(NaturalHealth365) It’s hard to think of a substance more seemingly harmless and wholesome than soap. Yet many of these cleaning products, especially those billed as “antibacterial,” contain a stew of toxic chemicals, allergens and irritants – which may cause physical harm when used long-term.
And laundry detergents and household cleaners can be fatal if ingested – a frightening situation, in light of the fact that these products rank high on the list of substances that are accidentally ingested by small children.
To discover how to minimize the threat from soap products – and learn what to do if they are ingested – keep reading.
Accidental intake and poisonings from cleaning products are widespread
The National Poison Control Center reports that every 15 seconds, a poison exposure is reported in the United States, with the NPCC receiving 2.2 million calls in 2015 alone. Children under 5 years old account for about 47 percent of accidental ingestions
Another sobering statistic: the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 300 children and teens are treated in the emergency room for poisoning every day. Tragically, two children die daily as a result of accidental poisoning.
Cosmetics and personal care products – such as hand and body soaps – are the leading cause of accidental exposures for children under 5, with household cleaning soaps and laundry detergents at number two. Exposure to these can cause severe complications, including brain damage, organ damage, or death of tissues.
Hand and body soaps are less toxic, but can still cause gastrointestinal symptoms that may need to be treated by a medical professional.
For free, immediate advice on soap ingestion, call the NPCC
Experts say that after someone has swallowed a soap product, you should first call the National Poison Control Center (NPCC) at 1-800-222-2222 – but only if the victim is awake and alert. (If the victim has collapsed or seems to be not breathing, call 911. Your first call should also be to 911 if someone has swallowed more than a mouthful of soap product, is displaying symptoms of poisoning, or if you are uncertain as to exactly what has been swallowed).
The symptoms of soap poisoning can include difficulty breathing; swelling of the throat, lips or tongue; chemical burns on the skin; vision loss (if soap has burned the eyes); burns to the throat or esophagus; gastrointestinal symptoms; severe stomach pain and low blood pressure.
For small exposures to known quantities of soap, however, specialists at the NPCC will work with you to determine the best course of action – which could still include calling 911 or proceeding to the nearest emergency room. However, you must be able to tell them the type and amount of soap that has been ingested.
If someone has only consumed a small amount of hand or body soap, experts say they should drink a few sips of water or milk and wait to see if any symptoms appear. However, anyone vomiting, having a seizure, or having difficulty swallowing should not be given any liquids. Call 911 immediately.
Do not encourage vomiting unless you are specifically instructed to do so by a poison control specialist or a medical professional.
Hand and body soaps are minimally poisonous if ingested in small amounts, but the victim may still experience nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. If these symptoms are persistent or severe, the victim should be taken to the emergency room.
Alert: Ingestion of household cleaners and laundry detergents represent a more serious threat
Vividly colored household cleaning soaps and laundry detergents can be mistaken by a curious child for beverages or candy – with tragic consequences.
To be clear: Conventionally-produced soap products that are not intended to clean the body – such as household cleaning chemicals and laundry detergents – are poisonous if consumed. Call 911 at once.
Liquid laundry pods, which contain concentrated amounts of detergent, are particularly dangerous, and can cause vomiting, wheezing, rashes and severe drowsiness. The NPCC notes that a study shows that 76 percent of children had poisoning symptoms after ingestion of pods – as compared to only 27 percent with other laundry detergents.
Medical professionals may treat soap poisoning with oxygen or a breathing tube, administering IV fluids, washing and rinsing of affected areas, giving pain medications, checking the lungs with a bronchoscope and examining the esophagus and stomach with an endoscope.
Most people recover fully from soap poisoning with proper treatment – although recovery depends on the product, the degree of exposure, and how quickly medical help was obtained.
Many commercial soaps are a “toxic cocktail” – so why put them on your skin?
Your skin is the most porous organ of your body – which means that harmful and carcinogenic chemicals in soaps can make their way into your bloodstream, tissues and lymphatic system. Below is a (partial) list of a “rogue’s gallery” of toxins that may be lurking in your bar or bottle of innocent-looking, sweetly-scented soap.
Triclosan, commonly found in antibacterial soaps, is an endocrine disruptor that is linked with birth defects and damage to internal organs. In addition, scientists say it contributes to the ongoing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Sodium laurel sulfate, a foaming agent, is a mainstay of many shampoos, liquid soaps and toothpastes. According to Environmental Working Group – a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment – SLS is a neurotoxin that may even be linked to cancer.
Parabens, used as preservatives in soaps, are hormone disruptors that contribute to the storing of body fat.
Ureas in soaps can cause contact dermatitis, heart irregularities and joint pain.
Synthetic colors and dyes, typically labeled FD and C, or simply D and C, are known carcinogens.
Propylene glycol, found in moisturizing lotions and baby products, is the primary ingredient of antifreeze –and a known carcinogen.
To check out specific soaps for harmful ingredients – and the hazard score for each – you can access EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database at this link.
Of course, using natural, organic, chemical-free products is a better choice.
Soaps, laundry detergents and household cleaners must be securely stored out of reach of children. Put them away immediately after use, and rinse bottles thoroughly before placing them in the trash or recycling. The NPCC advises posting their number (1-800-222-2222) prominently on every landline in your home, and programming it in advance into your cell phone.
And remember: the use of non-toxic, organic, natural soaps and cleaners can go a way towards ensuring your family is safe.
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