Organic Consumers Association

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Glycol Ethers in Toxic Household Cleaning Products

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Health Issues page and our Coming Clean page.

    Commercial cleaning products, even "green" ones like Simple Green, clean faster than soap and water can. But this is because they contain small amounts of the most powerful grease-cutting class of chemicals known -- glycol ethers.

 Overexposure to glycol ethers can cause anemia, intoxication, and irritation of the eyes and nose.

 In laboratory animals, low-level exposure to glycol ethers has caused birth defects and damage to sperm and testicles. The most commonly used glycol ether, 2-butoxyethanol, has been shown to cause liver cancer in animals. AlterNet reports:

     "You are exposed to the glycol ethers when you inhale them as the cleaner is used ... Most glycol ethers can silently penetrate your skin and enter your bloodstream ... If that were not enough, the glycol ethers also go through natural rubber gloves and many types of plastic gloves without changing their appearance."

 The typical American home contains 3-10 gallons of toxic materials, in the form of about 60 different kinds of hazardous household cleaning products. That's right, the very things you use to clean your house are actually the primary sources of toxins and indoor air pollution that Americans expose themselves to year after year. And many of the new "green" alternatives now being offered by major corporations are only green in name, as you will soon discover.

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