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Smart Label Reading

Updated on March 27, 2010


When you pick up a product for possible purchase, do you turn it around to find the ingredients? Most folks look at the chart at the top of the food labels, giving percentages of fat, sodium, protein, sugar, etc. Better yet, read the list of actual ingredients. By doing so, you will see what is really inside the package.

When it comes to cleaning products, I would venture to say most people purchase them on the basis of popular brand names. It’s of great importance to read these ingredients as well.

The Toronto Indoor Air Conference conducted a 15-year study. Their findings reported that women who work at home have a 54% higher death rate from cancer than those who work away from home. The study concluded that this was a direct result of the increased exposure to toxic chemicals in the home. A similar report came from the EPA that toxic chemicals in household cleaners affecting indoor air are three times more likely to cause cancer than outdoor air.

Read any good labels lately? With stats like that, it’s very important to consider the products you’re buying to use in your home everyday. For example:

  • Glass cleaners may contain ammonia. Inhaling the fumes can irritate the lungs, skin and eyes.
  • Carpet cleaning products are highly toxic to children. Breathing fumes can cause cancer and liver damage.
  • Oven cleaners are one of the most dangerous cleaning products which can cause severe damage to the eyes, mouth, skin and throat.
  • Chlorine bleach has been linked to behavioral problems in children and reproductive problems in men.
  • Tub and tile cleaners may contain chlorine and contribute to the formation of organochlorines, a dangerous class of compounds that can cause reproductive, endocrine and immune system disorders.


I’ll share just a quick little story. A lady called me and said she had developed a strange respiratory problem over the previous 4 days. She was perfectly fine, then began clearing her throat, and over several days developed a raspy voice and sore chest. She did not have any sign of a cold or flu. I asked her if she had used anything different in her home that corresponded with the time frame. "No, I don’t remember using anything different," she replied.

I asked again, "Are you sure nothing new was used in your home? Did you buy any new aerosol product, spray, air freshener, or the like?"

"Wait a minute!" she exclaimed. I just got a new puppy, and he was scratching a lot. I went to the pet store and got him some anti-itch spray. It was around the same time I started with this throat and chest problem."

I asked her to get the product and read me the ingredients. The first three chemicals were respiratory irritants.

The bottom line is not to contribute to illness in our families due to using products containing toxic chemicals. Look for non-toxic, biodegradable. Cleaner, safer, greener means healthier!


Susanne Morrone

Natural Health Chat


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