Adverts portray household cleaners as totally safe to use; but the reality is actually more sinister than you would expect. While these chemical cleaners are useful in sanitizing, degreasing, washing, and whitening our surfaces and clothes, they also contain 3 chemicals that are harmful to our water and air because they contribute to smog, reduce the quality of water, and are toxic to animals. The next time your toilet, or sink clogs, instead of pouring deadly cleaners down, the drain, contact your closest plumber.
The Hidden Poison – Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Ammonia
The US Environmental Protection Agency groups the chemicals nitrogen, phosphorus and ammonia as the worst environmental hazards hidden in household cleaners. And yet, according to the Canadian Labor Environmental Alliance Society, dishwasher detergents are 30 to 40 percent phosphorus. And ammonia is a multipurpose cleaner that can be found in many products used for removing allergens, degreasing, and sanitizing.
In farms, these chemicals are used in controlled environments where their environmental impact can be minimized. But the same cannot be said about the amounts that escape into the environment due to the use of household detergents.
The Destructive Impact
When households rinse down and drain their household cleaners, most pollutants are removed from the drainage water by waste treatment facilities before being released into rivers and other waterways…but not these three culprits.
Nitrogen, phosphorus and ammonia are allowed to enter these waterways where they eventually build up to large quantities. Because they are key nutritive components for certain types of plants, this accumulation leads to dense vegetation that clogs waterways and crowds out other plants, and aquatic animals.In large uncontrolled quantities, these chemicals can cause significant damage to waterways and aquatic animals by accelerating the growth of deadly algae.
At the end of their accelerate-growth life cycle, these plants die away in large quantities and start to rot, depleting oxygen in the process and suffocating other aquatic life like fish which, in turn, die and continue the cycle of rot.
In the long run, the water becomes unsuitable for cooking, drinking, and bathing.
Taking to the Skies
It does not end there; these 3 chemicals affect the air we breathe as well.
Once the nitrogen, phosphorus, and ammonia in our household cleaners escape into the atmosphere—usually when we open the windows—they contribute to smog. Their contribution to forming smog is so significant that certain areas have passed legislation limiting their use in household cleaners. For example, California’s Air Resources Board has stipulated limits for the use of these products in the California Consumer Products Regulations.
What You Can Do
Well for starters, you can reduce the rate at which you use household cleaners, and when you do use them, go for those that boast the lowest quantities of these chemicals within their contents.