Bleach has been used for many years to disinfect and remove stains in our households and to whiten clothing. However, due to its high misuse, it is now a health and environmental hazard.
The Original Purpose of Bleach
Household bleach, also known as chlorine bleach, was first introduced in 1789 and has been a staple cleaning product in households ever since. Bleach’s original purpose was to help clean and whiten fabric, dating back to Egyptian times. When the chemical element chlorine was discovered, it made the whitening process quicker as it easily broke down the stains allowing them to be easily removed with a simple wash.
Unfortunately, bleach has become widely and easily accessible. Most commonly found in laundry detergents, disinfectants, toilet cleaners and available on its own, bleach is used in almost every household. Due to bleach being very cheap to manufacture, it is highly popular with consumers as it is affordable and disinfects surfaces speedily. However, this quick fix is not enough reason for us to endanger our health and earth.
The Misuse of Bleach
Not only is bleach a harmful substance on its own, if used with some other cleaning chemicals, bleach can also cause a reaction that releases toxic vapours. This would not only cause you to be sick, but regular inhalation of these fumes can also cause damage to your respiratory health. For example, when bleach is mixed with products containing ammonia, it can cause damage to nasal ways and lungs.
When used on certain surfaces, apart from the risk of discolouration, bleach is known to remain on surfaces and continue to emit its fumes. A recent study found that constant exposure to these fumes caused respiratory problems, especially in children. Also, direct contact by sitting or touching these already cleaned surfaces transfers the bleach unto clothing or the skin.
Recently, health and safety inspectors have advised against using bleach in catering environments because of the risk of contamination.
Bleach can also cause damage to your skin. One easy spill when using the product can cause irritation and may even cause burns on the skin.
For these many reasons, people should be looking into stopping their use of bleach to avert these risks. Some consumers have started to prefer using natural cleaning products as a healthier alternative, and they still act as a great disinfectant, yet come with few risks to human health.
Bleach should be limited to industrial or construction use where users are trained under COSHH and understand the risks and right use.
Bleach: A liquid Environmental Hazard!!!
Chlorine-based bleach is used in industrial processes and the chemical is released into the environment in large amounts, through chlorine gas and chlorine dumped in waterways. In households, the most common way that bleach enters waterways is through the toilet and sink cleaners that contain bleach. This is due to the purifying system being unable to fully extract the bleach, leaving it to be sent out to the oceans.
When dumped in water, the chlorine chemical in the bleach reacts with other chemicals and causes the formation of Dioxins which are harmful to health. The Dioxins take years to wash away and breakdown, yet with bleach being continuously pumped into waterways, the water does not have time to purify itself. And not only does the Dioxins cause harm to human health, but it also puts wildlife at risk. Sadly, these toxins caused by bleach have been found to contribute to the lowering of bird and fish populations.
Landfills are also home to bleach remnants from a vast majority of plastic containers that once held bleach being disposed of there. These containers can take at least 450 years to decompose. Thus leaving bleach residue to remain on these containers for years also, allowing the bleach to continue to release toxins into the atmosphere and adding to air pollution.
However, it is not only bleached based cleaning supplies that contribute to environmental hazards.
- Hydrogen peroxide has been named to be a safer alternative to chlorinated bleach for removing stains and cleaning toilets. Although it is easier for this chemical to biodegrade, it can be toxic to sea life. Therefore, when used as a toilet cleaner, the residue flushed into the ocean, poses a high risk to sea life.
- Products containing phosphates, such as detergents, create a fertilising effect for algae. Therefore, when phosphates enter the water, it takes up the oxygen in oceans which is harmful to sea life.
- In some spray cleaners, hydrocarbons and compressed gases are added into the solutions. These gases contribute to global warming and pollute the air.
- Disposable cleaning wipes are also another harmful to the environment as they get flushed or thrown in the bin and take a long time to decompose, up to decades if they contain plastic.
Making eco-friendly choices
In a time where it is extremely important to preserve not just the earth but to also take healthier precautions; we need to be aware of what toxins we are releasing when cleaning. Therefore, by taking the eco-friendly route when choosing our cleaning products, you can rest assured that you are lowering your contribution to both air and sea pollution; and keeping the air in your home natural, fresh and toxic-free. Here at The Cleaning Cabinet, we make sure we only stock products that are environmentally friendly and natural, in order to help our customers make sustainable choices.
It is very important when buying cleaning products that you are making choices that will not damage your health. Making switches to products that are hypoallergenic, such as our Bio-D range, can lower your own and your family members allergies and reduce the number of illnesses in your home.
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