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Have you ever wondered what your city’s parks are cleaned with? What would you say or do if you found out that groundskeepers routinely spray a toxic cleaner on the playground equipment that your children play on? Unfortunately, this frightening scenario became a reality for New Yorkers yesterday when the Daily News reported that Goof-Off, a toxic cleaner containing harmful chemicals linked to “birth defects and other reproductive harm”, is being used in a number of parks across the city while children are actually playing on the equipment.
I was particularly appalled to hear about the use of this cleaner around children because, ironically enough, I used Goof-off myself just this past Sunday. The task was to scrub a really tough, sticky residue (a housewarming present left by a previous tenant) off the bottom of my bathtub. So on one of my weekly trips to The Home Depot I set out to find a cleaner to get rid of the gunk that has taunted me for the last 6 months (I’ve been renovating – for a while). Alas, I found Goof-off, “The Ultimate Remover!” right next to Goo Gone on an otherwise empty shelf. You’re probably asking yourself why I bought a toxic cleaner. And there is no good answer other than when I read the warning label (first at the store and then more carefully before I used it) I felt it read no differently than any other professional strength cleaner I’ve come across. I’ve regrettably gotten used to using powerful chemicals to get tough jobs done.
When I went to apply the Goof-Off I followed the ‘safety precautions’ and put on latex gloves, rolled my sleeves down, and protected my eyes and face from the aerosol mist that I began to eject from the can. But within a couple of seconds I held my breath, and, realizing how potent the fumes were, I stopped spraying and immediately left the room. practically gasping for fresh air. Hours later the air was still contaminated and just those few sprays of Goof-off left me feeling light headed. Then I got nauseas and stayed feeling sick for over 24 hours. I couldn’t sleep and I began to question why I chose this cleaner in the first place.
Three days later I heard Goof-off made the news and I’m now both embarrassed that I was so naïve and worried that others will unintentionally follow my footsteps. If I was so quickly affected by this “ultimate cleaner” I can’t even image the impact it would have on the bodies of little kids who unknowingly breathe in the fumes and touch the surface it was just sprayed on. Relying on powerful, chemical-heavy cleaners like Goof-off to do the dirty work is just not worth the possible long-term effects.
Read the story here and see how one parent spoke up and brought much-needed attention to a very serious and potentially harmful situation for our kids.