Chlorine bleach has long been used as a disinfectant and cleaner. But if you’ve ever gotten a bit too close to the fumes or had a splash hit your skin, you know the harm that even brief exposure can cause. Blurred vision, a burning/itching sensation in your nose and throat, coughing, trouble breathing, and even redness and sores on your skin are just some of the hazards of chlorine bleach exposure.
Many people view using chlorine bleach as a necessary evil. It does do a good job at disinfecting and removing stains. However, we are subjected to major advertising campaigns that warn if us if we don’t coat our toilets, sinks, countertops, doorknobs, keyboards, and any other high-touch areas with chlorine bleach, we are leaving our homes and families vulnerable to an attack from an army of bacteria and viruses. And most certainly our basket of whites will never be truly clean without adding chlorine bleach to every wash load.
Is there a better way to get the cleaning and disinfecting power of chlorine bleach without the health and environmental risks? Thankfully, the answer is, yes.
Benefits of Oxygen Bleach
There are non-chlorine products, also referred to as “oxygen cleaners,” which can provide healthier cleaning and disinfecting alternatives. Oxygen bleach works to clean organic stains and breaks down into oxygen and water. There are no harsh chemicals and it is considered environmentally friendly. So what is in oxygen bleach that makes it so much better?
According to NonChlorineBleach.org, oxygen bleaches “have ingredients like sodium percarbonate and sodium perborate. These non-chlorine bleaches are very good for clothes as it does not harm the fabric and also maintains bright colors. They do not oxidize clothes heavily hence the color of the clothes remains the same. It is advisable to use non-chlorine bleaches for household purpose as it is gentle on the skin, clothes, and are environmentally friendly also….Hydrogen peroxide is a non-chlorine bleach which kills small organisms.”
Doctor Matthew Hoffman recommends using oxygen bleach with hydrogen peroxide to kill mold and mildew, sanitize surfaces and remove stains. Oxygen bleach offers cleaning and sanitizing, all without harsh chemicals damaging your health and the environment.
The Dangers of Chlorine Bleach
Chlorine bleach is one of the most widely-used cleaners. However, it is also one of the harshest. According to WebMD.com, “Because it’s used so frequently, chlorine bleach is the most common cleaner that kids accidentally swallow….When mixed with ammonia — another common ingredient of household cleaning products — and acidic cleaners such as toilet bowl cleaners, the mixture releases poisonous gasses.”
The West Virginia University Extention links chlorine-based compounds, like dioxins, with low sperm count, testicular cancer, and breast cancer due to their ability to mimic human hormones. Relatively low levels released into air and water supplies accumulate over time and may lead to long-term health concerns.
Chlorine bleach poses significant risks to the environment. When manufacturers who use chlorine bleach release it into local water bodies, it reacts with other minerals and elements to form dangerous toxins including dioxins and furams, which can take many years to disappear. The World Wildlife Fund issued a warning that these chlorine by-products can cause sterility, mutations, and even extinction in wildlife species.
Livestrong.com states, “Factories that rely on chlorine bleach also emit toxins into the air during the ventilation and exhaust processes. Some chlorine and related by-products remain in the air, where they contribute to air pollution…[T]hese toxins can cause severe long- and short-term respiratory irritation upon inhalation. They may also contribute to problems with the immune system, blood, and heart.”
In addition, chlorine bleach by-products in the air eventually reach Earth’s atmosphere and the ozone layer. Chlorine bleach is linked to the depletion of the ozone layer, which has dire environmental effects in terms of global warming.
The next time you clean and disinfect your home, consider using products containing oxygen bleach. The only things you have to lose are ugly stains, mold, mildew, and bacteria instead of your health, wildlife, and environment.
NonChlorine Bleach. (n.d.) retrieved January 22 2017, from NonChlorineBleach.org Web Site: http://www.nonchlorinebleach.org
Hoffman M. (n.d.) The Best Non-toxic Ways to Clean Your Home. retrieved January 22 2017, from webmd.com Web Site: http://www.webmd.com/health-ehome-9/green-cleaning
Beach, E. (2015, June, 22). The Effects of Chlorine Bleach on the Environment. retrieved January 22 2017, from livestrong.com Web Site: http://livestrong.com/article/217675-the-effects-of-chlorine-bleach-on-the-environment/