COVID-19 has all of us cleaning more—but the products designed to kill viruses and bacteria can have dangerous health impacts. Here's how to scrub safely.
The coronavirus has changed just about every routine in our lives, cleaning and disinfecting now among them.
Disinfecting versus cleaning<p> One of the most important ways to reduce exposure to some of the strongest, more toxic chemicals is to first decide how aggressively you need to clean vs. disinfect. For example, cleaning refers to the removal of dirt and germs from surfaces, but does not necessarily kill germs. However, removing germs lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection (the amount of virus you are exposed to matters). </p><iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" allow="autoplay" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/894251782&color=%23ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true"></iframe><div style="font-size: 10px; color: #cccccc;line-break: anywhere;word-break: normal;overflow: hidden;white-space: nowrap;text-overflow: ellipsis; font-family: Interstate,Lucida Grande,Lucida Sans Unicode,Lucida Sans,Garuda,Verdana,Tahoma,sans-serif;font-weight: 100;"><a href="https://soundcloud.com/environmental-health-news" title="Environmental Health News" target="_blank" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;">Environmental Health News</a> · <a href="https://soundcloud.com/environmental-health-news/aly-cohen-interviews-fred-vom-saal" title="Aly Cohen interviews Fred vom Saal" target="_blank" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;">Aly Cohen interviews Fred vom Saal</a></div><p> Removal of germs, the vast majority of which cause no harm to human health, can be done with products that are a lot less harmful to the human body than stronger chemicals used to remove infectious bacteria and viruses. For simple cleaning, we can use safe, effective cleaners such as bar and liquid soap made without fragrance, coloring and preservative, and also do not contain antibacterial chemicals that are not necessary for basic cleaning.<br> </p><p> Disinfecting, on the other hand, refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces, but this involves using products with much stronger, and potentially lethal, chemicals. Disinfectants are chemicals that can have serious effects on human health that may become apparent after short-term as well as long-term use. Bleach is one example, where this strong disinfecting chemical can cause short-term health issues like cough (bronchospasm), shortness of breath, and can even trigger an asthma attack. Long-term use may increase risk of thyroid gland dysfunction and other endocrine disorders if protection for skin contact, inhalation, and ventilation of the use area are not managed properly. </p><p> We provide many "do-it-yourself" recipes for making safe cleaning solutions, and also discuss disinfectants in our newly released consumer guidebook, <a href="https://thesmarthuman.com/dr-aly-cohens-new-book-to-be-published-in-2020/" target="_blank"><em>Non-Toxic: Guide to Living Healthy in a Chemical World</em></a>. The reality is that in the U.S., manufacturers of cleaning products and disinfectants are not required to list the full ingredient panel of their products, with the exception of products with older known hazardous ingredients. Cleaning products producers are also not responsible for supplying information about any testing or toxicity findings for the products they create, because in the U.S., they are protected as a trade secret. In the event of an accidental poisoning, even poison control centers are unable to access information about the ingredient details of the product ingested. While industries argue that protecting their profits from products by keeping ingredients secret is essential, not informing consumers about chemicals in these products that have been shown to cause harm is unacceptable. </p>
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