Environmental impact of cleaning agents
Environmental impacts of cleaning agents are the consequences of chemical compounds in cleaning products. Cleaning agents can be bioactive with consequences ranging from mild to severe. Developmental and endocrine disruptors have been linked to cleaning agents. Green cleaning is an approach to redress or address the problems associated with traditional cleaning agents.
Alkylphenol ethoxylates and alkylphenols
Alkylphenol ethoxylates are widely used nonionic detergents for domestic and industrial use. They are susceptible to microbial or photochemical degradation into alkylphenols: lipophilic, hormone mimicking compounds. Endocrine disruption of alkylphenols was evidenced by research affirming cell proliferation in cells treated with alkylphenols, a response usually generated by oestradiol binding. Further investigation revealed that hormone mimicking alkylphenols affiliate with the oestradiol receptor and averts the proper binding and function of oestradiol. Male trout in alkylphenol contaminated rivers showed reduced testicular growth and synthesized 570,000 times more vitellogenin than did control male trout. The astonishing quantity of vitellogenin, a precursor of lipo- and phosphoproteins that make up egg-yolk protein, in the male trout population from River Lea of England exceeded that of females just before ovulation.
Since the discovery of its adverse effects on an organism’s endocrine system, the United Kingdom phased out the use of APEs as cleaning agents since 2000. To date, there are no regulations regarding the use or removal of APEs.
Environmentally benign alternatives
Green cleaning uses are directly extracted from natural sources and biodegrade into innocuous compounds. Naturally occurring substances that may replace synthetic cleaning products include vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda. For example, lemon juice may be used as a degreaser.
With the aim of decreasing net efficiency, some brands of laundry detergent have been reformulated for use with cold water. By allowing the consumer to use cold water rather than hot, each load cuts back significantly on energy costs.
2-Butoxylethanol, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether (EGBE)
2-Butoxyethanol is a common glycol ether used as a solvent in carpet, hard-surface, glass, and oven cleaners owing to its surfactant properties. It is a relatively cheap, volatile solvent of low toxicity. It has the further advantage of not bioaccumulating.
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