Lifestyle & Belief

Household cleaners threat to health, UN study says


A new UN report says household chemicals may disrupt hormones leading to health problems.


Jean Francois Monier

Chemicals in household cleaning products are making people sick says a new report by the United Nations.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and World Health Organisation (WHO) said that the chemicals are disrupting hormones, causing serious health risks.

The report showed that "endocrine disrupting chemicals" (EDCs) may pose a real risk to human health but more study is required.

In studies, Reuters reported, EDCs have been linked to birth deformities, hormonal cancers, psychiatric diseases as well as low sperm count, lower female fertility and childhood cancer.

"Close to 800 chemicals are known or suspected to be capable of interfering with hormone receptors, hormone synthesis or hormone conversion," the two agencies said in a report, reported AFP.

"However, only a small fraction of these chemicals have been investigated in tests capable of identifying overt endocrine effects in intact organisms."

People are exposed to these chemicals in various ways.

Medical News Today said the biggest exposure areas were industrial and urban run-off, burning and release of waste and agricultural run-off.

They are also found in food additives, pesticides, electronics, cosmetics and personal hygiene products.

“Research has made great strides in the last ten years showing endocrine disruption to be far more extensive and complicated than realized a decade ago,” said report author Åke Bergman, a professor at Stockholm University, reported Medical News Today.

“As science continues to advance, it is time for both management of endocrine disrupting chemicals and further research on exposure and effects of these chemicals in wildlife and humans.”

The report was presented at UNEP's governing ministers meeting in Nairobi on Friday.