In the process of cleaning and disinfecting your home, you could be exposing your family to harsh, unnatural chemicals. According to the EPA, levels of pollutants indoors can be from 2 to more than 100 times higher than those outdoors, simply due to the volatile organic compounds that evaporate from home decorating and cleaning products. Luckily, you can take actions, like changing your dishwasher detergent, to drastically reduce the amount of pollutants that you introduce into your home and the environment.
The conventional detergents used in an automatic dishwasher can contain very harmful substances, like chlorine and phosphates. Chlorine creates harmful toxins that can accumulate in humans and animals and cause cancer, birth defects, and developmental and reproductive disorders. At the same time, dishwasher detergents account for about a third of the phosphates that build up in U.S. waterways and cause problematic algae blooms that choke out other life forms.
Look for non-toxic, biodegradable dishwashing liquids that do not contain chlorine or phosphates. Be wary of labels that boast, “green” or “natural,” and instead steer toward those that claim specific qualities, like “chlorine-free” or “phosphate-free.” Even better, check out the ingredients. If substances like butyl cellosolve, petroleum, triclosan or phosphates are present, then the product is not earth-friendly and should be avoided. This small substitution will be kinder to the environment, especially waterway ecosystems, while creating a safer place for your family.
Did you know that phosphates, a common ingredient of dishwasher detergents, can be harmful to the health of humans,
in addition to the environment?
Phosphates are water-softening minerals that are
added to detergents to enhance the removal of stains and food buildup. According to the EPA, phosphates have been
evaluated as a carcinogen. They can also cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea if ingested.
Did you know that companies are not required to label the exact ingredients in their dishwasher
Often, conventional detergents will have the ingredients presented in a
very vague manner, like “contains surfactants,” rather than listing the specific types. This can lead us to
assume they are attempting to conceal the presence of some alarming ingredients. On the other hand, you will find that
eco-friendly detergents will have all the ingredients listed in a straightforward manner, as none of them are potentially
harmful. So, it definitely pays to check the labels!
Did you know that the U.S. and Canada signed the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement in 1972, which banned the use of
phosphates in laundry detergents and dish soaps?
As a result, there was a
considerable decrease in the amount of algae blooms in the Great Lakes. However, the terms of this agreement have been
weakly enforced and phosphates are still used in dishwashing detergents around the world.
know that the average U.S. household releases approximately 60 to 150 gallons of wastewater each day, much of it due to
Municipal water treatment facilities do their best to filter the
wastewater, but some of the synthetic chemicals from detergents used inevitably make their way into
SOURCES : 1. Hunter, Linda Mason & Mikki Halpin. Green Clean. “Automatic Dishwasher.” New York: Melcher Media. 2005.