LysolMany common products have them. Your office has them. Your car has them. Even your home has them. When it comes to chemicals that negatively impact your health — otherwise known as toxins — their omnipresence is downright frightening. According to op-ed New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff, “Your body is probably home to a chemical called bisphenol A, or BPA. It’s a synthetic estrogen that United States factories now use in everything from plastics to epoxies — to the tune of six pounds per American per year.” Not worried yet? Then read his next frightening fact. “More than 92 percent of Americans have BPA in their urine, and scientists have linked it — though not conclusively — to everything from breast cancer to obesity, from attention deficit disorder to genital abnormalities in boys and girls alike.” With such horrendous statistics looming near us constantly, it’s about time we fight back and take control of our own health! How better to do this than with toxins. The irony is that while manufactured chemicals like BPA represent how hazardous our contemporary lifestyles can be, there is another, better known chemical compound that helps keep much of America safe. I’m even willing to bet you have some in your pantry right now. Lysol brand disinfectant is the go-to spray, wipe or wash that many of us grab when something is gooey, sticky, icky or downright gross. While Lysol products aren’t able to stop our absorption of other man-made chemical compounds like BPA, the company website does offer a bounty of information on the many uses and many products within their brand. This chemical compound is used to kill unwanted living buggies like fungus, germs, viruses and bacteria. The main ingredient in the Lysol products is benzalkonium chloride, which is highly toxic to fish and other aquatic life, mildly toxic to birds and only slightly toxic — passing as safe — to mammals. Because of this “slight toxicity,” my curiosity led me to read through all of the fine print on my household can of Lysol disinfectant spray. Typically, I utilize the spray like this: I wipe counters and other surfaces clean of any loose food debris. Then, I spray heavily with the handy-dandy Lysol. I scrub the stuck-on food debris until it comes off. Lastly, I let it all air dry. Not surprisingly, Lysol has a better understanding of how to properly apply the chemicals. The website suggests handling the spray as follows:

To disinfect:

  • For pre-cleaned surfaces: Spray two to three seconds until covered with mist. Allow to stand for 10 minutes to air dry.
  • For hard, non-porous food-contact surfaces: Spray until covered with mist, let stand for 10 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.

To sanitize:

  • Spray until covered with mist, let stand for 30 seconds.

To control and prevent mold and mildew and their odors:

  • Spray pre-cleaned surface until covered with mist.
  • Repeat application if necessary.

To deodorize:

  • Spray on surface as needed.
It seems that my approach of wipe, spray, scrub and let dry was mostly correct; but in the areas where food is handled, a thorough washing is necessary as well. This makes sense, since Lysol is, after all, a poisonous chemical that kills various viruses (including H1N1) and other bad stuff that can make people very ill. Oh, and getting back to that pesky business with the BPA, it seems that the best tactic is to avoid its consumption in the first place. In the article, Kristoff suggests steering clear of plastic containers that contain BPA, such as the ones we microwave or store our food in or drink water out of. Avoid these items and you’ve already dramatically reduced your exposure to BPA.