There are countless studies that document the hazards of common chemicals frequently used in laundry products. Here are just two of them.
One such chemical is 1.4-dioxane. The cumulative effects of 1.4-dioxane exposure, even at low levels, have resulted in laboratory animals developing cancer. The fact is, 1.4-dioxane is easily absorbed through the lungs, skin and gastrointestinal tract of mammals and it is also a major groundwater contaminant.
Unfortunately, 1.4-dioxane has become an increasing threat to waterways across the country. It has fouled water in Michigan and in several California towns, and it is likely to be present in many other places that do not test for it. When you use a laundry detergent containing 1.4-dioxane, it goes everywhere and it NEVER breaks down.
Another common contaminant, Nonylphenol Ethoxylates, or NPEs, can be found in laundry detergents. These chemicals are endocrine disruptors and estrogen mimickers, which can potentially cause hormonal problems or even cancer. When you absorb NPEs, your body just can’t tell the difference between NPEs and estrogen and this can affect your body chemistry.
Rainbow trout that are exposed to NPEs become part male and part female according to the Sierra Club, who recently petitioned the EPA to regulate NPEs. NPE pollution is likely to be at least partly responsible for a variety of odd gender-bending phenomena now being seen in aquatic species. And while the effects on humans as yet remain unknown, it is believed it could be creating hormone issues in people as well.
NPEs have been already banned in Canada and Europe because even the most sophisticated water treatment plants are unable to remove NPEs and their harmful by products. To make matters worse, according to the Sierra Club report, sewage processing can make NPE byproducts more toxic, more estrogenic and more persistent than NPEs themselves.
Laundry chemicals are also associated with other health issues such as: allergies, rashes, skin irritations, respiratory problems and eye irritation,…just to mention a few.
So how do you know if your detergent contains 1.4-dioxine, NPEs or any other harmful chemicals? Hard telling because laundry product manufacturers are not required to list all ingredients on packaging.