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Cleaning Safety for Hepatitis C

Nicole Cutler L.Ac.

April 28, 2009

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Despite the claim that cleanliness is next to godliness, the products you use to keep your home clean may be worsening Hepatitis C. Particularly important for those with chronic liver disease, this informative article describes the most dangerous cleaning products and details how you can make toxin-free cleaning solutions.

Without a successful course of treatment, Hepatitis C often causes gradual, progressive liver damage. Thus, anyone living with this virus must take additional steps to protect themselves from toxins capable of causing additional liver injury. Unfortunately, potential liver hazard items can be found in all aspects of modern day life. Inside most people’s homes, cleaning products harbor some of the most hazardous chemicals known. By reducing exposure to these toxins, those with Hepatitis C can protect themselves from unintentionally worsening their liver’s condition.

Because the chemicals in cleaning products are not dispersed as easily indoors as outdoors, concentrations of toxic chemicals are highest indoors. According to a United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report, dangerous compounds in the home may exceed the toxins found outside by up to 100 times or more.

Those with chronic Hepatitis C are more vulnerable to the toxins in cleaning products because:

  • Chronic liver disease may have damaged portions of their liver, leaving fewer functioning cells to detoxify poisons.
  • Chronic liver disease can cause liver inflammation, which diminishes the liver’s ability to detoxify poisons.
  • Scarring from chronic liver disease can interfere with circulation throughout the liver, leaving more toxins in the blood to further damage liver cells.

Dangerous Cleaning Products

While there is a long list of potentially hazardous ingredients in cleaning products, the following appear to be some of the worst offenders:

  1. Air Fresheners and Deodorizers – These products can contain hormone-disrupting phthalates, cancer-causing chemicals such as formaldehyde and benzene, and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as d-limonene that can irritate your eyes, skin and respiratory system, and cause headaches, nausea and dizziness.
  2. Alkyl Phenol Ethoxylates (APEs) – Also known as surfactants, these chemicals are found in laundry detergents, all-purpose cleaners and stain removers. Unfortunate for those with diminished liver function, APEs break down into hormone-disrupting chemicals.
  3. Glycol Ethers – Found in glass cleaners, floor cleaners and oven cleaners, glycol ethers can damage the nervous system, kidneys and liver, and be absorbed by the skin from the air.
  4. Petroleum Distillates – Typically used as solvents, petroleum distillates are found in metal polishes and adhesive removers. They can cause temporary eye clouding, as well as long-term damage to the nervous system, kidneys and eyes.
  5. Phenol and Cresol – Often found in disinfectants, phenol and cresol can cause diarrhea, fainting, dizziness and kidney and liver damage.
  6. Toilet Bowl Cleaners – These emit naphthalene fumes, which can cause liver and kidney damage if ingested. Toilet bowl cleaners typically contain aradichlorobenzene, a toxin believed to cause cancer.
  7. Citrus – Cleaners containing citrus can claim to be natural, but are often concocted with d’limonene, a chemical more toxic than toluene, which can damage bone marrow, liver and kidneys.
  8. Laundry Aids – Fabric softeners and dryer sheets contain chemicals such as chloroform and benzyl acetate that are neurotoxic and carcinogenic. Exposure can be through inhalation or skin contact from dryer exhaust or from treated clothes, sheets and towels.

Toxin-Free Cleaning Solutions

Those who are alerted to the dangers posed by cleaning products often purchase products from their local health food store. Luckily, several environment-friendly companies have identified the negligence of traditional cleaning product manufactures and offer alternatives for those concerned with toxin exposure. However, those on a budget may find the prices of toxin-free cleaning products to be significantly pricier than their traditional counterparts.

Fortunately, making your own supply of cleaners is relatively easy and inexpensive. Below are some recipes that can be confidently and safely used in the home of someone with Hepatitis C:

  • All-Purpose Cleaner – To clean many hard surfaces (excluding marble), combine equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
  • Scouring Powder – Mix 3 parts baking soda with 1 part borax. Keep handy in a shaker jar and use gloves when using, but keep away from children as it should not be ingested and may cause skin irritation.
  • Microwave Cleaner – Put several slices of lemon in 1 microwaveable cup of water. Heat on high for three minutes, then let it sit for three minutes. Open up the microwave and wipe clean; the steam loosens any grime and the lemon kills germs and has a pleasant scent.
  • Mold and Mildew Remover – Combine two teaspoons of tea tree oil in two cups of water in a spray bottle. Shake to blend and spray on problem areas. Do not rinse. The smell of tea tree oil is very strong, but will dissipate in a few days.
  • Furniture Polish – In a glass jar, mix ½ teaspoon olive or jojoba oil with ¼ cup vinegar or fresh lemon juice. Dab a soft rag into the solution and wipe onto wood surfaces to polish.
  • Laundry Detergent – Use 1/3 cup washing soda plus 1 ½ cup natural soap flakes. Add ½ cup Borax for whitening and softening. You can reduce the amount of cleaner needed by magnetizing your water using magnetic laundry disks or balls; these rip apart water molecule bonds to create ‘activated’ or ‘structured’ water and make it easier to remove dirt.
  • Dryer Sheets – To eliminate static cling, toss a small wet towel into the dryer a few minutes before the end of the cycle.
  • Carpet Cleaner – Sprinkle cornstarch on a dry carpet, leave on for five minutes and then vacuum.

Undoubtedly, there are many toxins in the average person’s arsenal of household cleaners. Since the ingredients in many cleaning products put an additional toxic load on the liver, people with Hepatitis C are advised to use cleaners made with non-toxic ingredients whenever possible. Besides buying products devoid of dangerous chemicals, making several of these simple, homemade remedies can help individuals with Hepatitis C keep within a budget, maintain cleanliness and protect their liver.

References:

http://earth911.com/household/household-cleaners/facts-about-

cleaning-products/, Facts About Cleaning Products, Retrieved April 24, 2009, earth911.com.
http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26903507//, The Dirty Truth About Cleaning Products, Retrieved April 24, 2009, Microsoft, October 2008.

http://www.alive.com/1271a4a2.php?subject_bread_cramb=598, So Clean, It’s Sickening, Michael Downey, BSc, Retrieved April 24, 2009, Alive Publishing Group, 2009.

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/make-your-own-non-toxic-cleaning-

kit.html, How to Make a Non-Toxic Cleaning Kit, Annie B. Bond, Retrieved April 24, 2009, Care2.com Inc., 2009.

http://www.healthyhepper.com/liverhazzards.htm, Substances that are Harmful (or potentially harmful) to the Liver, Retrieved April 24, 2009, healthyhepper.com, 2009.

http://www.sierraclubgreenhome.com/uncategorized/green-household-

cleaning/, Green Cleaning Supplies, Retrieved April 24, 2009, Sierra Club Green Home, 2009.

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Posted by Nicole Cutler L.Ac. on April 28, 2009

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