The term ‘chemical cleaning’ can stir negative connotations and often leads to concerns on the health and safety of end users – but are ‘all-natural’ solutions better, safer alternatives?
‘Chemical’ has come to mean something that is hazardous, unnatural and dangerous to one’s health. But, the exact dictionary definition of a chemical is actually described as ‘A substance with a distinct molecular composition that is produced by or used in a process to produce a change in another substance.’
While a chemical can be created by, and is more commonly associated with artificial processes, chemicals can be produced naturally. For example, simple everyday chemical compounds include water (Oxidane) and salt (Sodium Chloride). In fact, all living creatures and the entire universe are comprised of chemicals.
In comparison, certain natural-occurring chemicals can be very dangerous – For example, organically grown apricots and cherries naturally contain a compound within their stone that creates poisonous cyanide when eaten! Therefore this logic of ‘natural equals safer’ is not necessarily true. It’s important to understand the effect both types of ‘natural’ and ‘chemical’ cleaning may have on the human body or the environment.
With education and awareness around the effects of chemicals on the environment, there has been increasing focus on ‘green cleaning’ products, in which chemicals have been specifically formulated to reduce the impact on the environment and end-users.
While those of us in the chemical industry know where to find the relevant hazardous substance information of a product — such as on a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) — it is much more difficult for the average customer to be able to find, understand, or even access such information.
While there are dangerous and harmful chemicals that exist for particular purposes, with the advent of ‘green cleaning’ there are more choices than ever for customers in safer, environmentally-friendly and lower-risk chemical cleaning. The key is information and understanding of the risks and impacts of such substances, and what is definitively clear is that with the knowledge of the wide range of cleaning products available, the word ‘chemical’ need not be so terrifying after all.