Green Calgary offers tips and workshops

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Many of the commercial cleaners used in household cleaning contain harsh ingredients. Green Calgary urges Calgarians to think about what cleaning products they use and their effects on health and the environment.

Green Calgary’s Healthy Homes Advisor, Lynn MacCallum explained that it’s important to remove certain cleaners from your home because many products contain health-harming ingredients.

“Products are green-washed to give the impression of them being quite green…in fact there are some questionable ingredients.” MacCallum said.

Produced by Shannon Galley

According to MacCallum, the problem is that Canadian law doesn’t require ingredients to be listed on cleaning products.

She said this means consumers have to do their research. She said there are about 80,000 chemicals on the market and they are not fully tested for long-term effects.

MacCallum advised people to watch out for synthetic fragrances and perfumes because they contain phthalates, which are plastic softeners.

Phthalates are linked to reproductive cancers in men and women and developmental disorders in children. While they’re banned in children’s toys, they still appear in cleaning products.

Personal cleaning products

MacCallum also said triclosan, which is a common ingredient in antibacterial products, is important to look out for because it is a known carcinogen and it can cause reproductive cancers.

1 copy_copy_copy_copy_copy_copy_copy_copy_copy_copy_copy_copyTriclosan is a pesticide that is found in many antibacterial products and some are concerned that it can be harmful to human health. The Government of Canada has found triclosan not harmful to human health but a preliminary assessment has found it could be harmful to the environment.

Photo courtesy of finishing-school/ “Triclosan is in Bath and Body works products and Colgate Total toothpaste…it’s a pesticide, you are essentially brushing your teeth and washing your hands with a pesticide.”

However, a 2012 preliminary assessment of triclosan by the Government of Canada found triclosan not to be harmful to human health, but could be harmful to the environment.

“This preliminary assessment confirms that Canadians can continue to safely use products such as toothpaste, shampoo and soap containing triclosan,” stated Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq in a March 2012 news release.

“The assessment re-affirmed that the guidance we have in place on maximum levels of triclosan in a variety of products help protect human health.”

The assessment concluded that triclosan is safe for human usage but, when washed down drains, tricolsan can affect plants and animals.

Despite the government’s position, MacCallum said it’s important for people to find research and educate themselves on what ingredients are in the products used to clean their homes.

All natural cleaners

Mary-Ann Zulueta is a Calgary mother who tried to avoid using commercial cleaners in her home.1 copy_copy_copy_copy_copy_copy_copy_copy_copy_copy_copy_copy_copyIngredients such as vinegar and Borax can be used in place of commercial cleaners.

Photo by Shannon Galley 

Zulueta started removing these products from her home because her eldest daughter was having allergic reactions and no one could figure out why.

She educated herself on the ingredients in the bathroom and laundry cleaners she used and didn’t like what she found.

Zulueta said cleaning her home with natural cleaning products such as vinegar and baking soda is just as effective as other cleaners.

Green Calgary offers Healthy Homes workshops to educate people on how to live healthily and in a green way.

Recipe for making your own all purpose cleaner from Green Calgary:

1 Tbsp Borax
1/2 cup. liquid castile soap
1/2 cup. white vinegar
4 L hot water
20 drops of essential oil (optional)

Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle for easy use. Works on multiple kitchen and bathroom surfaces, including shower mildew.

Ingredients for this recipe can be found at local supermarkets and health food stores. 


Triclosan is used as a registered pesticide only in a small portion of its overall uses. In commercial, institutional, and industrial equipment uses, triclosan is incorporated in conveyor belts, fire hoses, dye bath vats, or ice-making equipment as an antimicrobial pesticide. Triclosan can be directly applied to commercial HVAC coils, where it prevents microbial growth.

As a material preservative, triclosan is used in many products including adhesives, fabrics, vinyl, plastics (toys, toothbrushes), polyethylene, polyurethane, polypropylene, floor wax emulsions, textiles (footwear, clothing), caulking compounds, sealants, rubber, carpeting, and a wide variety of other products.

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