You wouldn’t think it but in fact, the bathroom is one of the most dangerous rooms in the home – we keep most of our cleaning chemicals, plus products containing all sorts of nasty stuff. And don’t get us started on the mould!
Everyone knows bleach and ammonia are potent and potentially lethal, but there are many more chemicals you should be wary of. Here’s 11:
Found in: antibacterial soaps, and some shampoos, deodorants, toothpastes, mouthwashes, and cleaning products.
You may have seen the advertising in recent years that says antibacterial soaps will get rid of 99.9 per cent of germs, but in fact regular old soap does the same. The difference?
Pump soap contains an active ingredient called triclosan. It has been linked to liver toxicity, thyroid dysfunction and higher incidence rates of food allergies and hay fever in children. Other studies have linked triclosan to allergic contact dermatitis.
2. Cocamide DEA
Found in: Lathering shampoos
The Center for Environmental Health found a chemical linked to cancer in dozens of shampoos, many of them the more expensive brands. The ingredient, cocamide diethanolamine (or cocamide DEA), is a chemically modified form of coconut oil used as a foaming and thickening agent.
When buying shampoos it’s best to check the ingredients and make sure that shampoos you buy do not say “cocamide,” “cocamide DEA,” or “cocamide diethanolamine” on the side of the bottle.
3. Sodium hydrate
Found in: Drain cleaner
When your drains become clogged, it can be tempting to use a chemical drain cleaner, however the active ingredient in drain openers is lye, also known as caustic soda, sodium hydrate, or sodium hydroxide. And even though lye has been used by people to cure food and make soap for eons, it is not good to have around the home.
Found in: Air fresheners and toilet paper
Everyone wants their house to smell nice but you don’t have to use chemicals to do it. Phthalates are found in bathroom fragrances however you may not find it on a label – it could be disguised as an ambiguous ‘fragrance’.
Phthalates are known endocrine disruptors i.e. chemicals that can cause cancerous tumours, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. Unlike the digestive system, the skin has no safeguards against toxins, so the absorbed chemicals go straight to organs.
Found in: Window, kitchen and multipurpose cleaners.
2-butoxyethanol is the key ingredient in many window cleaners and gives them their sweet smell. It belongs in the category of “glycol ethers,” a set of powerful solvents that can cause sore throats when inhaled and in extreme cases can also contribute to narcosis, pulmonary edema, and severe liver and kidney damage. An unventilated bathroom can mean you’re exposed to the dangerous chemicals much more than is safe.
Found in: Scouring powders, toilet bowl cleaners, household tap water.
Chlorine isn’t just found in the pool – we can be exposed to it in a variety of places in the home. You are most commonly exposed through fumes and your skin when you clean with it, and also when you take a shower or bath. Chlorine is a respiratory irritant and may be a serious thyroid disrupter.
7. Isopropyl alcohol
Found in: hair colour rinses, body rubs, hand lotion, and aftershave lotions
Scientists believe that isopropyl alcohol has the ability to destroy intestinal flora, leaving the body’s major organs open to infection. At its most basic, isopropyl alcohol can cause headaches, dizziness, mental depression, nausea and vomiting if used in high concentrations.
8. Propylene glycol
Found in: makeup, toothpaste, and deodorant.
Stick deodorants have a high concentration of PG and direct contact can cause brain, liver, and kidney abnormalities. When manufacturing staff work with it, they need to to wear protective gloves, clothing, and goggles. It makes you think twice before using it!