Household cleaning products can expose people to many potentially hazardous chemicals, including volatile organic compounds, carcinogens such as chloroform, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as phthalates, cyclosiloxanes, and synthetic fragrances. (1,2,3) In a new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, a team of researchers worked with local youth in Salinas, California, to characterize chemical exposures of Latina women when they used both conventional and "green" household cleaning products. (4)
The Lifting Up Communities with Interventions and Research (LUCIR) study (5) was designed in collaboration with the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS) Youth Council, a group of high school students who work on environmental justice, health literacy, and research projects. Ten Youth Council members, ages 14-19, served as research assistants for the new study. The team recruited 50 Latina women and gave them backpack-mounted personal air quality monitors to wear while cleaning their kitchens and bathrooms.
During the first of two home visits, the participants spent 30 minutes cleaning with conventional products they already used. A week later, they spent 30 minutes cleaning with a selection of "green" products provided by the LUCIR study. The Youth Council members chose national-brand replacement cleaners that marketed themselves as having fewer harmful chemicals, which the teens corroborated by reviewing product labels and consulting consumer databases (such as the Environmental Working Group's Guide to Healthy Cleaning (6)).
The researchers quantified air concentrations for 110 unique semivolatile and volatile organic compounds in personal air samples collected while the women cleaned. The researchers limited their analyses to 40 suspected carcinogens, reproductive toxicants, and endocrine disruptors...