Children & Chemical Exposure Outside the Home
Research Report

mop, spray bottle, and glovesMelaleuca's EcoSense® line of cleaners

Researched and Written by Karen MacKenzie

This report is on the toxins your children face when going into buildings where strong industrial cleaners are used. Luckily, you can replace all those harmful chemical cleaners in your home with safe, natural cleaning products like Sol-U-Guard Botanical from the EcoSense® Line of Cleaners, but most preschools, schools, hospitals, libraries, and recreational centers still have not gotten the message and are using strong chemicals every day, sometimes in the presence of you or your child!

Where are the Toxic Chemicals?

Our children are much more vulnerable to chemicals than we adults are. Their nervous and endocrine systems are under development and are much more likely to be disrupted by these harmful chemical messengers. Very young children are especially vulnerable because they crawl around the floor and when they put their hands into their mouths they transfer the toxic chemicals right into their systems. And remember, before they are born, they have already been exposed to the toxic chemicals their mothers have been exposed to!
Babies & Kids More Vulnerable to Toxins

In the very places where our children should be safe and protected, such as schools and nurseries, there is usually very little effort to find non toxic products for cleaning or building materials.

Susan Junfish is a concerned mother who lives in California. She has a B.S. in Nutritional Sciences from U.C. Berkeley. She has worked six years in Biotech doing pharmaceutical research, earned an MPH from the School of Public Health, Dept of Environmental Health Sciences from U.C. Berkeley, and worked over six years in the private and public sectors doing environmental health work. She is now volunteering full-time as Director of Parents for a Safer Environment (PfSE), whose mission it is to protect the developmental health of the growing child from unnecessary environmental hazards. When she looked at potential schools for her son she was horrified by what she found. Unfortunately, what she found is not uncommon. Read what others have found then follow this link and on read about what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is only begining to address. Safe Chemical Management in Schools

Chemical Exposures in our Children's Schools and in Hospitals

Stop inhalant hazards at home and at school!

Are you aware that most chemical cleaners and disinfectants are dangerous inhalants? The dangers of sniffing chemical inhalants are all too clear, but the dangers of accidental inhalation of household cleaners are often ignored. Our children are regularly the helpless victims of our own fastidious housework. When we try to keep our environment clean we may be inadvertently poisoning them! This article brings that fact to our attention. When teachers and janitors use sprays and cleaning products around schools they too could be adding to this problem. In one Massachusetts school, a teacher ignored a mother who asked her to stop cleaning a desk in front of her daughter, whose asthma was triggered by the cleaner. The teacher actually tried to defend her actions with a misguided attempt to explain that it was only a disinfectant! Teachers need to be educated too!
Cleaning Supplies Can Contaminate Classroom Air

New study finds pesticide poisoning at children's schools.

Walter A. Alarcon, M.D. (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) analyzed 2593 poisonings from the years 1998 to 2002. While the majority were poisonings from chemicals found in building work and pesticides, 830 (32%) of the cases were of poisoning by common disinfectants used in schools and other facilities. The researchers also added that these cases were made up only from those who sought medical help. It stands to reason that there were a fair number of cases that had symptoms and never reported them.
New Study Finds Pesticide Poisoning at Nation’s Schools

This ABC News story explains one experiment that shows how easily toxins can spread in the school setting. Girl's Illness Traced to 'Toxic' School.

Every parent should know...

Did you know that synthetic chemicals, including the ones we commonly use around our homes, day care centers, schools, libraries, shops, and restaurants have never been tested or proven to be safe, especially when combinations of exposures occur. No one knows the danger of the combination of chemicals that the average man, woman, child and pet comes into contact with, until WE show the symptoms. And how many decades have our symptoms been ignored for the sake of selling these harmful chemicals?

The Mount Sinai Hospital's Children's Environmental Health Center. Bookmark this site and use it for a resource if you are concerned about children's environments.

If you plan to talk to your child's day care center, school etc., may we suggest that you start by reviewing the Toxin Checklist with them. It is a helpful tool for exposing the short term and long term health effects of chemical exposure.

The National Academy of Sciences estimates that about 15% of the population has some type of chemical sensitivity. With constant exposure and the chemicals building up within the body, this will increase dramatically.

Did you know that these common products are considered pesticides?

  • Cleaners used to disinfect the kitchen floor.
  • Cleaners that kill bacteria and fungi.
  • Cleaning products used to remove the mildew on bathroom tiles.

The website, poison.org, shows statistics over 1 million children under six years of age are poisoned each year in America. The main categories of substances involved are cosmetics and personal care products, cleaning agents, analgesics, plants and cough and cold remedies.

We can't win if we do, we can't win if we don't clean.

It is clear that we need to keep our environments clean, the harmful bacteria and fungi can have some very nasty health effects. Reasons We Need Cleaners, Disinfectants and Sterilants.

Harmful Ingredients

Below is a list of just a few harmful ingredients in industrial cleaners and personal care products. There are many more!

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a toxic substance that can be included in household cleaners and even cosmetics. Fumes can accumulate in poorly ventilated areas and can cause headaches, nausea, watery eyes, sore throats, lung irritation, and serious respiratory damage. Children exposed to the same levels as adults have potentially a greater risk of suffering adverse symptoms.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are irritants and damage our health and our children's health. They cause headaches and eye, nose and throat irritations and even dizziness, increased cases of asthma, and respiratory problems. In some cases they are highly toxic. Research by the EPA and others have found that levels of VOCs can be many thousands times higher indoors than outdoors. The majority of VOCs come from building materials and furnishings. But we also add to this load by using synthetic chemical cleaners, which makes indoor air quality very poor. Common VOCs in schools and public indoor buildings include formaldehyde, decane, butoxyethanol, isopentane, limonene, styrene, xylenes, perchloroethylene, methylene chloride, toluene, and vinyl chloride. These are found in cleaning products, deodorizers, art supplies, new building materials, science and shop supplies, personal care items and pesticides.

Ammonia

Cleaning fluids are designed to dissolve grease and evaporate quickly…. Into the very air that we and our children breathe.

Children exposed to the same levels of ammonia vapor as adults may receive a larger dose because they have greater lung surface area:body weight ratios and increased minute volumes:weight ratios. In addition, they may be exposed to higher levels than adults in the same location because of their short stature and the higher levels of ammonia vapor found nearer to the ground.

From the Medical Management Guidelines for Ammonia.

Comments From Your Editor – EcoSense® Line of Cleaners

Melaleuca's EcoSense® cleaners are certainly a safer alternative to cleaning your home than using store-bought, chemical-laden disenfectants. However, schools and day-care establishments must adhere to strict regulations in regards to the cleaners they are allowed to use. Legally, day-cares may not pass inspection if they are not using pre-approved products. The best thing to happen for Melaleuca marketing executives with contacts in day-care was the premiere of the product Sol-U-Guard Botanical™. It has a patented disinfectant formula that is EPA-approved for use in a wide variety of commercial facilities, including day cares, schools, and nurseries.

I would love to know what you think about this report. You may contact us with any suggestions or comments about this report.

November 2005


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