There are toxic chemicals found in almost all products we use, which are harmful for us as well as the environment. We hardly give a thought to our floor and bathroom cleaners, gas stove or even cooking oil and keep using them without really caring how harmful they are to us. They increase the risk of allergies, lung cancer, and asthma. There are many effects of toxic chemicals on the environment once they leach out into the waterways and atmosphere. Here’s a closer look at some of these chemicals and in what ways they harm us and the environment:
Harmful effects of toxic chemicals on the environment
When cleaning liquids go down the drains, they also are treated along with the water in sewage plants. Some of them break down, but others do not. These chemicals then find their way into waterways, thus leading to harmful effects of toxic chemicals on the environment. These chemicals then affect the wildlife and the marine life. According to a study by the US Geographical Survey, 69% of water in streams contained detergent metabolites.
What are APEs?
APEs or alkylphenol ethoxylates are surfactants, which are a key ingredient added to detergents to make them effective cleaning agents. They are added to disinfectants detergents and citrus degreasers and stain removers. APEs such as octylphenol and nonylphenol ethoxylates do not break down readily in water and soil. They mimic the female hormone estrogen and interfere with the survival and reproduction of fish – including salmon. John Sumpter, a researcher in Britain, discovered male fish, which were exposed to the APEs, were actually producing female egg proteins. These APEs have also been seen to proliferate estrogen-sensitive cancer cells (breast cancer cells) in the laboratory.
Other effects of toxic chemicals on the environment is that chemicals like phosphates behave like fertilizer in the waterways which leads to an overabundance of algae and other water plants. This excess plant life in the water kills off other marine organisms.
The plastic bottles that the cleaning liquids are packaged in present another problem to the environment. Plastic pollution in the landfills contributes to global warming.
How is your indoor environment affected by chemicals?
Indoor air and environment are also majorly affected by the various products we use. The harmful effects of chemicals in our daily life are respiratory diseases, asthma, and breathing allergies. Three pollutants which are most common in homes are
Acrolein – released by cooking oil to very high temperatures as well as cigarette smoke
Formaldehyde – released by various building materials
Particulates – released by tobacco smoke as well as atmospheric pollution
The effects of chemicals on human health have been studied by scientists which have led them to conclude that many diseases are caused by indoor environment pollution. The negative effects of toxic chemicals on the environment, both indoor and outdoor, are a cause for concern.
Did you know your gas range could be toxic?
By now, we know about cleaning agents and personal care products containing chemicals, which are highly toxic for us. Apart from harmful effects of chemicals in our daily life, the appliances we regularly use in our homes can be quite dangerous too. For example, if your gas range is not well maintained, it can produce NO (Nitrogen Oxide), which might cause respiratory problems. Do get your gas range fixed if it has a yellow flame, as gas flames’ tips should be always blue. If you have to buy a new gas stove, buy one which does not have a pilot light. You might also opt an electric stove to cook.
Woodstoves which are not maintained properly can release particulates as well as gases such as carbon monoxide. Children are particularly affected by the emissions from wood stoves. If you have a woodstove, burn only cured or aged wood, keeping the stove doors tightly shut. Never ever use treated wood, as it receives chemical treatment.
What is the sick building phenomenon?
Have you ever suffered from mysterious headaches, dry cough, itchy skin, nausea, fatigue, and so on? The reason could be due to the ‘sick building syndrome’, which cause all these as well as decreasing alertness, odor sensitivity, irritation of the throat, eyes, and nose. Usually, these symptoms disappear when you go out of the building.
Keeping your home well-ventilated and appliances well-maintained. Use natural cleaners for your home to reduce the harmful effects of chemicals in our daily life. Baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice can clean most things at home and keep you safe from the ill effects of chemical pollution.