Certain ingredients in cleaning products and air fresheners can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are a common source of indoor air pollutants and can result in irritation of the eyes, skin and respiratory system and contribute to other health issues long term. Immediate health effects often include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat; headaches; dizziness; and fatigue. Certain chemicals may result in disorders of the nervous and reproductive systems or be associated with cancer and heart disease.
Health effects from indoor air pollutants are sometimes experienced immediately upon exposure but they may possibly only become evident years later. A good resource for more information is the EPA Indoor Air Quality website. The EPA has pointed out that levels of certain pollutants to be two to five times higher inside homes (where people spend 90% of their time) than outside.
In 1999 New Scientist published a report indicating that in homes where aerosol sprays and air fresheners were used frequently, mothers experienced 25 percent more headaches and were 19 percent more likely to suffer from depression, and infants under six months of age had 30 percent more ear infections and 22 percent higher incidence of diarrhea.
Products with fragrances may also trigger asthma and allergic reactions, with symptoms including skin and respiratory irritation, headaches, and watery eyes.
Most conventional dish and laundry detergents and fabric softeners contain a line up of hazardous compounds. Dish and laundry detergents are made from petroleum which is a nonrenewable resource and some contain alkyphenol ethoxylates that don't readily biodegrade. They are thought to disrupt hormone activity and can threaten wildlife after they go down your drain . Ethoxylated alcohols in liquid detergents can also contain cancer causing 1,4-dioxane.
Fragranced detergents and fabric softeners can contain chemicals which have been linked to cancer and reproductive-system harm. Most dish and laundry soaps no longer used phosphates which were known to clog waterways but they can still be found in dishwasher detergents. They are highly caustic and can be fatal if swallowed.
There are other harmful chemicals which when combined can be carcinogenic and harmful to our water resources.
Chlorine bleach commonly found in scouring powders and cleaning solutions is highly caustic. These products travel down our drains in to the environment where they can create organochlorines, which are suspected to be toxic to the reproductive, neurological, and immune systems and are also considered to be carcinogens.
Drain, oven, and toilet-bowl cleaners contain corrosive ingredients. Furniture and metal cleaners can contain nerve-damaging petroleum distillates or formaldehyde, a carcinogen.