For an eco-conscious lifestyle, it’s not difficult to clean up your act

first_img 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! We know we’re supposed to steer clear of cigarettes, trans fats and artificial everything. But who would have thought a squeaky-clean home could be bad for you, too? “Whatever you use on your floors goes into your skin and into the pads of your pets’ paws as well,” said Lisa Hall, founder of Green Clean, a Los Angeles-based cleaning operation that calls itself “the conscious cleaning service.” “If you want to have a healthy home,” she said, “cleaning products are the first and easiest step to take.” Hall’s plethora of eco-conscious clients rely on Green Clean to keep their homes spiffy with products that claim to be nontoxic, cruelty-free, pet-friendly, environmentally friendly and biodegradable. Whereas most cleaning companies use petroleum-based products or harsh chemicals such as chlorine bleach, Green Clean uses an assortment of plant- and enzyme-based products blended with lavender, citrus oils, water and vinegar. Hall said these ingredients are less irritating for people with environmentally induced asthma or allergies. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, many common household cleaners contain volatile organic compounds (also found in paint strippers and pesticides), which are emitted as gases and can have short- and long-term adverse health effects ranging from nose and throat irritation to liver and kidney damage. “I think it’s a matter of not knowing. A lot of people are, like, ‘What does it mean to go green?’ A lot of people are at different stages,” said Hall, who ran a Los Angeles mobile spa before starting Green Clean about a year ago. By the looks of it, it’s easy going green. Whereas once nontoxic products were only found in health food stores, new eco-friendly brands including Second Nature and Seventh Generation are now sold at major chains such as Target and Wal-Mart. But as more and more people jump on the go-green bandwagon, some scientists are saying “not so fast.” According to William W. Nazaroff, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, products labeled all-natural or nontoxic are no panacea for the potential adverse health effects of indoor cleaning fumes. “There are plenty of bad things that are produced by plants,” he said, explaining that terpenes, substances extracted from pine and citrus to create pleasant aromas in household cleaners, create formaldehyde when mixed with ozone. Ozone seeps into homes from outside air. “I don’t want to sound like an alarmist about this stuff,” he said. “I want to achieve a certain sense of balance and perspective, and that might require people to be more fearful than they are right now. But I hope in the end people have better understanding and insight to make better decisions.” Those decisions, he said, might not have as much to do with the choice of cleaning products as with the proper use of them (though he acknowledged that choosing biodegradable products was better for the environment). Rinsing surfaces with water after cleaning, for instance, can remove any potentially toxic residue. “It’s important that any cleaning product be used according to directions,” said Glenn Williams, a spokesman for Procter & Gamble. “Even products claiming to be natural might have hazards if they are used improperly.” last_img