Cleaning Kills

Cleaning Chemicals Kill

I pretty much never clean.  The reason I go to great lengths to avoid cleaning is not exclusively because it’s a chore I hate performing.  Allow me to explain…

More than a few times I’ve been challenged by the uber health conscious to find something in their lives that is potentially unhealthy.  For the record, I wish to make it abundantly clear that I do tons of things every day that I know are unhealthy and carry some risk. Many of these risks are an unavoidable part of living a modern, tech centered life.  These are risks I simply agree to take while simultaneously recognizing them and often making efforts to mitigate them. During the past year and a half, since embarking upon this journey to reverse my biological age, I have learned so much and continue to increase my knowledge about many of these ubiquitous risks.  I hope you, my readers, are learning just as much.


Whenever someone issues such a health risk challenge, one of my first guesses is to check under their bathroom and kitchen sinks.  What’s under your’s? Seriously. Get up and go take a look at the cleaning products you have in your kitchen or bathroom cabinet. Read the labels.  Start googling the ingredients. If you’re like most people, you have a pile of household cleaners, most of them containing all kinds of toxic, deadly chemicals.  Some of these products may even have a skull and crossbones pictogram right on the label. Manufacturers are certainly not hiding the toxic nature of their products from us.  They are telling us right on the labels none of us ever read. Maybe we should begin to listen to the companies selling these products, take the threats seriously, and simply stop using them in favor of more natural, safer alternatives.


Common Toxic Chemicals in Cleaning Products

Are you disturbed by what you found lurking under your sink?  You should be. Here are some common cleaning chemicals: bleach, ammonia, phthalates, triclosan, butylphenyl methylpropional, benzisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, benzyl salicylate.  These polysyllabic names alone should frighten you. The proven, not merely theoretical, effects of these chemicals should make each and every one of us eternally banish them from our homes.  I can hear some of you thinking, “There you go again John, being all conspiracy theorist and purveyor of fear porn.” No, not really. Do your own research. Look at what the studies say.


Cleaning Products Proven Harmful

One of the main reasons I decided to write about cleaning products is that within the last few months a 20-year longitudinal study examining the long term effects of using cleaning products was concluded by scientists at the University of Bergen in Norway.  There has been increasing awareness of the connection between cleaning products use and respiratory issues, but this was the first study to look at the impact of using cleaning products over a very long period of time. It was no small study. In fact, it looked at the lung function of 6,230 people in 22 locations around the world over the course of 20 years.[1]   The study determined that the effects of 10-20 years of cleaning product exposure can be as damaging as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for the same amount of time.  Amazing! Why would anyone willingly expose themself to such a product?


If you’re a cleaning worker handling these chemicals on a daily basis; get another job.  Your life and lung function are far more valuable than anything you could be earning.  It’s a fact: these chemicals are extremely hazardous to your health.  Avoid them at all costs.  I have even developed an aversion to smelling people or things because I now know I’m likely inhaling a nice dose of some toxic chemical.


Safe Alternatives

I’m going to make it really easy for you.  Avoid the following: bleach, ammonia, drain cleaner, carpet cleaner, heavy duty degreasers, and artificial air fresheners and anything with a scent that is not natural.  Check out EWG.org.  Do your own research.  There are literally hundreds of safe, healthy alternatives.  They may not be carried by your supermarket, but you can certainly order them and have them delivered right to your doorstep.  And guess what? The safe alternatives may work just as well and are often not anymore expensive. In some cases, they are actually cheaper!  Why wouldn’t you eliminate this risk?

Conclusion

We all have heard of people who lived perfectly healthy lives, free from smoking, drinking, and drugging, only to get struck dead by lung cancer.  People often like to remind me of this type of scenario in an effort to deride my efforts to reverse my biological age. “What’s the point, John? You could just get cancer.  Or hit by a bus. You’re wasting your time! All this effort and denying yourself life’s little pleasures? It’s pointless!” These individuals fail to recognize that I am quite happy engaged in this pursuit.  Furthermore, this point of view removes the responsibility of many of life’s occurrences from the individual. The viewpoint suggests that our health span is beyond our control. “Diabetes is something you just get as you age.  As is heart disease. As is cancer. As is obesity. You may as well just do whatever you want because these things are going to happen anyway.” Yet, proponents of this ideology fail to observe the obvious. Most of these diseases are caused by environmental factors, NOT genetics.  Diabetes, obesity, and most heart disease are unquestionably environmental.  Moreover, according to a study published in 2008, “Only 5–10% of all cancer cases can be attributed to genetic defects, whereas the remaining 90–95% have their roots in the environment and lifestyle.  The lifestyle factors include cigarette smoking, diet (fried foods, red meat), alcohol, sun exposure, environmental pollutants, infections, stress, obesity, and physical inactivity.  The evidence indicates that of all cancer-related deaths, almost 25–30% are due to tobacco, as many as 30–35% are linked to diet, about 15–20% are due to infections, and the remaining percentage are due to other factors like radiation, stress, physical activity, environmental pollutants etc [2].”  As you can see, we actually have an extraordinary amount of control with respect to the way our health span unfolds.

Is there any data linking exposure to cleaning chemicals to telomere shortening?  No, there isn’t. But there is data linking exposure to pollution to telomere shortening.  So why take an unnecessary risk? Everything has a cost and a benefit. All we can do is try to make the best possible decisions while simultaneously enjoying life.  Maybe I am wasting my time attempting to reverse my biological age. Time will tell. Nevertheless, that argument doesn’t hold up as it relates to proven dangerous cleaning products.  I am suggesting replacing something harmful with a safe, potentially cheaper, alternative. Doing this takes literally zero time and costs nothing. Why would anyone pollute their home and body when they don’t have to?

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