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Clean and Green

Household Hazards

Moms and babies are often exposed to chemicals from cleaning products, resulting in more asthma and reproductive problems, says the environmental health group Women's Voices for the Earth in its "Household Hazards" report. Women receive more exposure than men because they typically do more than 70 percent of the housework, and the more time they spend at home, the greater their exposure to dangerous solvents, polishes, surfactants and disinfectants, according to the report. Babies are vulnerable, not only because of their undeveloped immune systems, but because they crawl on the floor and put their hands in their mouth, ingesting chemicals from floor and carpet finishes and cleaners. Toxic ingredients are often not listed on cleaning product labels, say the report's authors. They advise using fewer cleaning products, buying only those that disclose all their ingredients, and never mixing products. Even better, make your own from safe, old-fashioned baking soda, borax and vinegar. For a link to the report and its tips for safer cleaning, visit Women and Environment.