PHTHALATES Air fresheners and countless cleaning products that contain "fragrance" contain phthalates. Because of proprietary laws, companies don’t have to disclose what’s in their scents, so you won’t find phthalates on a label. If you see the word “fragrance” on a label, there’s a good chance phthalates are present. Phthalates are known endocrine disruptors.
PERC Perchloroethylene or "PERC" can be found in dry-cleaning solutions, spot removers, and carpet and upholstery cleaners. PERC is a neurotoxin and the EPA classifies it as a "possible carcinogen".
TRICLOSAN Found in most dishwashing detergents and hand soaps labels as "antibacterial". This is an aggressive antibacterial agent that can cause the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.
QUARTERNARY AMMONIUM COMPOUNDS or “QUATS” Found in fabric softener liquids and sheets and most household cleaners labeled “antibacterial.” Quats are another type of antimicrobial, and thus pose the same problem as triclosan by helping breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria. They’re also a skin irritant.
2-BUTOXYETHANOL Found in Window, kitchen, and multipurpose cleaners. 2-butoxyethanol is the key ingredient in many window cleaners and gives them their characteristic sweet smell. It belongs in the category of “glycol ethers,” a set of powerful solvents that don’t mess around. Law does not require 2-butoxyethanol to be listed on a product’s label. According to the EPA’s Web site, in addition to causing sore throats when inhaled, at high levels glycol ethers can also contribute to narcosis, pulmonary edema, and severe liver and kidney damage.
AMMONIA Found in Polishing agents for bathroom fixtures, sinks, and jewelry; also in glass cleaner. The people who will be really affected are those who have asthma, and elderly people with lung issues and breathing problems. It’s almost always inhaled. People who get a lot of ammonia exposure, like housekeepers, will often develop chronic bronchitis and asthma.” Ammonia can also create a poisonous gas if it’s mixed with bleach.
CHLORINE Found in Scouring powders, toilet bowl cleaners, mildew removers, laundry whiteners, household tap water. The health risks from chlorine can be acute, and they can be chronic; it’s a respiratory irritant at an acute level. But the chronic effects are what people don’t realize: It may be a serious thyroid disrupter.”
ALKYLPHENOL ETHOXYLATES A surfactant found in common cleaners. It has been shown in laboratory studies to function as an "endocrine disrupter," causing adverse reproductive effects.
PHOSPHOROUS OR NITROGEN Can contribute to nutrient-loading in water bodies, leading to adverse effects on water quality.
VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS (VOC) Found in cleaning products can affect indoor air quality. Can be worse for those suffering from asthma and/or allergies.