Saturday, May 29, 2010

Do you really want your whites whiter?

I know this has nothing to do with food but it's something that I started thinking about today. Chemicals on our body have potential to enter our body through our skin and other openings, so we're ingesting them (that's why I can include this on my blog).

To the point - I heard recently that way detergent makes your whites whiter and your brights brighter is by adding a fluorescent compound that literally makes your clothes glow. They're not cleaner, it's just an optical illusion. I decide to do some googling to see if it's true. So here's what I found:

First of all, I was not able to find any articles or blogs written on the subject. I found some random websites that mention "Optical brightening agents" were used in detergent to make the clothes appear brighter. Then all I could find was a Wikipedia entry that confirmed that these in fact are used in detergent. I started googling "Optical brightening agent safety" which brought me to a bunch of manufacturer websites which again confirmed these are used in detergent (among other items), and they recommended to view the "safety data sheet" before use. But where were these safety data sheets? Hard to find, but finally I found one. Unfortunately, listed on this data sheet were these side effects:
Hazardous ingredients: OPTICAL BRIGHTENER OB-100 >90%
Skin contact: There may be irritation and redness at the site of contact.
Eye contact: There may be irritation and redness. The eyes may water profusely.
Ingestion: There may be soreness and redness of the mouth and throat.
Inhalation: There may be irritation of the throat with a feeling of tightness in the chest. Exposure may cause coughing or wheezing."

This is a chemical that we are putting on our skin! How are they permitted to do this? Oh ya, and "Environmental precautions: Do not discharge into drains or rivers." Good thing none of the water from our laundry drains into the rivers. I had trouble with linking the PDF file so email me if you would like to see a copy.

We all know about the fragrances and harsh cleaners in cleaning products, but this is just another reason to choose an all natural detergent or to make one yourself.

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