The ability of organic chemicals to cause health effects varies greatly, from those that
are highly toxic, to those with no known health effect. As with other
pollutants, the extent and nature of the health effect will depend on many
factors including level of exposure and length of time exposed. Eye and
respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, and
memory impairment are among the immediate symptoms that some people have
experienced soon after exposure to some organics. At present, not much is known
about what health effects occur from the levels of organics usually found in
homes. Many organic compounds are known to cause cancer in animals; some are
suspected of causing, or are known to cause, cancer in humans.
www.epa.gov - Environmental Protection agency website
Of chemicals commonly found in homes, 150 have been linked to allergies, birth
defects, cancer, and psychological abnormalities.
Consumer Product Safety Commission
When combined, harsh chemicals are even more dangerous. Deadly fumes result from
mixing ammonia with bleach (both found in many household products) creating lethal "mustard gas"!
U.S. Government, E.P.A.
According to the National Research Council, no toxic information is available for more
than 80% of the chemicals in everyday-use products.
Only 1% of toxins are required to be listed on labels, because companies classify their
formulas as "trade secrets."
Lorie Dwornick, researcher, educator and activist, 2002
In the past 50 years more than 75,000 chemicals have been introduced into the environment.
Today 300 synthetic chemicals are found in the bodies of humans. Even newborn
babies have synthetic chemicals passed on from their mothers.
REACH (Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals, a European Union program)
More than 32 million pounds of household cleaning products are poured down the drain each
day nationwide. The toxic substances found in many of these are not adequately
removed by sewage treatment plants. Guess what happens when these are returned
to the rivers from which cities draw their drinking water?
Spring 2002 Edition of CCA Newsletter Partners "Cleaning Without Toxic Chemicals"
- More than 75,000 chemicals are licensed for commercial use
- More than 2,000 new synthetic chemicals are registered every year
- The EPA tallied close to 10,000 chemical ingredients in cosmetics, food and consumer products. Very few of these chemicals were
in our environment or our bodies just 75 years ago
- In 1998, U.S. industries manufactured 6.5 trillion pounds of 9,000 different chemicals
- In 2000, major American companies dumped 7.1 billion pounds of 650 different industrial chemicals into our air and water
- Except in the case of foods, drugs or pesticides, companies are under no legal or regulatory obligation to concern
themselves with how their products might harm human health
Alexandra Rome, Co-director of the Sustainable Futures Group at Commonweal, a nonprofit health and
environmental research institute, until 2000
- In 1990, more than 4,000 toddlers under age four were
admitted to hospital emergency rooms as a result of household
cleaner-related injuries. That same year, three-fourths of the 18,000
pesticide-related hospital emergency room admissions were children
- Over 80 percent of adults and 90 percent of children
in the United States have residues of one or more harmful pesticides in their bodies
- Petrochemical cleaning products in the home are
easily absorbed into the skin. Once absorbed, the toxins travel to the
blood stream and are deposited in the fatty tissues where they may exist
"In Harm's Way," a study by "The Clean Water Fund" and "Physicians for Social
Responsibility" May 11, 2000
Sources of Indoor Air Pollution - Organic Gases
Volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids.
VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and
long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently
higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a
wide array of products numbering in the thousands. Examples include: paints and
lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials
and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction
fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft materials including glues
and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions. Organic chemicals
are widely used as ingredients in household products. Paints, varnishes, and
wax all contain organic solvents, as do many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic,
degreasing, and hobby products. Fuels are made up of organic chemicals. All of
these products can release organic compounds while you are using them, and, to
some degree, when they are stored.
EPA's Total Exposure Assessment Methodology (TEAM) studies found levels of about a dozen
common organic pollutants to be 2 to 5 times higher inside homes than outside,
regardless of whether the homes were located in rural or highly industrial
areas. Additional TEAM studies indicate that while people are using products
containing organic chemicals, they can expose themselves and others to very
high pollutant levels, and elevated concentrations can persist in the air long
after the activity is completed.
The following is an excerpt from an EPA article:
Eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea; damage to
liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Some organics can cause cancer in
animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans. Key signs or
symptoms associated with exposure to VOCs include conjunctival irritation, nose
and throat discomfort, headache, allergic skin reaction, dyspnea, declines in
serum cholinesterase levels, nausea, emesis, epistaxis, fatigue, dizziness.
The ability of organic chemicals to cause health effects varies greatly from those that are
highly toxic, to those with no known health effect. As with other pollutants,
the extent and nature of the health effect will depend on many factors
including level of exposure and length of time exposed. Eye and respiratory
tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, and memory impairment
are among the immediate symptoms that some people have experienced soon after
exposure to some organics. At present, not much is known about what health
effects occur from the levels of organics usually found in homes. Many organic
compounds are known to cause cancer in animals; some are suspected of causing,
or are known to cause, cancer in humans.