What Is Ammonia And How Does It Impact Me?

Empty chemistry bottles against blue background

Written by: Syed Naqvi, Head of Product Development + Innovation @Blueland

Ammonia is a common ingredient in household and commercial cleaners. Ammonia is a very strong chemical that can be corrosive. It’s used to disinfect household and commercial surfaces. It’s a powerful chemical, but the strength of the chemical comes with some negative health risks you should be aware of. We will give you the facts on ammonia and explain why at Blueland, we keep ammonia out of our cleaning products. 

What Is Ammonia?

In its natural state, ammonia is a gas with a strong odor. Ammonia is primarily used in fertilizer, but it is also used in cleaning products in the form of ammonia hydroxide. Ammonia hydroxide is gaseous ammonia dissolved in water. In household cleaners, cleaners containing ammonia are usually made from 5-10% ammonia. Commercial cleaners can have up to 25% ammonia in cleaning solutions. Ammonia is a fast-drying chemical and is especially common in glass and mirror cleaners. Though ammonia is found in a lot of traditional cleaning products, it does have some serious health risks associated with it.

How Can Ammonia Impact Me?

Ammonia is known to cause irritation to the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tract. Ammonia exposure can come from inhaling or touching ammonia. It is very easy to come into contact with ammonia when you are using it to clean your surfaces. If you touch your eyes or spill the cleaner or inhale the cleaner in a closed room, you are at risk for irritations. If ammonia is ingested, it can cause more serious harm. Swallowing ammonia can cause burns inside the mouth and throat. Exposure to high concentrations of ammonia can cause burns, so when you are cleaning with ammonia you have to be especially careful.

If you choose to clean with ammonia, it is recommended that you only clean in a well-ventilated area to reduce the risk of you inhaling concentrated amounts of the chemical. You should also be careful to avoid touching your skin, eyes or mouth while you are cleaning, so that you don’t further irritate your eyes or accidentally ingest some of the chemical. When cleaning with ammonia you have to be very careful not to cross-contaminate your ammonia solutions with other cleaning solutions. Chemical reactions between ammonia and other chemicals can cause the chemicals to form toxic gasses. For example, if ammonia is mixed with chlorine bleach it will create toxic chloramine vapor.

Environmental Impacts Of Ammonia

Ammonia does not just cause negative effects to human health. It can be toxic to our environment as well. When cleaning solutions containing ammonia are washed down the drain, they can find their way into our waterways. Ammonia can be very toxic to our aquatic life, so we should avoid washing ammonia down the drain whenever possible. When Ammonia gas is released into the air, it can also cause harm to our environment. Gaseous ammonia can pollute our air and harm vegetation.

Blueland’s Ammonia-Free Products

We’ve received the Platinum Material Health Certificate from the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute for our 3 cleaning sprays, hand soap, powder dish soap, dishwasher tablets, and laundry tablets; the USDA BioPreferred certification for our 3 cleaning sprays, powder dish soap, dishwasher tablets, and laundry tablets; EPA Safer Choice certification for our 3 cleaning sprays and dishwasher tablets; Leaping Bunny (cruelty free) certification for all of our products; and our dishwasher tablets are the first and currently, the only dishwasher detergent that is EWG verified.

We only source ingredients that are gluten-free, vegan and cruelty free. And we only used ingredients on the EPA Safer Chemical Ingredients List and none of the ingredients on the EWG Unacceptable List or the Prop 65 Banned Ingredients List.

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