Health & Spirit

The bleach boys

By Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. on

When Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys recorded "409" in 1962 ("My four speed, dual-quad, positraction four-oh-nine"), it referred to Chevrolet's hot-rod, eight-cylinder, 409-cubic-inch engine. Around the same time, the spray cleaner Formula 409 hit the shelves. TV host Art Linkletter and his business partners then purchased it for $30,000, and a few years later, after Linkletter promoted the product in television commercials, they sold it to Clorox for $7 million. Did the Beach Boys -- or should we say "Bleach Boys" -- boost the popularity of the household cleaning agent? Maybe.

These days, they might regret it. A study in the journal Environmental and Occupational Medicine says that frequent use of toxic, bleach-based household cleaning products causes a two-fold increase in the risk for asthma in adults 19 to 24. Another study found that infants born to women who were exposed to these chemicals while pregnant have increased rates of asthma. And another states, "There is increasing evidence on the deleterious role in asthma of the use of household cleaning products in spray forms in adults."

So what should you do if you want to get out a stain or kill mold around the house? There are cleaning products with fewer harsh toxins and volatile organic chemicals. Read the labels! But a good scrub with soap, water and a little vinegar often will do the trick. If you must use harsh cleansers, make sure the area is well-ventilated and that no children or pets are around, and wear protective eyewear and a mask or ventilator.


Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit

(c) 2017 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2017 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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