Natural Home Cleaning

 

If you’re trying to reduce the level of toxic chemicals in your life, you’ve probably considered “going green” with your cleaning method. The interest in natural cleaning products has grown substantially in the last 20 years and has spawned a competitive industry. As in other “green” areas, a .,bandwagon effect has inspired some conventional companies to bring out lines that. are fragrance free.

 

Basics
A natural cleaning agent is made of organic matter, either from an animal, plant or mineral, as opposed to synthetic agents that are usually based on petroleum. They contain no harmful ingredients such as perchloroethylene and toluene, which are both considered human carcinogens.  Switching to natural products is not just better for the environment, doing so can have real health benefits for you and your family. Planet Green reports that there are 17,000 petrochemicals available as home cleaning supplies, only 30 percent of which have been tested for human and environmental safety.

 

Effects
Vinegar works best for cleaning surfaces and glass, while baking soda will scour tubs, de-grease ovens and lift carpet odors. These ingredients are biodegradable in the sense that their components do not harm the environment when they are incorporated back into the food chain. There is no lingering “fresh” odor, which is important to people with fragrance allergies. Also, they do not produce harmful fumes, chemical burns or nausea from accidental contact, and they do not impact the central nervous system.

 

Home Products
Both vinegar and baking soda work as very versatile green cleaners that can clean almost anything. The main difference between a commercially available natural cleaning product and a homemade cleaning solution is the lack of surfactants. Vinegar works best for cleaning surfaces and glass, while baking soda will scour tubs, de-grease ovens and lift carpet odors. Mix either substance with warm water to make an all-purpose, non-toxic cleaner.

 

In fact, you can mix baking soda, vinegar, borax, washing soda, essential oils and soap to effectively clean and deodorize your entire house. When you have dry cleaning, take it to a “green cleaner” who doesn’t use Perchloroethylene (C2Cl4 and the CAS number is 127-18-4), also called perc. If you do take your clothes to a conventional dry cleaner, air them outdoors before wearing or storing them.

 

Considerantions
Many dish soaps are made with phosphates, which can increase algae growth in our waterways. If you’re worried about your indoor air, don’t use a commercial air filter. Instead, get a broad-leaf green plant to filter the air naturally, and open the windows when you can.  


What Should We Know About Perchloroethylene?

Perchloroethylene(PCE) , also known under its systematic name tetrachloroethylene and many other names, is a chlorocarbon with the formula Cl2C=CCl2. It is a colourless liquid and has a sweet odor detectable by most people at a concentration of 1 part per million (1 ppm).

Uses
The liquid is mostly applied in industries, including appliance, automotive and the aerospace industries. This liquid is useful for vapor degreasing of metal parts during various production stages.

Because of its high boiling point and long cleaning cycle, difficult greases and waxes can be removed by, essentially, being melted. Lightweight parts have longer vapor contact time for more effective cleaning. Also, the high boiling point helps enable more penetration of the liquid in order to clean more thoroughly. Because Perchloroethylene is more stable than other chlorinated solvents, it is easier to use when cleaning parts with moisture entrapped. Perchloroethylene has a low vapor pressure and high vapor density, which results in lower emissions compared to other cleaning choices, such as trichloroethylene.

It has been marketed in an aerosol formulation, particularly for the automotive industry, including brake cleaning. Additionally, Perchloroethylene can be used as a water repellent for clothes, as a spot remover, as a silicone lubricant and as an insulating fluid in some electrical transformers.

Production
Production of tetrachloroethylene was 405 million lbs in 1986. Major releases to air and water are from dry cleaning and industrial metal cleaning or finishing. Water pollution can occur from tetrachloroethylene leaching from vinyl liners in some types of pipelines used for water distribution, and during chlorination water treatment.

From 1987 to 1993, according to EPA’s Toxic Chemical Release Inventory, perchloroethylene releases to land and water totalled over 1 million lbs. These releases were primarily from alkali and chlorine industries which use it to make other chemicals. The largest releases occurred in Louisiana and South Carolina.

Regulation
In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act. This law requires EPA to determine safe levels of chemicals in drinking water which do or may cause health problems. These non-enforceable levels, based solely on possible health risks and exposure, are called Maximum Contaminant Level Goals(MCLG). The MCLG for PCE has been set at zero because EPA believes this level of protection would not cause any of the potential health problems described below.

Eco-friendly Dry Cleaning

Dry cleaning is a staple service used by the average working American. But besides noticing the funny smell of your dress clothes when you pick them up from the cleaners, most Americans don’t know how their clothes are dry cleaned. What many people may not realize is dry cleaning is not dry; it uses smaller amounts of liquid chemicals instead of large amounts of water and a sudsing agent.

Perchloroethylene(PCE, also called as Tetrahydrofuran, a chlorocarbon with the formula Cl2C=CCl2) with a bit of added detergent is used to add moisture to fabrics, helping to remove dirt and suspend it after it has left the fabric. PCE does this without water. It is reusable after being distilled and filtered to remove oils, dirt, dye, and other impurities, so it is a cost-efficient option for operators.

However, globally, governments have supported the development of alternatives to PCE, which the Toxics Use Reduction Institute says is associated with a list of health problems including liver and central nervous system damage. Therefore,environmentally friendly dry cleaning is promoted.

Environmentally-friendly dry cleaning is a type of dry cleaning that avoids the use of components considered harmful to humans and the environment, such as perchloroethylene. Currently, there are several types of green dry cleaning methods that avoid these harmful components. Most dry cleaning services still employ the traditional dry cleaning methods, though, which can make it difficult for the majority of the public to access eco-friendly dry cleaning services.

Most methods of environmentally-friendly dry cleaning replace perc with one of three traditional dry cleaning alternatives. The first method uses a silicone-based solvent, which is considered safe for the earth and humans because it uses natural and abundant resources like silica and sand. The second method involves high-pressure cleaning that utilizes liquid carbon dioxide, which occurs naturally and is considered by experts to be benign. The third eco-friendly dry cleaning method employs a wet washing method of cleaning the clothes. Specialized computer systems control this method to protect garments that aren’t supposed to get wet.

Although most dry cleaners still use perc, environmentally-friendly dry cleaning methods are becoming increasingly popular. This growing popularity is perhaps due to the public’s increasing concern about keeping both the planet and themselves healthy. General consumers aren’t the only ones with concerns, and certain organizations are working to gradually eliminate perchloroethylene-based dry cleaning methods. Of course, plans, including proposed laws, depend on the location. For example, America’s Environmental Protection Agency is requiring dry cleaning services located in residential buildings to phase out cleaning methods involving tetrachloroethylene(CAS:127-18-4), and the state of California proposes to eventually ban perc-based drying cleaning altogether.

Given these facts, environmentally-friendly dry cleaning is a sort of double-edged sword for many consumers. These types of green dry cleaning methods can be healthier for people and the planet. This is because the processes use components that experts consider safe. Until the services are more widely available, some experts suggest alternatives such as do-it-yourself steam cleaning and even avoiding garments that require dry cleaning.

Fast Facts about Tetrachloroethylene in Drinking Water

Tetrachloroethylene is a colorless organic liquid with a mild, chloroform-like odor. The greatest use of tetrachloroethylene is in the textile industry, and as a component of aerosol dry-cleaning products.

It is one of the most important chlorinated solvents worldwide and has been produced commercially since the early 1900s. Most of the tetrachloroethylene produced is used for dry cleaning garments; smaller amounts are used in the production of chlorofluorocarbons and for degreasing metals. About 513 thousand tonnes were used in all applications in western Europe, Japan and the United States in 1990.

This product has been detected in air, water, food and animal and human tissues. The greatest exposure occurs via inhalation, and workers in dry cleaning and degreasing are the most heavily exposed. Individuals living or working in the vicinity of such operations have been shown to be exposed to lower concentrations.

Short-term exposure can cause irritation of the nose and throat and central nervous system (CNS) depression with symptoms such as drowsiness, dizziness, giddiness, headache, nausea, loss of coordination, confusion and unconsciousness. Deaths have occurred following exposure to very high vapour concentrations. It is heavier than air and can accumulate in low lying areas.

Some people who drink water containing tetrachloroethylene well in excess of the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for many years could have problems with their liver and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.

This health effects language is not intended to catalog all possible health effects for the chemical. Rather, it is intended to inform consumers of some of the possible health effects associated with tetrachloroethylene in drinking water when the rule was finalized.

The major source of tetrachloroethylene in drinking water is discharge from factories and dry cleaners. A federal law called the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) requires facilities in certain industries, which manufacture, process, or use significant amounts of toxic chemicals, to report annually on their releases of these chemicals.

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