The low down of toxic substances in cleaning products
Ammonia is an irritant which can cause fibrotic and other interstitial changes in the lung tissue (2). One paper also concluded that the use of concentrated ammonia in poorly ventilated areas can lead to dangerous airborne ammonia exposures (3).
Sulphates - found in washing products like washing up liquid and hand wash.
Sulphates can cause irritation. It's made up of molecules that can attract both water and oil which breaks down grease and dirt and has the ability to rinse off. They also have a drying effect on the skin and take away natural oils from your skin and hair. This leads to irritated skin.
Quaternary ammonium compounds - disinfectants and fabric softener.
QAC's can have negative effects on our lungs. They sensitize and irritate the lung airways (4). QAC's are also an antimicrobial which means they can have a bacterial resistance, lessening their disinfecting effect. Long term use of products with quaternary ammonium compounds is also a suspected cause for contact dermatitis and respiratory problems such as asthma. This means that they could lead to the remodelling of the airways.
Triclosan - hand sanitiser, toothpaste, deodorant.
As an antimicrobial, triclosan kills off good bacteria, as well as bad. While this isn't great for your home environment, when inhaled, they can also kill the good bacteria in your body which is crucial! Triclosan is also toxic to marine life so by cutting it out of your daily routine, you'll also be saving the seas.
Phthalates are used in skin care products to soften them and help products stick to our skin. While phthalates have a short half-life in humans, they have been associated with several health problems including infertility, testicular dysgenesis, obesity, asthma and allergies. Phthalates have also been linked with leiomyomas and breast cancer (6).
SLS is the substance responsible for foaming in soap-like products. It acts like detergent to remove oil and dirt from your skin. SLS is known for being an irritant. In one experiment, SLS was applied to different parts of the face and arms of groups. In the younger group (av age 25.2), all areas of the face and neck reacted to SLS, but the forearm did not. In an older group (av age 73.7), the nose, perioral area and the forearm did not react (7). So, while children are more at risk of irritation, adults should also avoid SLS containing products.
In other words, retinol is Vitamin A. It is used in anti-aging cream because it can help smooth out skin. While the results can be beneficial for our looks in the short run, retinol can also be toxic. When retinol comes into contact with sunlight, it goes through a process called photoactivation. This has been shown to damage DNA and lead to tumours which is particularly unhealthy as our faces and necks are exposed to sunlight the most! (8)