As someone who has Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), some of the first things I noticed sensitivity to were cleaning chemicals and laundry detergent. I can literally be in a crowd of people and walk past someone who I smell as “toxic”. Either they use a particular brand of laundry detergent, or they use dryer sheets. I can go to someone’s house and tell if they use “toxic laundry detergent”. It is so bad that if I have people to my house sitting on my furniture, I can still smell the toxic laundry detergent on my furniture for many days afterward.
If those chemical smells are so strong and last so long, you have to wonder what it is doing to the person who’s wearing the clothing.
VOCs in Toxic Laundry Detergent and Dryer Sheets
According to Natural Home & Garden, “Researchers have found that dryer vents can emit more than 25 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when scented laundry detergent and dryer sheets are used, including seven VOCs classified as hazardous air pollutants…Also, fabric softeners are designed to stay in clothes and not fully rinse out, which means lingering chemicals come into contact with skin.”
Dr. Mercola has written quite a bit of information on toxic laundry. He says, “most laundry detergents contain a potentially toxic stew of chemicals that can leave residues behind on your clothing… and can be absorbed by your skin or released into the air you breathe.”
Toxins Found in Detergent
Dr. Mercola lists some of the toxins found in typical detergent:
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – Chemical foaming agent known as a surfactant. Studies have linked use of this chemical to a variety of health issues from skin irritation to organ toxicity.
- Dioxane (1,4-dioxane) – The majority of top laundry detergent brands contain this synthetic petrochemical known as a carcinogen. This is a by-product contaminant of the manufacturing process and is not required to be listed on product labels.
- Linear Alky Benzene Sulfonates (LAS) – Synthetic petrochemicals that biodegrade slowly making them an environmental hazard. Benzene may cause cancer in humans and animals.
- Nonylphenol Ethoxylate (NPE) – Petrochemical surfactant banned in the EU and Canada. May cause liver and kidney damage. Biodegradable, but biodegrades into more toxic substances.
- Petroleum distillates (aka napthas) – Derived from synthetic crude oil, linked to cancer, lung and mucous membrane damage.
- Phenols – Can cause toxicity throughout the entire body.
- Optical brighteners – Can be toxic to fish and cause allergic reactions in humans.
- Artificial fragrances – Linked to various toxic effects on fish and mammals, and can cause allergies, skin and eye irritation to humans.
- Phosphates – Used to prevent dirt from settling back into clothes after being washed. Can stimulate growth of marine plants that trigger unbalanced ecosystems.
- Ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA) – Group of compounds used as an alternative to phosphates. Found to cause reproductive and developmental effects in lab animals and does not readily biodegrade.
- Sodium Hypochlorite (household bleach) – Chemical precursor to chlorine, which is extremely toxic. Skin contact can produce caustic irritation or burns. Mixing with other cleaning products can create hazardous fumes.
With the combination of toxic chemicals in laundry detergent causing harm to you and the environment, don’t you think it’s time to reconsider the products that you are using?
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