Nasty chemical of the month: bleach (sodium hypochlorite)


This post first appeared on the ecostore blog.

We sometimes hear that even if people usually normally use eco cleaning products, they might use bleach now and again because of its reputation as a powerful cleaner.

So what is bleach? Its somewhat more tricky name is sodium hypochlorite, a chemical used as a whitening agent. It’s an oxidising bleach, which works by lightening or removing colour.

You won’t find sodium hypochlorite in ecostore cleaners because of the health and environmental concerns associated with it. Among these concerns are the potential for the fumes to irritate skin and eyes, along with the mucous membranes in the nose, throat and respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts.

The Environmental Working Group also raises concerns about sodium hypochlorite’s potential to provoke asthma, to be toxic to our developmental and reproductive systems, and to be a possible carcinogen. Sodium Hypochlorite can also form chlorinated volatile organic compounds, which are greenhouse gases and possible carcinogens.

And when it comes to the health of species and the planet, bleach can be toxic to aquatic life.

Instead of sodium hypochlorite, you’ll see sodium percarbonate on ecostore product labels. It works in a similar way to sodium hypochlorite but it isn’t toxic and it biodegrades without leaving residues that can harm the environment. It’s also suitable for greywater and septic tanks.

Choosing safer cleaners is a good way to keep air quality high in your home, but if you do opt to use bleach occasionally, you can keep the room well ventilated by opening windows and doors.

Read more here about the ingredients we leave out of our products.

More great info and tips from ecostore:


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