Our health, and the increasingly fragile health of our environment, has been at risk for a while now from an unexpected quarter.
Most of the products we use around our homes or offices to clean or improve the smell of a dirty, dusty workplace are scented. And that's great.
What's not great is that fact that we get these scented products through creating a synthetic chemicals. Chemicals like: Galaxolide (or 1,3,4,6,7,8-hexahydro-4,6,6,7,8,8,-hexamethyl-cyclopenta[g]benzopyran (or HHCB))
Those products are then used in your home, your office, and your car.. even to wash your clothes or in your favourite face cream.
So, what's so bad about that?
Well, those synthetic chemicals aren't exactly meant to be inhaled or touched by humans to begin with, but the major problem is when those chemicals are washed down the drain.
Our water treatment plants cannot compete and Galaxolide has been slowly destroying delicate ecosystems.
It's been deemed a chemical of 'highest concern' whose use should be avoided due to it's highly persistent, bio-accumulative and aquatic toxicity properties.
What this means is that the chemical isn't easily broken down by environmental factors and builds up over time. It's highly toxic to most aquatic creatures and is slowly seeping into our waterways and lakes.
Which, in turn, means we're being further exposed to an increasingly dangerous chemical. Several studies have shown that Galaxide could have some severe negative effects on human health, including reproductive, metabolic, developmental and behavior problems as well as seriously messing with our bodies natural hormones.
Alarmingly, there is also evidence that this chemical is able to break down the body's natural defence against other toxic exposure.
What can be done about it?
Simple - Big companies stop making, or buying, synthetic chemicals to scent their products.
We really don't need to use chemicals like Galaxolide to makes things smell good. Actually, over the last several years some of the bigger manufacturers in Europe and the US began to phase out their use of these dangerous synthetic chemicals.
That is great news, and should push every other company who create cleaning products and other similar types of chemicals to do exactly the same.
What can you do about it?
My first piece of advice would be to make your own cleaning products at home. There are plenty of safe recipes out there you can use to create something that will clean your home without exposing you and your family to hazardous substances. Check out these homemade green-cleaning recipes.
If you can't make your own, or simply don't have the time, search for fragrance-free products. There are several options out there. Also remember that if you have questions about a specific ingredient in a product that you can call the manufacturer and they will provide all of the information you require.
Properly dispose of your synthetically scent products and use dried flowers, or essential oils. Be careful when using essential oils, they are a very concentrated liquid and can be dangerous if used incorrectly. Make sure to follow the proper instructions.
If you want to know more about dangerous chemicals and how you can safely use or handle them you can take the new COSHH Risk Assessor Certification™.