Getting Down on Dirty Detergents
The average family washes approximately 80 pounds of laundry per week—or 35 billion loads of laundry per year! This means that 17.5 billion cups of laundry detergent are being used every year in the U.S. alone. Not only can you come in contact with caustic chemicals via your clothing, from having been laundered in them, but you can breathe them into your lungs once they become airborne in the process of doing your laundry.
The detergent you’re using may contain a cocktail of potent cancer-causing chemicals, some of which the manufacturer doesn’t even have to list on the label. This loophole reduces the odds that you’ll ever discover what’s in there.
Four of the worst offenders are:
1. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)/sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
3. NPE (nonylphenol ethoxylate)
Not only are these chemicals potentially damaging to your health, but they are also contaminating waterways and harming the environment.
According to an article in the Journal of Oleo Science, a laundry detergent concentration of only 2 ppm can cause fish to absorb double the amount of chemicals they would ordinarily absorb. The accumulation of these compounds—phosphates and toxic surfactants—in the environment through wastewaters has had a terrible impact on aquatic wildlife. First, let’s take a look at the surfactants, SLS and SES.
Any discussion of SLS/SLES must include a discussion of 1,4 dioxane because the manufacturing process of SLS/SLES results in its being contaminated with 1,4 dioxane—a known carcinogen.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), and Ammonium Laurel Sulfate (ALS)
Sodium lauryl sulfate is a surfactant, detergent and emulsifier used in thousands of industrial cleaners and cosmetic products. It is present in nearly all shampoos, scalp treatments, hair color and bleaching agents, toothpastes, body washes and cleansers, make-up foundations, liquid hand soaps, and laundry detergents.