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How do I deal with my anti-chemical ideas and a pro-bleach-and-other-nasties grandma? - Page 2

post #21 of 36
Well, Robert, Bleach is very harmful to the environment. One gallon of bleach can pollute several thousand gallons of water. It kills things (one of its "selling points") but not just germs, helpful things like bugs, algae, fish, etc, etc. It doesn't degrade naturally. It sticks around.

Look here:
http://www.ecos.com/pages/aboutsub/why.html

and here:
http://www.seventhgeneration.com/index.php

I know it may seem like these sites are trying to sell you things, but it's alternative research to Clorox's research. Plus, overuse of bleach & hand sanitizers can actually weaken our immune systems by making super-bugs and limiting our exposure to helpful bacteria.

Not to mention they always show people using bleach products on baby items and then dumping food right on them. And the directions to rinse before using are soooo tiny. Ugh! I hate that, you don't need bleach to disinfect.
post #22 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by MommyErin View Post
Well, when I clean with straight borax and it gets on my hands, it rather stings after awhile. And young children tend to swallow things. Baking soda is one thing but I imagine borax wouldn't be so great on the ol' stomach or intestines. I understand that it's expecially bad on the kidneys. It can also kill insects so I would think it isn't the healthiest thing to have your children "get into".
Well sure, normal precautions would be called for so they don't swallow it -- "get into" in that sense. It is more alkaline than baking soda.

As to the insects, I think you're thinking of boric acid.

Robert
post #23 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by wannabe View Post
Robert, I'm not entirely sure, because I've never looked into it specifically, but I think the concern with chlorine based bleach is that it persists rather than degrading like a peroxide based bleach does. It's best to use something with a lesser environemntal impact - hence why bleaching paper with peroxide bleach is better than with chlorine bleach.
Yes, peroxides do break down faster, but both break down fast, and picking between them on that basis is therefore unwarranted. People who use bleach to chlorinate their backyard pools know it doesn't last long, especially in the sun.

The concern with chlorinating agents has been the formation of chlorocarbon adducts, but not all chlorinating agents do so equally. If you want the most benign in that regard, it's chlorine dioxide, which also has other advantages but is more expensive and unstable so it doesn't last long. However, hypochlorite (as used in ordinary bleach) is still much less prone to producing adducts than is the chlorine gas commonly used in water treatment.

If you have sewers, no amount of bleach you use is going to affect the amount of chlorine-carbon adducts formed in the environment, because the last step in sewage treatment is disinfection with (usually) chlorine. Meaning that what's flushed down the drain is going to be chlorinated anyway, so you're not making the world safer by not using bleach in your home.

If OTOH you have a septic tank, then you should certainly avoid using large amounts of bleach or other disinfectants, because you need to keep alive the bacteria digesting your drainage.

Quote:
Here's the MSDS for borax - it is quite nasty, and the box says so - more warnings than on chlorine bleach
http://www.ilo.org/public/english/pr...5/icsc0567.htm
Sure, but MSDSs can be unnecessarily alarming; I've seen that a lot. Of course you shouldn't eat borax or drink bleach, but swimming pools are commonly dilute bleach solutions, and borax is common in bath salts and hand soap powder and is also used to make cold cream in one common recipe. Stronger bleach solutions are sometimes used to treat skin infections. Borax is comparable to washing soda in alkalinity.

Ranking substances around the house that might endanger a young child or pet, I'd put bleach and borax lower on the danger scale than alcohol. So if you can keep alcohol around safely, you can do similarly with bleach and borax.

Robert
post #24 of 36
Actually, a lot of what "goes down the drain" is not later chlorinated, at least, not until MUCH later. My husband is an environmental scientist, and has spent much time monitoring sewage treatment plants. There are only so many chemicals (around 20 or so) that are filtered for at the plants. And most plants are discharged DIRECTLY into small watersheds (creeks and rivers). Bleach is considered a hazardous substance and should NOT be poured down the drain, especially for disposal.

Water that is brought into your home IS chlorinated, but there is certainly no pipe from the sewer treatment plant to the drinking water treatment plant.

I think a lot of the concern is about eliminating the petrochemicals from your house (which of course, bleach is not, even though it is corrosive) and making your household output and impact less through using biodegradable and natural based products (those made from essential oils & soy). However, it is true that any chemical can be harmful to anyone, especially children. Even something as plain as milk can be harmful to certain people. So, it's all relative, I understand that point. It's just that as Mindful Home Managers trying to live naturally, using bleach represents an unnecessary product that can be unnecessarily harmful.
post #25 of 36
I use the liquid H202 that what 35% and put it into
the toilet over night. WOW talk about a wonderfully clean toilet!!!!

I kinda have to agree with Rebecca on this, just get the house clean with anybody offering to help, then you can keep it clean your way.
post #26 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by momto l&a View Post
I use the liquid H202 that what 35%
What you'd get from the drug store is 3.5%. You can get 35%, but not as a household product; it burns skin almost instantly.
post #27 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by hklinefelter22 View Post
Actually, a lot of what "goes down the drain" is not later chlorinated, at least, not until MUCH later.
Sorry. The places I was familiar with chlorinated before discharge. The practice must not be as universal as I'd thought.
post #28 of 36
35% peroxide is nasty - when it touches your skin it instantly turns it white, and it hurts. I use safety glasses and gloves when handling it. I would not buy it for my home.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Goodman View Post
Sure, but MSDSs can be unnecessarily alarming; I've seen that a lot. Of course you shouldn't eat borax or drink bleach, but swimming pools are commonly dilute bleach solutions, and borax is common in bath salts and hand soap powder and is also used to make cold cream in one common recipe. Stronger bleach solutions are sometimes used to treat skin infections. Borax is comparable to washing soda in alkalinity.

Ranking substances around the house that might endanger a young child or pet, I'd put bleach and borax lower on the danger scale than alcohol. So if you can keep alcohol around safely, you can do similarly with bleach and borax.

Robert
Oh, please. So if swimming pools being dilute bleach solutions makes bleach totally safe at all concentrations, why not go and drink some, then put some in your eyes. I think you're a little full of yourself, you're not the only person here with a higher chemistry degree, you know, it doesn't make you god, just very knowledgeable about whatever your thesis topic was. And if you let your ego blind you to alternate points of view your literature search skills won't do you any good, either. Otherwise, what sort of scientist are you?

I am killing myself laughing - you seriously think that a 50 pound child drinking a mouthful of wine is going to need more medical attention than one drinking a mouthful of chlorox, or borax????? Borax with a LETHAL DOSE of less than 5 grams? That's one teaspoon if you're not up on metric. Or 5 000 000 ug if you're not up on big amounts.

I think you need to read your MSDSs more critically, and have a think about what they're saying. Yes, most of them are to cover people who will get chronic exposure to the chemical, but there are certain key things that should trigger serious caution beyond the normal caution, and teratogenicity is one of those, as is a very small lethal dose. If you read them right you can tell the difference between acetic and hydrofluoric acid. Maybe chat to your health and safety officer one day about it - it's quite an art to decipher them.
post #29 of 36
Thread Starter 
Robert, since I started this thread, I didn't want to completely ignore your original question. To be totally honest, science, chemistry in particular, is not my thing, and it never has been. That's why I have to rely on other people's research to make my decisions in the chemical department. So, you won't see me giving out too much information with any scientific jargon behind it.

Before I even started to really research the dangers of harsh cleaning chemicals (and it goes much further than bleach), I had a gut feeling about their safety. Anything that was not safe enough for my bare hands to touch did not seem safe enough to use in my home regularly, if at all. Thankfully, I found alternatives that work, and the information that I found backed up the way I've felt about it all along.



To answer those who've suggested that I just grin and bear it and be happy to have the help: If that's a situation you would feel comfortable putting yourself in, that's your perogative. Personally, no amount of help is worth putting my family's life in danger, especially that of my unborn child. I would rather clean the whole house by myself than be exposed to those chemicals for an entire day. If you read post #5, you'll see that less than an hour of being in the same room with bleach was especially hard for me.

Thankfully, DH's grandma has been receptive to my feelings about it all, as have been the other women we've gotten on board to help with the cleaning and scrubbing. Everyone is set to help scrub tomorrow, and they are actually eagerly awaiting the results of my "stuff".


Thanks again to everyone for the suggestions and info!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Goodman View Post
Ranking substances around the house that might endanger a young child or pet, I'd put bleach and borax lower on the danger scale than alcohol. So if you can keep alcohol around safely, you can do similarly with bleach and borax.
http://www.aapcc.org/Annual%20Report...0Publsihed.pdf

In 2005, the American Association of poison control ranked cleaning substances as #2 in pediatric exposures; alcohol is all the way down at #17 (pg. 19). To be fair, alcohol exposure had a higher rate of death (pg. 20), but that is just the overall result; they did not break down the death rate by age range (and alcohol was all the way up at #7 for adult exposures).
post #30 of 36
wow, this is a great thread...I thought I knew a lot about natural cleaners, but I have been seriously humbled in my reading here
post #31 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by wannabe View Post
I am killing myself laughing - you seriously think that a 50 pound child drinking a mouthful of wine is going to need more medical attention than one drinking a mouthful of chlorox, or borax?????
Since we were discussing cleaning products and the like, I had in mind rubbing alcohol (typically 70% ethyl or isopropyl) rather than wine!

Quote:
Borax with a LETHAL DOSE of less than 5 grams?
I'd say that's a low estimate considering RTECS data: http://www.skcgulfcoast.com/nioshdbs/rtecs/vz22b6b8.htm

But as a powder, it'd be less likely to be ingested accidentally in significant amounts than would a liquid like rubbing alcohol or bleach. Accidents wherein children mistake such a material for a beverage are far more common than those where they accidentally swallow powders, unless you repackage them in the sugar bowl or the like. Powders are less likely to be swallowed than liquids after they enter the mouth.

Between rubbing alcohol, even ethyl (it's no contest for isopropyl), and bleach solution, I'd take the bleach for accidental swallowing or eye contact. Swallowed bleach's main effects would be on the esophagus and on hemoglobin, but only slowly on the hemoglobin. Vomiting is likely, and because bleach isn't very alkaline, after hitting the stomach it's not likely to cause much damage on the way out thru the esophagus, so vomiting is welcome. Not so with alcohol, because it is likely to produce unconsciousness, and then vomiting will likely lead to aspiration, making the situation worse. A child who accidentally swallowed bleach is likely to come running and screaming, while the one who swallowed that much alcohol is silently passing out without your knowing it -- because if you were close by, the accident would've been very unlikely.

I was on the safety committee at work and was asked to evaluate poisoning scenarios, so sorry if I got a little macabre here.

Robert
post #32 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rikki Jean View Post
Robert, since I started this thread, I didn't want to completely ignore your original question.
Thanks, but my original question wasn't directed at your situation, but at some of the follow-ups. I was asking why someone who doesn't have your sensitivity to the vapor and didn't face a situation of excess such as you did would have an objection to hypochlorite bleach.

Robert
post #33 of 36
So why then are you saying that bleach is safe?
post #34 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by wannabe View Post
So why then are you saying that bleach is safe?
I'm saying, given what I know about it, why do people say it's unsafe?
post #35 of 36
I don't use bleach in my house at all. I stopped what little use I did make of it while I was pregnant and decided to keep my house bleach-free after that.

FWIW, according to this site there is little research on household cleaners and pregnancy. Also according to this site (take it for what it's worth, again), there was a study done that found a correlation between use of strong household chemicals during pregnancy and childhood asthma.

http://www.pregnancy-info.net/risk_f...esticides.html

Also according to natural house maven Annie Berthold-Bond, sodium hypochlorite bonds with other chemicals in the wastewater stream to form organochlorines that may cause cancer and endocrine disruption. (from Better Basics for the Home, page 85). Please know that I'm not a chemist. I fully acknowledge and appreciate that we've, as a society, really benefitted from what chemistry has accomplished. I also think that we've given science and industry the unfettered benefit of the doubt for too long, and our ecosystems (including ourselves) are suffering for it. But I guess that's quite a bit OT.
post #36 of 36
[QUOTE=staceychev;8736321]FWIW, according to this site there is little research on household cleaners and pregnancy. Also according to this site (take it for what it's worth, again), there was a study done that found a correlation between use of strong household chemicals during pregnancy and childhood asthma.

http://www.pregnancy-info.net/risk_f...esticides.html

But that page doesn't say anything specific about bleach. It just lists bleach among a number of very different substances in a bulleted list at the bottom as "cleaners that you may want to avoid or at least approach with caution", without saying why.

Quote:
Also according to natural house maven Annie Berthold-Bond, sodium hypochlorite bonds with other chemicals in the wastewater stream to form organochlorines that may cause cancer and endocrine disruption. (from Better Basics for the Home, page 85). Please know that I'm not a chemist.
OK, please note that I am, but I'll try to keep it simple. I scarcely think that the household use of bleach contributes significantly to any chlorine adduct problem, in that it's such a small volume and scattered use of the material compared to the vastly greater use of chlorinating agents in other applications, particularly pulp bleaching and water treatment. If you don't have your own well and septic tank, chances are that your water comes into your home chlorinated, and after going thru sewage treatment is chlorinated again before discharge, although I understand from someone in this thread that that practice is not universal.

Not only that, but it's not as if you could eliminate hypochlorite from your body or that of other living things. Human white blood cells and fungi produce hypochlorite to use as their own antibacterial agent.

Reminds me of how the demand of the state of Massachusetts to reduce medical formaldehyde discharge to 1 part per million looked when I found out human blood has about 3 parts per million formaldehyde.

Robert
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