The Hidden Cost of Indoor Air Pollution

 by Nuby DeLeon

Studies from the United States and Europe indicate that people living in industrialized nations spend more than 90% of their time indoors with a majority of it spent at work.  In fact, according to the EPA, indoor air pollution is two to five times, and in some cases a hundred times, worse than outdoors.  A big contributor to this problem comes from toxic cleaners being used in enclosed office spaces.  Many of the cleaning products used to clean offices contain chemicals that can cause eye, skin and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, dizziness, breathing problems, cancer, or birth defects.  Poor circulation and insufficient HVAC systems that collect and recirculate the toxic cocktail of evaporated chemical compounds around the office only exacerbate the problems.

Research done by Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, found that U.S. companies could save as much as $200 billion annually in worker performance improvements by creating offices with better indoor air.  Employees are not only a company’s main source of income – they also make up a big part of a company’s operating cost.  When an employee cannot perform their job optimally or calls out sick due to symptoms caused by poor indoor air quality they still need to get paid their salary despite their decreased productivity.  With rising health care costs, the benefits of improving indoor air quality far exceed the cost of making those improvements.  Many business owners and CEO’s do not realize that poor indoor air quality is creating an unnecessary money drain.
The National Institutes of Health Library of Medicine Household Products Database (www.householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov) lists almost any brand of cleaner, what’s in it, and its links to health effects.  The database can be searched by chemical or by product brand.  Some chemical ingredients to look out for are:
•    Sodium Hydroxide – Inhalation is immediately irritating to the respiratory tract.  Contact can cause severe damage to the eyes, skin, mouth and throat.  Can cause liver and kidney damage.  Found in dishwashing liquids, laundry products, oven cleaner, scouring cleansers and tub/tile cleaners.
•    Hydrochloric Acid – Can cause severe damage to skin.  Can be harmful to health, just by breathing fumes.  Can be fatal if swallowed.  Found in odor eliminators and toilet bowl cleaners.
•    Butyl Cellosolve (2-butoxyethanol) – Can cause irritation and tissue damage from inhalation.  Found in All-purpose cleaners, cleaning wipes, degreasers, floor polish, rug shampoos, toilet bowl cleaners, tub & tile cleaners and window cleaners.
Switching to green cleaning products creates a considerable impact on indoor air quality, the planet, health care and operational costs.  A green cleaning pollution calculator can be found at www.ofee.gov/janitor to determine the environmental impact of using “green” janitorial services and products.  According to the EPA, Americans generate 368 million pounds of hazardous waste from cleaning products per year.  We would eliminate over 15 million pounds of toxic chemical cleaners a year if only 10,000 office buildings switched to green cleaning products.  In addition to this, if only 1 out of 4 U.S. households switched to green cleaning products we would eliminate over 7 billion pounds of carbon emissions annually.
For more information about green cleaning products and air purification for your home or office, contact Shaklee Independent Distributor (www.shaklee.net/ktracy), Karen Tracy e-mail: ktracy@cinci.rr.com.

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