How did poisons become cleaning products?

October 5, 2023

Chemical companies today sell dozens of different chemicals for cleaning.    It hasn’t always been like this. Where did all these chemicals come from in the first place? Although soaps have been used for thousands of years, many of the modern chemicals used today can trace their origins to World War I.

Cleaning chemical history

At the beginning of WWI, France was the first to use ‘poison gas’ on a small scale, quickly followed by Germany.  In April 1915, Germany launched “Operation Disinfection” under the direction of German Chemist Fritz Haber, aka ‘the Father of Chemical Warfare’.  After WWI, Haber discovered the chemicals used as poisons also effectively killed plants and pests.

Haber played a major role in developing poison gases eventually used by Nazi Germany in the extermination camps and created an equation based on the relation between time and chemical exposure for humans known as the Haber Rule.  He said, “Exposure to a low concentration of chemicals over a long period of time often has the same effect (DEATH) as a high concentration of chemicals over a short period of time.”

After WWII, North American companies acquired some of these poisons used in Europe in the first half of the 20th century and renamed them pesticides and herbicides for stateside use. (-cide, to kill)

In the ’60s, the U.S. military commissioned chemical companies to create herbicides (poisons) that would destroy large areas of foliage and food crops in Vietnam, Asia. The most popular was Agent Orange. The U.S. used 13 million gallons of Agent Orange alone (over 236,000 fifty-five-gallon drums), and it continues to be listed on the death certificates of Vietnam War veterans. Fifty years later, Agent Orange remains in their soil. Today, this poisonous residue has harmed over 500,000 children with severe birth defects, and over 2 million people are suffering from cancer or other illnesses caused by Agent Orange. (3)

Cleaning chemical disinfectants must be registered by the EPA as pesticides.

Pesticides are poisons. 

Cancer and heart disease are the two leading causes of death in the U.S. for several decades. One hundred years ago, cancer and heart disease were around but not the leading causes of death like they are today. The food we eat and how it is grown, the kinds of medicine we take, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the products we use to clean, to varying degrees, all have positive or negative effects on human bodies.

We need to clean and disinfect, but do we need chemicals to do it?  What if there are ways to achieve effective cleanliness without using chemicals?

Schedule a call or on-site visit today to learn more about chemical-free cleaning.