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The Dark Side of Bleach + 3 Safe Alternatives that Go Toe-to-Toe
Posted By Kimberly Delaney On April 9, 2009 @ 12:50 pm In Green Living, Healthy Home | 5 Comments
Bleach is one of those household items that has been around for so long no one can remember when we didn’t use it. So it’s often assumed to be non-toxic and even natural. While bleach isn’t the worst toxin you could have in your home, it is an EPA-registered pesticide  that is bad news for the environment and human health — and there’s really no reason you need it around.
This ultimate whitener has a real dark side
The most well-known danger of chlorine bleach comes into play when it’s mixed with ammonia. The toxic brew combines to produce chloramines and chlorine gases that are extremely toxic. But the EPA reports that bleach on its own was responsible for the poisoning of over 25,000 kids in 2000. It can also quite seriously irritate eyes, nose, throats and lungs.
While household bleach is not very concentrated, it still causes environmental damage. When bleach in wastewater comes in contact with organic materials like wood and soil, it can release the known cancer-causing and hormone disrupting chemicals dioxin and furans. It can also produce suspected reproductive toxins called trihalomethanes, a chemical group that includes cancer-causing chloroform.
Seventh Generation  makes the point that if every household reduced its chlorine bleach use by just one 64 oz jug, it would keep 11.6 million pounds of chlorine out of the environment. Given the health and environmental hazard here, that sounds like a pretty good idea.
What you need is a bleach alternative wonder-cleaner
In the average household, bleach is used for many different tasks. This Reader’s Digest  article gives a snapshot of how diverse and alarming these tasks are. The list includes fighting mildew and mold on a variety of surfaces, cleaning cutting boards and countertops (which you will then prepare food on), polishing your glassware (which you will then drink out of), and killing weeds.
You can do all that with nontoxic alternatives including:
Bleach may not be as bad as some of the most toxic cleaners , like certain oven or toilet cleaners on the market, but it is an easy toxin to do without. It’s worth trying these alternatives to reduce your impact on the environment and keep your home both clean and health-safe.
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URL to article: http://blog.gaiam.com/the-dark-side-of-bleach-3-safe-alternatives-that-go-toe-to-toe/
URLs in this post:
 EPA-registered pesticide: http://life.gaiam.com/gaiam/p/Are-Disinfectants-Overkill.html
 Seventh Generation: http://www.gaiam.com/category/eco-home-outdoor/household/seventh-generation.do?SID=WG107SPRTAPEMACS
 Reader’s Digest: http://www.rd.com/advice-and-know-how/extraordinary-uses-for-bleach/article23760.html
 excellent stain remover: http://blog.gaiam.com/blog/the-top-five-kitchen-cupboard-ingredients-for-non-toxic-cleaning/
 homemade, nontoxic, whitening softscrub formula: http://blog.gaiam.com/blog/a-nontoxic-way-to-whiten-sinks-tubs-and-more/
 some of the most toxic cleaners: http://life.gaiam.com/gaiam/p/MopClosetMakeoverGetthechemicalsout.html
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