Toxins from Household Cleaners

Found in pregnant women’s bodies

Toxins from Household Cleaners. Healthy Living Magazine

Toxins from Household Cleaners. Healthy Living Magazine

A case-control study of pregnant women in Brittany, France, from 2002 to 2006, enrolled expectant mothers in the middle of their second trimester before knowing if the baby they carried harbored a birth defect.

The women answered questions on their exposure to 11 product classes that are known to contain glycol ethers and chlorinated solvents, chemicals found in cleaners, hair colorants and auto sprays. The women provided urine samples tested for 10 metabolites of glycol ethers and chlorinated solvents.

Cleaners, nurses, nurse aides, hairdressers and chemists/biologists experienced the highest exposures. Being exposed regularly to these chemicals made the women 4x more likely to have oral cleft babies contrasted with the women without birth defect children. The most intensively exposed women were 12x more likely to have a baby with an oral cleft.

Glycol ethers break down into different metabolites including ethoxy ethoxyacetic acid (EEAA). Women with EEAA in their urine were 11x more likely to have an oral cleft defect child compared to blood free of the toxin.

Homemakers at highest risk include women of childbearing age; in addition, cleaning crews throughout the US are comprised of women of childbearing age who may wear gloves at most, perhaps, as protection. They inhale and absorb fumes from cleaning products all day. And some of them will be with baby.

Read: Anxiety And Depression Of Pregnancy

Wheezing Babies

Additional studies link a woman’s exposure to cleaning products during her pregnancy with increased risk of giving birth to children prone to wheezing and respiratory problems.

In the October 2013 International Journal of Public Health use of household cleaning products during pregnancy is linked with high incidence of respiratory tract infections and wheezing during early life.

Ethers and Birth Defects

A study from the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health identified chemicals of concern in cleaning products. The researchers looked at 105 products and identified 132 different chemicals. Among the most frequently occurring ingredients were the glycol ethers, a family of petroleumderived solvents. Yet despite an omnipresence in cleaning products for the glycol ethers, no information whatsoever on reproductive hazards is found on labels.

Researchers measured pregnancy outcomes and cleaning product use among four different Spanish populations with 2,292 pregnant women. When infants were 12-18 months old, current cleaning product use and wheezing and lower respiratory tract problems were reported. The prevalence was higher when sprays or air fresheners were used during pregnancy. The odds of wheezing increased with spray and solvent use. The associations between spray and air freshener use during pregnancy remained apparent when these products were not used after pregnancy.

Nevertheless, the estimates were higher when post-natal exposure was included, indicating the sprays are sensitizers and lung irritants.

Read: Silver Baby

“The use of cleaning sprays, air fresheners and solvents during pregnancy may increase the risk of wheezing and infections in the offspring.” The use of glycol ethers is frequent. Tilex, Lysol, Zep, Easy-Off and Clorox use them and dominate the market.

There are brands that test free of dioxane, a marker for petrochemical usage, and do not have these birth defectlinked ingredients.

HealthyLivinG Foundation hired an independent lab that performed a number of analyses of cleaning products. In one test, a chamber analysis measured off-gassing of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) including glycol ethers from a typical mainstream product and a green cleaner called Parsley Plus from Earth Friendly Products (ECOS). Chamber testing revealed 10x fewer VOCs for the nontoxic alternative.

This is clear evidence of the cleaner product's commitment to avoiding petrochemical ingredients and other manufacturing processes that undergo rigorous testing by independent groups monitoring the safety of household cleaning products.

Casas L, Zock JP, Carsin AE, Fernandez-Somoano A, Esplugues A, Santa-Marina L, Tardón A, Ballester F, Basterrechea M, Sunyer J.The use of household cleaning products during pregnancy and lower respiratory tract infections and wheezing during early life. Int J Public Health. 2013 Oct;58(5):757-64. doi: 10.1007/s00038-012-0417-2. Epub 2012 Oct 11.
Cordier, S, R Garlantézec, L Labat, F Rouget, C Monfort, N Bonvallot, B Roig, J Pulkkinen, C Chevrier and L Multigner. 2012. Exposure during pregnancy to glycol ethers and chlorinated solvents and the risk of congenital malformations. Epidemiology Fabian Melchior Gerster, David Vernez, Pascal Pierre Wild, and Nancy Brenna Hopf Hazardous substances in frequently used professional cleaning products Int J Occup Environ Health. 2014 Mar; 20(1): 46–60. doi: 10.1179/2049396713Y.0000000052
Rawlings SJ, Shuker DE, Webb M, Brown NA. The teratogenic potential of alkoxy acids in postimplantation rat embryo culture: structure-activity relationships. Toxicol Lett. 1985 Oct;28(1):49-58.
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