been depleted beyond repair. There are relatively simple ways to adapt cleaning routines to make them ‘greener’ including buying cleaning products which are less hazardous to the environment, using the correct dose, buying larger packets made of materials that can be recycled, choosing refills where possible, disposing of cleaning products correctly and using less water.
What Are Green Cleaning Products?
Green cleaning products contain few, if any, hazardous toxins and the ingredients are often biodegradable. Ingredients which can replace harsh chemicals in cleaning products include food-grade substances such as lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda, and plant extracts or oils.
What Are the Benefits of Buying Green Cleaning Products?
Choosing to purchase less hazardous products, such as biodegradable and low toxicity options, which have a neutral effect on the environment, minimizes the risk of water pollution, improves indoor air quality and reduces harmful impacts on occupants.
Choosing to purchase less hazardous cleaning solutions may also reduce costs when it comes to the proper disposal of leftover products.
References and Further Reading