One of the most versatile cleaning supplies in the home, bleach disinfects anything it comes into contact with and can not only clean every surface but remove stains from fabrics, too. Despite its cleaning power, we’ve also long heard of the effects such chemicals can have on our health and wellbeing. The labels on such products make some of these clear, explaining they are corrosive and can irritate eyes, skin, and respiratory tract, often through simple inhalation. Despite these warnings signs, people continue to buy into this corporate propaganda.
As previously stated in an article of ours from 2013:
It is important to note that there is no FDA-type organization that regulates the cleaning products that are brought into your home. Instead groups such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) make warnings of the use of Chlorine Bleach publicly available. Under the assumption that consumers will continue to use Chlorine Bleach within their households, the following safety precautions are widely recommended:
- Dilute the chlorine bleach with water. The lower concentration poses a potentially lesser risk of unwanted exposure.
- Wear a safety mask and rubber gloves when working with bleach as a preventative measure.
- Only use chlorine bleach in a well ventilated area to allow for sufficient air flow and to prevent the unwanted gasses from remaining stationary in the working space.
- Never mix chlorine bleach with any other household cleaners.
It’s unlikely people exercise these precautions when dealing with this chemical, and it’s also interesting to note that even more studies have come forward since then confirming these risks.
A new study has found that people who use disinfectants just once a week have a 22-32% increased chance of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
“COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States. More than 11 million people have been diagnosed with COPD, but millions more may have the disease without even knowing it. COPD causes serious long-term disability and early death. At this time there is no cure, and the number of people dying from COPD is growing,” according to the American Lung Association.
The 30-year study was conducted by Harvard University and the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research. This new study could potentially link COPD to specific cleaning chemicals, as two other studies in European populations showed that “working as a cleaner was associated with a higher risk of COPD,” according to Orianne Dumas, a researcher at Inserm. Dumas goes on to say, “Earlier studies have found a link between asthma and exposure to cleaning products and disinfectants at home, such as bleach and sprays, so it is important to investigate this further.”
In 1989, the Harvard researchers found 55,185 working female nurses in the U.S. who did not have COPD, then analyzed those who were still working in 2009 over the next eight years. Participants were given a questionnaire to determine which disinfectants they used most frequently and why they used them. The disinfectants included glutaraldehyde (a strong disinfectant used for medical instruments), bleach, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, and quaternary ammonium compounds (known as “quats”). In addition to the questionnaire, they took into account factors such as age, weight and ethnicity.
During this period they found that 663 were diagnosed with the condition. “In our study population, 37% of nurses used disinfectants to clean surfaces on a weekly basis and 19% used disinfectants to clean medical instruments on a weekly basis,” says Dumas.
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The study aims to highlight the lack of health guidelines when it comes to cleaning and disinfectants, especially in healthcare settings, and researchers hope their results will prompt further investigation and better safety precautions.
We need more people like these researchers, who dedicate their time to ensuring our safety when it comes to items we have incorporated into our lifestyle and assume are safe, doing this kind of work. This information isn’t meant to scare anyone, especially those of us who actively use these materials, but rather to bring more awareness so that we can educate ourselves and make healthier choices. There are countless healthy and safe alternatives when it comes to what we clean with, what we wear, and what we eat. You have to play the role of researcher in your own life if you expect to make positive change, and by having an open mind, you allow yourself to accept opportunities that can further your growth, mentally, physically, and spiritually.
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