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The Chemical Side of Clean

The Chemical Side of Clean

Whether we like it or not, most of us are exposed to cleaning products and their residues at low levels on a daily basis. When these chemicals are used, their fumes linger in the air and we breathe them in. Chemicals in cleaning products can also enter our bodies by absorption through the skin or through ingestion of household dust and chemical residues left on dishes and other “cleaned” surfaces. When used cleaning products are flushed down the drain, they can seriously impact aquatic ecosystems.

Disinfectant by-products, or DBPs, form as a reaction between oxidizing agents and naturally present organic matter during the water disinfection process. Many hundreds of DBPs exist in treated drinking water and at least 600 have been identified, but it is increasingly recognized that the genotoxicities of the DBPs not subject to regulatory monitoring are comparatively much higher than those that are commonly monitored in the developed world. [1]

Since WWII, more than 80,000 synthetic chemicals have been invented, and many of these chemicals have been dispersed widely into the environment. Some will persist in the environment for decades and even centuries. Most of these chemicals did not previously exist in nature.[2] Not many of these substances have been tested for safety, yet are present in our food, water, and cleaning products.

According to the National Research Council, “no toxic information is available for more than 80% of the chemicals in everyday-use products. Less than 20% have been tested for acute effects and less than 10% have been tested for chronic, reproductive, or mutagenic effects.”[3] The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) depends on industry-sponsored tests for approval. In 1981, one company was found guilty of falsifying over 90 per cent of more than 2000 studies. Those products are still readily available.[4]

So, what can you do to protect your loved ones from chemical exposure? Educate yourself. Research, identify, and use safer, natural alternatives for cleaning as much as possible. Store all cleaning agents in their original containers out of reach from children. Follow the directions and use only the amount recommended. Read labels, follow safety precautions, and contact the manufacturer when you have questions.

Additionally, you can use technology in your home that is capable of cleaning the air and surfaces of your home without chemicals. Vollara’s exclusive ActivePure is the only air cleaning technology awarded the prestigious Certified Space Technology seal by the Space Foundation, and works to continuously clean and protect air and surfaces 24 hours a day.

 

 

Sources:

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disinfection_by-product

[2] http://www.mountsinai.org/patient-care/service-areas/children/areas-of-care/childrens-environmental-health-center/childrens-disease-and-the-environment/children-and-toxic-chemicals

[3] http://www.alive.com/articles/view/16745/crack_down_on_household_chemicals

[4] Ibid

6 Things You Probably Aren’t Cleaning (But Totally Should Be)

6 Things You Probably Aren’t Cleaning (But Totally Should Be)

 

Your weekly cleaning schedule probably includes making sure all the majors are covered: floors, countertops, sinks, tubs, surfaces. But dirt, grime and dust don’t discriminate – they can (and will) settle anywhere, even on places you might not think to clean on a regular basis. So despite your best efforts, you may find yourself or family members coming down with more colds, stomach bugs or allergy and asthma flare-ups.

 

Here’s our list of the 6 items you should add to your cleaning rotation!

 

 

Your reusable water bottle

These are great: ditch disposable bottled water and fill your own reusable container. But are you diligent about washing it…or do you just do a cursory swirl of hot water every now and then? Both aluminum and plastic water bottles need a good cleaning to prevent mold and bacteria from forming inside, which could potentially contaminate your water.

You’ll need a bottle brush (which itself can be washed in your dishwasher), hot water and soap. Make sure you get into the curves and crevices of the bottle, and don’t forget to thoroughly scrub the lid components, including the mouthpiece (if there is one). You can also run your bottle and lid through the dishwasher, if instructions on the bottle or from the manufacturer indicate this is safe.

 

 

Your steering wheel

If you think about it for 5 seconds, you know we’re right. And here’s the thing: it’s worse than you think. Research has found that while 80 bacteria lurk on each square inch of toilet, around 700 harmful bugs inhabit the car’s interior.[1]

If your steering wheel is leather, pre-moistened leather wipes can be used for cleaning. For non-leather wheels, a regular antibacterial wipe can be used, or you can use a warm, soapy dish towel (wring out well beforehand) to wipe down the wheel.

 

 

Your reusable grocery bags

It’s becoming more and more popular (and in some cities, necessary) to bring reusable grocery bags with you when you shop. But food like meat, fruit and produce can be packed in less-than-secure packaging and be prone to leak. And that’s not something you want seeping into the fabric of your reusable bags.

Many bags are washable, with cotton varieties readily available. Washing them with hot water (or with your LaundryPure!) will eliminate the bacteria or sticky residue inside the bag.

 

 

Your earbuds

You wear them everywhere, including the gym – but do you ever clean them? The last thing you want to do is put something teeming with bacteria inside your ear.

Start by cleaning the earbud with a clean, dry toothbrush. This will sweep away dust and dirt in the metal parts of the earbud. Then use a premoistened antibacterial wipe to wipe down the bud. If you’d rather not use the antibacterial wipe, mix up a small bowl of warm water with a drop of dish soap. Quickly dip part of a paper towel into the solution, wring out, and use that to clean your earbuds. Of course, whenever possible, avoid sharing your earbuds with others.

 

 

Your hairbrushes & combs

Ladies (and a few gents!), does cleaning your hairbrush amount to a cursory removal of hair every few months…and that’s it? If you’ve noticed your hair feeling greasy of frizzy, it could be because of a build-up on your hairbrush.

After you remove the excess hair trapped within the bristles of the brush, fill a baking dish with warm water and 1 tablespoon each of dish soap and vinegar. Allow to soak at least one hour, or overnight. Rinse with clean water, and use toothbrush to scrub away any still-stuck on hair product or grime. Place the brushes on top of towel and let dry.

 

 

Your keys

They’re with you almost all the time – and to make them work, you have to touch them. It stands to reason, then, that your set of keys could be caked with all kinds of nastiness. So if the last time you cleaned them was never, take heed: it’s a relatively simple process.

Remove the keys from the ring (use an antibacterial wipe for gate/car entry clickers). Fill a bowl with (you guessed it!) warm soapy water. Using an unused toothbrush and a few toothpicks for smaller grooves, scrub the keys. Rinse well under clean water, and dry thoroughly before adding them back to your key ring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: [1] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1379830/How-clean-car-Steering-wheels-times-germs-public-toilet-seat.html

MRSA Outbreaks Call For Protection and Prevention

MRSA Outbreaks Call For Protection and Prevention

 

As a topic, new MRSA cases seem to remain front and center in the news – becoming more widespread within professional sports locker rooms, schools, hospitals and now in the safety of your own home. And while researchers have found a cure to kill MRSA cells, prevention really is the ideal preference. Why? Because MRSA infections are on the rise and worrisome to many doctors.

 

“We are no longer fighting just a germ. We are fighting a piece of DNA that moves easily from one bacteria in our intestine to another,” said Dr. Scott Stienecker, medical director of epidemiology and infection prevention and director of infectious disease services at Parkview Health in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.[1]

 

And Kim Lewis, Distinguished Professor of Biology and Director of Northeastern’s Antimicrobial Discovery Center, echoes Stienecker’s sentiments. He explains how the specialized class of cells within MRSA have evolved to survive. “Sur­vival is their only func­tion,” he said. “They don’t do any­thing else.”

 

Besides hygiene cautions one can take to eliminate the risk of contracting MRSA, there are also environmental safeguards that can be enacted, especially within the home.

 

Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics each year in the United States, and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result of these infections.[2]

 

The CDC suggests that disinfectants are most likely to be effective against MRSA, and notes that “most will have a list of germs on the label that the product can destroy.” The CDC goes on to note that when disinfecting, it’s important to focus on surfaces that come into contact with bare skin. Doorknobs, faucets, athletic training benches and equipment, and light switches all fall into this category. [3]

 

There are products available that can continually treat the air and surfaces in your personal residence, which helps greatly reduce the chances of contamination.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

[1] http://www.fortwayne.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140608/NEWS/320136418

[2] http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/threat-report-2013/

[3] http://www.cdc.gov/mrsa/community/enviroment/index.html

Asked & Answered: What is ozone, and does it have benefits?

Asked & Answered: What is ozone, and does it have benefits?

Q:

What is ozone, and what, if any, are its benefits?

 

A:

To put it simply, ozone (O3) is a highly reactive gas composed of three oxygen atoms. It’s both a natural and man-made product that occurs in the Earth’s upper and lower atmosphere. It absorbs UV light, reducing human exposure to harmful UV radiation that causes skin cancer and cataracts[1], damages crops and destroys certain types of marine life.[2]

 

Because it’s a cleaning and sanitizing agent, ozone systems now operate in many food industries, including poultry, seafood, produce and water bottling.[3]

 

In fact, in 2000, the Electric Power Research Institute published “Food Industry 2000: Food Processing Opportunities, Challenges, New Technology Applications.” The report contains the following statement: “Ozone destroys bacteria, mold, mildew, spores, yeast and fungus. It inactivates viruses and cysts. Chlorine is not very effective against viruses and has limited effect on some types of bacteria … ozone reacts much faster than chlorine.”[4]

 

Dr. Andrew Weil is the Harvard-educated Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, where he also holds the Lovell-Jones Endowed Chair in Integrative Rheumatology and is Clinical Professor of Medicine and Professor of Public Health. On his eponymous website, DrWeil.com, Dr. Weil noted that in 2001, the FDA approved the use of “ozone as an additive to kill food-borne pathogens, a decision that enabled food processors to use ozone in their plants. Since then, the Lotus Sanitizing System designed for home use was introduced and named one of the ‘Best Inventions of 2006’ by TIME Magazine,” noting it “has gotten a lot of enthusiastic press elsewhere.”[5]

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

[1] http://www.epa.gov/apti/ozonehealth/what.html

[2] http://environment.about.com/od/ozonedepletion/a/whatisozone.htm

[3] http://www.foodquality.com/details/article/807905/The_Case_for_Ozone.html?tzcheck=1

[4] Ibid

[5] http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA400305/ozone-for-food-safety