Never before in history has mankind focused so much on health, what we take into our bodies, exercise and the air we breathe; and for good reason. Much attention has been focused on organic compounds (VOCs). While some are dangerous to human health and cause harm to the environment, it is thought that harmful VOCs are usually temporary and improve once the source of irritation is identified and removed, and therefore are not typically acutely toxic. However, it is clear that we are consistently and cumulatively bombarded with VOCs in and outside our homes, from innumerable sources of which many of us are still personally unaware. And alarmingly, VOCs may or may not be able to be smelled, so smelling is not a good indicator of their presence. This means that when your car has finally lost its new car smell, VOCs may very well still be present. According to the EPA, VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, frequent headaches, nausea, and can also damage the liver, kidney and central nervous system. VOCs are found everywhere in everything from building products, home maintenance products, skin care products and make-up, air fresheners including candles, perfumes, cleaning products; the list truly seems endless. Without a doubt, it is the compounding long-term exposure to VOCs that are of concern to human health. In this article, we will focus on commonly sold laundry detergents.
If we were to think about it, clothing washed in detergent containing VOCs would emit VOCs as it goes through the dryer and is then placed on your body next to your skin; the clothing you wear all day, and all night in your pajamas, laying your head on your clean pillow and under your sheets. Your skin is the largest organ in the body, it breathes and sweats and it's tissue has a complex structure which gradually responds to environmental stress by showing signs of erythema, inflammation, eczema, premature aging or by developing cancerous tumors. Although it is still poorly documented, compelling evidence suggests that volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have potentially harmful effects on the skin. A recently published study in Scientific Reports reveals that VOCs target the cellular mechanism that eliminates damaged proteins. Our skin is a big deal, and one of the most complicated organs in the body. “It has many roles in the maintenance of life and health, but also has many potential problems, with more than 3,000 possible skin disorders. What is essential to comprehend is that the human skin, mainly the upper layer of the epidermis is the first and major target of air pollutants precisely because of the role it plays as a barrier between the inner body systems and the outside world.
What you should know
1. Although a lack of smell doesn’t mean there are no VOCs, a laundry product with fragrance in it is harmful to you. Furthermore, fragrance and perfume companies are not obligated to reveal the ingredients in their product; nor are they required to test them.
2. “Optical Brighteners” is a term used to advise you that a chemical has been added to your laundry detergent; one that gives the illusion that your clothes are cleaner and brighter after using. In actuality, optical brighteners transform ultraviolet light waves to enhance blue light and minimize the quantity of yellow, making things appear as if they are whiter and cleaner. Yet because optical whiteners are not biodegradable, they are dangerous to our environment and pose a serious threat to aquatic life.
3. Completed studies on some of your favorite detergents have disclosed more than 25 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) per load; many of these are classified as hazardous air pollutants circulating through your dryer vents, out into the air, in your home and then placed next to your skin.
4. When bleach is mixed with wastewater, it can form toxic organic compounds that have been linked with respiratory issues, lung disease, cancer and kidney damage.
An alternative to commercially produced laundry detergents – DIY Recipe
14 ounces borax
14 ounces washing soda
Mix the ingredients together stirring for up to 5 minutes or use a blender if preferred; to avoid another mess to clean up make sure you let it settle before taking the lid off. For a small load, you can Use 1 tablespoon for a small load and 3 tablespoons for a large load.
If you want to leave your laundry for us, no problem. Be sure to book that in with your weekly cleanings.