Warning: Cleaning Products Can Cause Brain Damage

You must know your cleaning products to avoid brain damage.

Keeping things clean keeps you safe. Right? That all depends on what you are using to clean. Some cleaners are more dangerous than the germs you are cleaning to get rid of. Some cleaners pollute your home environment. Many cleaning products seem safe and you may use them daily. All cleaners are not created equal, even green cleaning products. You must know your cleaning products to avoid brain damage.

Commercial cleaning products have been linked to cancer, neurological problems, blindness, and asthma. Many are poisonous. Some can cause serious burns on skin or can burn internally when inhaled. It is common for cleaners to trigger an asthma attack. Many household cleaners won’t cause problems you can notice right away. Over time, toxins build up in your body and send your central nervous system into overload.

Some things, like air fresheners, don’t clean at all. They give the illusion of clean while filling the air with neuortoxins that can cause brain damage. Neurotoxins interfere with the transfer of signals between nerves. Cleaners also contain toxins that can cause respiratory problems. Children and the elderly are most susceptible.

How do you know which household cleaning products are safe? Cleaning product manufacturers don’t have to list ingredients. Products can be labeled “green” or “nontoxic” when they contain questionable ingredients. Even products that we automatically consider safe, like laundry detergent, can have harmful ingredients.

Learning about ingredients is a huge undertaking. The names of the chemicals are long and complicated. It takes a while to research and find a non-toxic cleaning product that you like. Then, your favorite cleaning products become “new and improved” taking you back to square one. Old cleaning products are replaced by new ones. It is hard to find the time to keep up.

The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit organization that can help. They analyze cleaning products and make their database available to the public. Their “Hall of Shame” names names. They will publish their full list in the fall, but you can get a sneak peak today. Just visit their website. http://www.ewg.org/cleaners/hallofshame/

The “Hall of Shame” has cleared up a few things about cleaning products for me. The first is my horrible reaction to Simple Green. Turns out it isn’t simple or green! Breathings becomes difficult for me and I cough. It also makes my eyes sting and water. Here’s the Simple Green excerpt:

Simple Green Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner

It’s labeled “non-toxic” and “biodegradable.” It contains:

  • 2-butoxyethanol, a solvent absorbed through the skin that damages red blood cells and irritates eyes;
  • A secret blend of alcohol ethoxylate surfactants. Some members of this chemical family are banned in the European Union.

Worse, the company website instructs the user to dilute the product significantly for even the heaviest cleaning tasks. Yet it comes in a spray bottle that implies it should be sprayed full-strength. Such use would result in higher exposures.

The second is my husband’s headache reaction to Citra-Solv. I always thought it was a natural cleaner. Here’s the Citra-Solv excerpt:

Citra-Solv Cleaner & Degreaser

These concentrated liquids and ready-to-use sprays contain d-limonene and orange oils from citrus peels. According to the company’s worker safety disclosure, Citra-Solv concentrate is 85 to 95 percent d-limonene. That the oils are derived from citrus implies safety, but sprayed into the air, they can react with trace levels of ozone air pollution to form ultra-fine particles that penetrate deep into the lungs and form formaldehyde, which the U.S. government classifies as a known human carcinogen. The California Air Resources Board advises people to limit the use of citrus- or pine oil-based cleaners on smoggy days to avoid exposure to particulates and formaldehyde.

The third is Comet. I’ve always known that Comet wasn’t green or natural, but I had no idea how toxic it really is. Comet is so common. It’s horrible to think of how many times I have used it! Here’s the Comet excerpt:

Comet Disinfectant Cleanser Powder

This product emitted 146 different chemicals, including some thought to cause cancer, asthma and reproductive disorders. The most toxic chemicals detected – formaldehyde, benzene, chloroform and toluene – are not listed on the label. Little is known about the health risks of most of the contaminants found.

Your brain suffers when it is over-exposed to cleaning product fumes. Brain cells die and lead to brain damage. This disrupts your normal brain activity. When you inhale toxic fumes they attack fatty tissues like the myelin sheath, a protective covering of the nerves in your brain. Over time, this protective covering disappears. This reduces the ability of your nervous system to function properly. This type of brain damage causes slowing of brain activity that affects your neurological and behavioral functions. The specific effects depend on which part of your brain is damaged. If there is damage to your cerebellum, movement can be affected. You can suffer from cognitive problems if your cerebral cortex is damaged.

When you are using commercial cleaners, be aware of signs that you are being exposed to dangerous chemicals. Symptoms you should look for are:

runny nose, stinging or itchy eyes, tearing, coughing, sneezing, itchy or burning skin, feeling out of breath, dizziness or headaches (even slight).

In severe cases, you may experience:

difficulty breathing or speaking clearly, irritability, weak or shaky hands. It is also possible to suffer memory loss, confusion or behavior changes.

Avoid brain damage. Take the label warnings on cleaners seriously. Use basic cleaners like baking soda, vinegar, washing soda and lemon juice first. If these natural cleaners with some elbow grease behind them don’t get the job done, then consider a store bought cleaning product. Protect your brain to keep it sharp. Do your research before you buy. Avoid “Hall of Shame” products. You can’t always control what happens outside your home, but you do have control over what you bring into your home. Don’t expose yourself to toxins that may cause brain damage. Take the time to read labels and leave toxic products at the store. Your brain will thank you!


Sierra EEG
Neurofeedback Therapy
142 East McKnight Way
Grass Valley, CA  95949
(530) 263-1413