Do No Harm: 5 Dangerous Chemicals that Could Be Hurting Your Office

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You trust professional cleaning services to maintain and promote an environment in which your business can flourish — but toxins can lurk within common cleaning products that sap productivity, increase turnover rates, and even affect the health of your employees.

By familiarizing yourself with these dangerous chemicals, you can advocate for your office and effect change with your professional cleaners to assure that you are not putting your employees at risk of sickness or stress. Here is a rundown of what to watch out for, avoid, and possibly even ban from use within your office space:

1. Phthalates
Better known as the fragrances contained with cleaning products to make them smell more pleasing, phthalates can cause significant endocrine reactions that trigger migraines and asthma. When used in soaps and on commonly touched surfaces, they can be directly absorbed through the skin and affect organs with little to no defense.
Better option: Use fragrance-free cleaning products. If the office air needs to be freshened up, consider bringing in more plants to naturally filter out toxins and unwanted smells.

2. Perchloroethylene (PERC)
If you’ve had your carpets or clothing professionally cleaned, you’ll recognize PERC as “that” smell lingering after the cleaning process. This chemical is a confirmed neurotoxin  and potential carcinogen. Symptoms can include dizziness, drowsiness, headache, and loss of coordination.
Better option: Request green carpet cleaners and other alternative cleaning methods including professional wet cleaning and liquid carbon dioxide.

3. 2-Butoxyethanol
This is a common ingredient in multi-purpose and window cleaners. Its slightly sweet smell may be the only way you’d know it was included in a cleaner because companies aren’t required to list it on their labels. The effects of long-term exposure include sore throats, severe liver and kidney damage, narcosis, and pulmonary edema.
Better option: Use natural cleaners with vinegar, essential oils, and baking soda as the active ingredients.

4. Triclosan
Triclosan is an antibacterial agent found in soaps, disinfectant wipes and sprays, and hand sanitizers. It has been linked with increasing numbers of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to an antimicrobial study from the University of Birmingham — making bacteria stronger and harder to fight. It’s also being studied as a possible carcinogen and endocrine disruptor.
Better option: Look for alcohol-based hand sanitizers without triclosan, and choose simple detergents to clean without compromising your immune system.

5. Chlorine
Office bathrooms harbor many germs, but cleaning them with chlorine can be worse. The health risks of chlorine are both acute and chronic — meaning they can occur as a small rash and irritated eyes, or as larger health issues that lead to disrupted thyroid function, irritated skin, and chronic dryness. It’s also present in some city water sources, such as tap water, as an antibacterial agent.
Better option: Try scouring and mildew-removing products that contain vinegar, baking soda, and borax powder. To clean water, install filters on sinks and coffee makers.

At Integrity Services, we make green-friendly cleaning a priority to ensure that all of our cleaning products are safe for our clients, our employees, and the environment.

Your satisfaction is our top priority — and that includes ensuring that our products and services work only to improve your office, not introduce unwanted chemicals. Read more about our efforts in our blog post, “5 Reasons Why You Should Be Using an Environmentally Friendly Cleaner.”

Contact us to get started with Integrity Services today.

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