Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, are gases which are emitted from chemicals used to created scented products—and your toxic laundry detergent may contain dozens of them. A groundbreaking study conducted by the University of Washington found over 100 Volatile Organic Compounds in common commercial laundry soap, many of them known carcinogens.
Volatile Organic Compounds in Detergents
“I first got interested in this topic because people were telling me that the air fresheners in public restrooms and the scent from laundry products vented outdoors were making them sick,” Dr. Steinemann said in an interview for the University of Washington’s UE News at the time. “…I wanted to know, ‘What’s in these products that is causing these effects?’”
The study zeroed in on 25 top-selling laundry detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets and other cleaning and sundry products. They found a total of 133 VOCs in these products. The average number of VOCs in each product was 17. Close to half of the products contained two dozen or more VOCs.
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Why Your Detergent Could Be Making You Sick
The U of W study focused on the types and quantity of toxic substances, not the
specific health effects related to them. They didn’t need to. Unfortunately, we have years of research to draw on regarding the carcinogenic properties of many of these substances. The most common VOC found in the University of Washington study were:
1,4-Dioxane: 1,4-Dioxane is used as a stabilizer in laundry detergents. In 2012, the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry issues an official Health Advisory regarding this substance, stating that “Laboratory studies show that repeated exposure to large amounts of 1,4-dioxane …causes liver and kidney damage in animals.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) categorizes 1,4-dioxane as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”
Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is a preservative and disinfectant that can be especially harmful with long-term exposure. Both the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the National Toxicology Program has classified formaldehyde as a human carcinogen since 2011.
Methylene Chloride: Methylene Chloride, also known as dichloromethane, is a known xenoestrogen. A 2013 Chinese meta-analysis found a distinct correlation between exposure to this substance and dozens of cancers, including lymphoma and leukemia as well as brain, lung and breast cancer.
What About Government Regulation of VOCs?
Many countries around the world, especially in the EU, now have strict regulations for the use of VOCs. This is not the case in the United States, even though U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states there are no safe exposure level for them.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which monitors and supposedly regulates consumer products for safety, does not require cleaning supply, air freshener and laundry product companies to disclose specific ingredients on their labels.
Don’t be fooled by “Natural” labels, either. The University of Washington study also found that many laundry detergents labeled as “safe” or “natural” actually contained harmful VOCs, even when they are advertised as “fragrance free.” In independent tests done by the organization Women’s Voices for the Earth, scientists found 1,4-dioxane at the level of 89 parts per million in Tide Free and Gentle and only 62 ppm in regular Tide.
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The toxic threats that lurk in your laundry detergent are real. Two national surveys also conducted by U of W found that approximately 20 percent of the population complains of immediate adverse effects from exposure to laundry products being vented outdoors.
Dr. Veronique Desaulniers (“Dr V”) is the founder of Breast Cancer Conqueror.com and The 7 Essentials System®. This step-by-step guide empowers you with knowledge so you Never Have to Fear Breast Cancer Again! To watch a FREE webinar about the 7 steps for beating breast cancer naturally, Click Here