Dangerous Household Chemicals


Dangerous Household Chemicals

Do Your Household Cleaners Have Dangerous Chemicals?

Potentially dangerous chemicals can be found in every room in your home. If not properly stored or used, these products could end up in you or your child’s body or on you or your child’s skin and cause minor to serious and even life-threatening health problems. What are these every day household chemicals? Let’s take a tour of the rooms of your home and discover what some of these chemicals are and what health harms they may cause.

Keep in mind that most household cleaning products and pesticides are reasonably safe when used as directed, and that the level of toxicity of a product is dependent on the dose of the product used (never use more than the amount listed on the label) and the length of exposure to the product.

Product Hazardous Ingredient Possible Effects
In your garage
Antifreeze Ethylene glycol Poisonous if swallowed -- can cause severe damage to heart, kidneys, brain. Inhalation can cause dizziness.
Keep your pets away from spilled antifreeze. Its sweet smell is attractive to animals, but licking or drinking the fluid can kill your pet. Before purchasing antifreeze, look at the label for products containing propylene glycol. This is a much safer alternative.
Motor oil Heavy metals Can cause nerve and kidney damage; is thought to cause cancer
Hydrocarbons Some forms thought to cause cancer.
Batteries (car, boat, tractor) Sulfuric acid Can cause severe skin burns, and blindness
Lead Can cause nerve and kidney damage; is thought to cause cancer
Windshield washer fluid Methanol Can damage the nervous system, liver, kidneys; inhalation can lead to lung disease; ingestion can cause blindness
Ethylene glycol Poisonous if swallowed -- can cause severe damage to heart, kidneys, brain. Inhalation can cause dizziness.
Isopropanol Can irritates mucous membranes; ingestion results in drowsiness, unconsciousness and death
Paint Organic solvents Can irritate eyes and skin; cause cracking of skin. Inhaling paint fumes can result in headaches, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue
In your laundry room/utility room
Laundry detergent Cationic, anionic, or non- ionic solutions If swallowed, cationic detergents can cause nausea, vomiting, shock, convulsions, and coma. Non-ionic detergents can irritate skin and eyes
All-purpose cleaners Ammonia Fumes can irritate eyes and lungs; can cause burns or rashes on skin; can produce deadly chloramine gas if mixed with chlorine containing products
NEVER mix ammonia with chlorine (bleach). This mixture produces a gas that can cause serious breathing problems and be potentially fatal
Ethylene glycol monobutyl acetate Poisonous if swallowed -- can cause severe damage to heart, kidneys, brain. Inhalation can cause dizziness.
Sodium hypochlorite Corrosive to skin and lining of nose mouth and throat; fumes irritating to eyes and respiratory tract
Bleach Sodium hypochlorite solution Corrosive to skin and lining of nose mouth and throat; fumes irritating to eyes and respiratory tract
NEVER mix bleach with other cleaners – especially ammonia – and also toilet bowl cleaners and drain cleaners. A gas can be produced that can cause serious breathing problems and even death
Pet flea and tick treatments Organophosphates and carbamates Can cause headache, dizziness, twitching, nausea; shown to cause cancer in animals
Insecticides Organophosphates and carbamates Can cause headache, dizziness, twitching, nausea; shown to cause cancer in animals
In your kitchen
Dishwashing detergents Cationic, anionic, or non- ionic solutions plus phosphates (automatic dishwasher detergents) Automatic products can cause skin irritation or burns; hand dishwashing products are milder, though can cause irritation to mouth, throat, and GI tract
Oven cleaners Lye (consisting of either sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide) Extremely corrosive, burns skin and eyes; can be fatal if swallowed; aerosols disperse chemicals, increasing inhalation dangers
Non-toxic oven cleaners without lye are available. Look at the label and select a product that does not contain lye.
Antibacterial cleaner Ammonia, Detergents, Lye see descriptions above
Cresol Can be corrosive to tissue; damages liver, kidneys, lungs, pancreas and spleen
Phenol Can cause central nervous system depression; severely affect circulatory system; corrosive to skin; suspected of causing cancer
Pine oil Can irritate eyes and lining of nose mouth and throat
Window and glass cleaner Ammonia Fumes can irritate eyes and lungs; can cause burns or rashes on skin; can produce deadly chloramine gas if mixed with chlorine containing products
isopropanol Can irritates mucous membranes; ingestion results in drowsiness, unconsciousness and death
Insect bait traps Organophosphates and carbamates Can cause headache, dizziness, twitching, nausea; shown to cause cancer in animals
In your bathroom
Toilet bowel cleaners Sodium bisulfate Forms sulfuric acid, which is corrosive, burns skin
Oxalic acid Can damage kidney and liver; irritate eyes and respiratory tract; corrodes mouth and stomach
5-dimethyldantoin Forms hypochlorite in water, which is corrosive to skin and mucous membranes
Hydrochloric acid Fumes are extremely corrosive; burns skin
Phenol Can cause central nervous system depression; severely affect circulatory system; corrosive to skin; suspected of causing cancer
Mold and mildew removers Chlorine and alkyl ammonium chlorides Can cause breathing problems; if swallowed, can burn throat
Drain cleaners Lye and sulfuric acid Can cause burns to skin and in severe cases, blindness if splashed in eye
In your living room
Rug, carpet, upholstery cleaners Perchloroethylene Fumes cause dizziness, sleepiness, nausea, loss of appetite and disorientation; can cause cancer with long-term exposure
Naphthalene Can damage liver; prolonged vapor exposure has led to cataract formation
Furniture polish Ammonia, naphtha, nitrobenzene, petroleum distillates, and phenol Can irritate your skin, eyes, throat, lungs and windpipe; if swallowed, furniture polish can cause nausea and vomiting
Air fresheners Formaldehyde A strong irritant to the eyes, throat, skin and lungs; thought to cause cancer
Petroleum distillates Can irritate skin, eyes, respiratory tract; may cause fatal pulmonary edema; flammable
P-Dichlorobenzene Fumes can be irritating to skin, eyes and throat
Aerosol propellants Fumes associated with brain damage or highly flammable
Household foggers Pyrethrins Can cause severe allergic dermatitis, systemic allergic reactions. Large amounts may cause nausea, vomiting, tinnitus, headache, & other CNS disturbances
Permethrin Can cause itching and burning of the skin and eyes; irritate the upper respiratory tract
Methoprene Can irritate the skin and eyes
In your bedroom
Mothballs Naphthalene, P-Dichlorobenzene Can cause headaches, dizziness, and irritate the skin, eyes, and throat; cataract formation and liver damage can results from prolonged exposure
In the backyard, pool and garden shed
Swimming pool chloride tablets Sodium (or calcium) hypochlorite Corrosive to skin and lining of nose mouth and throat; fumes irritating to eyes and respiratory tract
Insect repellents Butopyronoxyl Can cause mild necrosis in liver and kidney –in animals
Cimethyl phthalate Can cause central nervous system depression if swallowed
Diethyltoluamide (DEET) Can irritate sensitive skin and respiratory tract tissues as well as loss of coordination, anxiety, behavioral changes, and mental confusion
Weed killers diquat, 2,4-D, and glyphosate Can irritate the eyes and skin; can cause abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
Rodent control warfarin Causes internal bleeding if ingested in large amounts