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How to Make Your Home Healthy and Safe

Build a Safe Home Playground

Make Your Home a Safe Haven for Kids

Avoid Grill Fires, Explosions and CO Poisoning

Dont Let a Burglar Ruin Your Vacation

Is Your Tap Water Safe?

Are Your Cleaning Products Making Your Family Ill?

Localities Crack Down on Homeowners Alarm Calls

Radon Sends Ripples through Water Systems

Are you a Hazardous Waste Case?


Examples of Hazardous Chemicals

Here are examples of familiar commercial cleaning products and the hazardous chemicals they may contain. Some of these chemicals are called volatile organic chemicals [VOCs]. They evaporate quickly into air and are easily inhaled.

  • Air Fresheners. These may contain formaldehyde, a suspected human carcinogen that also causes nausea, headaches, and shortness of breath. Formaldehyde, used in both spray and wick deodorizers, is also a respiratory irritant. [Irritant chemicals cause inflammation of the skin, eyes, mucous membranes, and respiratory system]

  • Bleach. Household bleach contains sodium hypochlorite, which can burn or irritate eyes, skin or the lungs.

  • Disinfectants. These often contain sodium hypochlorite, ammonia or phenols. Ammonia can burn skin and irritate lungs; phenols are flammable and toxic to the respiratory and circulatory system. [Toxic chemicals cause injury or death upon ingestion, absorption, or inhalation]

  • Drain cleaners. These may contain sodium or potassium hydroxide, also known as lye, which burns skin and eyes and may irritate the lungs.

  • Oven cleaners. These also contain sodium or potassium hydroxide.

  • Toilet bowl cleaners. These may contain hydrochloric acid or oxalic acid, which are corrosive and cause burns. These cleaners may also contain toxic chlorinated phenols.

  • Window cleaners. These may contain ammonia, or diethylene glycol which is a central nervous system depressant.

  • Carpet and upholstery shampoo. These may contain perchlorethylene, a known carcinogen that can damage the liver, kidney, and nervous system.

  • Furniture polish. Many of these contain petroleum distillates, which can irritate the lungs and skin.

  • Painting products. Oil and enamel based paints, paint strippers and paint thinners contain volatile organic chemicals such as toluene, benzene, and methylene chloride. Short term exposure can cause skin and respiratory irritation, nausea, or dizziness. Long term exposure can permanently damage organs. Methylene chloride, a known animal carcinogen [and probable human carcinogen] makes up 60-80 percent of a typical organic chemical-based paint stripper.

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