Household chemicals are used every day by millions of people to keep things clean, fresh, and pest-free. Unfortunately, we don’t realize what harm we are doing to the environment in the process. If we take a look at the ingredients of these chemicals and how they are detrimental to the environment, it may be enough to make us change our ways and create eco-friendly homes for our own benefit and the benefit of the ecosystems.
Included under the category of household chemicals are cleaning products (some of which contain bleach, chlorine, and ammonia), pesticides, fertilizers, paints, automobile fluids, candles, fragrant sprays, and many other domestic items that can be dangerous for the environment. Household cleaners, detergents, batteries, and garden pesticides have effects on the environment when they contaminate soil or water. Even continuous exposure to small amounts of the many harmful substances in homes can pose long term health risks to humans and animals.
Many laundry detergents contain phosphates, which can greatly pollute oceans. Phosphates in smaller bodies of water can encourage excessive growth of algae, which depletes the supply of oxygen in the water and creates harmful living conditions for animals. Households with septic tanks are discharged directly into the environment and can possibly reach water bodies without being treated.
Household chemicals are made of ingredients that can be harmful or life threatening upon skin contact or ingestion. Bleach and ammonia in various cleaning products can pose respiratory health problems with excessive exposure. Some toxic household substances can cause birth defects, brain damage, coma, or death. Common household chemicals are also linked to many common health problems such as headaches, joint pain, loss of sleep, asthma, allergies, and depression. Housewives are at greater risk of getting cancer from their greater exposure to the harmful chemicals they use in their homes every day.
Not only are there risks, but there are also proven negative effects of these household chemicals on both the environment and our health. The overuse of antimicrobial cleaning products is proven to result in the growth of antibiotic-resistant germs, which can only be eliminated with more harmful chemicals. Pesticides damage the environment with harsh chemicals that are intended to only harm certain pests. The propellants in sprays contain chlorofluorocarbons, which have been recognized as damaging to the earth’s ozone. We sacrifice a small part of the rich environment each time we use pesticides at home. The negative effects continue as we look at all that we damage in the environment that also affects our own lives.
Cleaning agents, detergents, pesticides, and weed killers frequently find their way into the soil and then into water bodies. These chemicals as well as runoff can be either harmful or deadly to the animals and plants of the seas. Chemical residues of household chemicals can seep into soils and contaminate groundwater supplies after being disposed of improperly. Everyday household drugs, cosmetics, and chemicals are harmful to the reproductive and immune systems of fish and turtles that become exposed to the harmful ingredients. Weed killers and non-biodegradable chemicals in soaps and shampoos are also harmful to aquatic life when they reach waters. Contaminated waters affect diversity and growth of sea life and continue to jeopardize water bodies for the use of drinking or recreation. Waste water is also emptied into water bodies frequently, which results in human exposure to these harmful chemicals.
What We Can Do About It
Now that you know all about the effects we have on the environment while in our homes, see what difference you can make. Purchase all-natural cleaners that are without the harmful chemicals, or buy all-in-one cleaning products to cover the majority of your cleaning needs. Use baking soda, alcohol, or vinegar as an alternative to the harmful chemicals. Dispose of your chemical-based cleaners and other hazardous home items properly to prevent affecting the ecosystems and your own health. Take the time to help the environment in which you live and those far away that are affected by your actions. Before you make a purchase, make sure you are doing the right thing for your health and the environment.