Potential Household Product Hazards
Natural Healthy Home Cleaning Tips
Potential Household Product Hazards
This table has been reviewed for accuracy by the Department of Environmental Quality Engineering, Division of Hazardous Waste and the University of Massachusetts, Department of Health and Safety.
Reaction to products may vary depending on length of exposure and concentration of the product and individual sensitivity to certain chemicals.
Exposure to Hazardous Products
Hazardous substances may enter your body in three ways; ingestion, inhalation, and absorption through the skin.
Toxins can be ingested by eating or drinking hazardous substances or contaminated food and water. Ingestion is a major cause of poisoning in children 6 and under. Keep the hazardous products out of the reach of children and in a locked area.
When you are working with potential household product hazards, avoid putting anything in your mouth. Don't eat, don't smoke, don't drink, don't even place things that enter your mouth in the work area. When you're finished remove any contaminated clothing and wash your hands (and other exposed body parts) with soap and water. Then you can put something in your mouth.
Toxins can be inhaled. Gases, vapors, and sprays pass directly through the lungs and enter the blood. That is why good ventilation is essential. When you are working inside, there is real danger of household product hazards. Use a fan to direct air away from the work area to open windows. Air conditioners do not provide sufficient ventilation since they recirculate air, even when set on "vent." Thus they do not remove contaminants. If you can smell a toxic chemical, your ventilation is not sufficient. (although some harmful chemicals have no odor). Use a mask or respirator to protect yourself from household product hazards.
Toxins can be absorbed through the skin. Household product hazards can occur from products containing irritants or corrosives which will injure the skin and then are absorbed. Some hazardous chemicals can be absorbed without causing any damage to the skin. To avoid these household product hazards, wear gloves and/or pretective clothing. Your eyes also are vulnerable to injury. Many hazardous products can cause eye damage if splashed into the eye. Oven cleaners, drain cleaners, and paint thinners are just three examples.
Wear goggles when working with these products. Regular eyeglasses do not provide enough protection. Do not wear contact lenses (especially soft lenses) when working with hazardous products. The lenses absorb the vapors and then hold the irlitant against your eye. Safety goggles are inexpensive and can be purchased at hardware, automotive supply and farm equipment stores.
Selection, Use and Storage Of Hazardous Household Products
Select the right product to avoid household product hazards.
When you go shopping for products, your selection can beyour first step toward minimizing the danger of household product hazards. Follow theseguidelines:
Read the label. Make sure you want the product. Are theingredients safe to use in and around your home?
Make sure the product will do the job you need to havedone.
Buy what has the least household product hazards for the job. Let the signal words (Poison, Danger, Warning, Caution) beyour guide.
Check the label to see if a product has several uses. Then you can avoid buying a different product for each job.
Avoid aerosol products. Aerosol products may contain serious household product hazards, and the fine mist that they produce may be more easily inhaled. Pressurized cans cause problems or explode when they are crushed, punctured or burned.
Make sure you know how to properly dispose of the container.
Remember, the word "non-toxic" is for advertising only. It does not mean the product meets any federal regulations for non-toxicity. The household product hazards may be very real.
Use it safely . . .
It may be impossible to totally eliminate household product hazards in your home. The following guidelines will help you when using hazardous products to keep your home and environment safe.
Read the directions on the label and follow them. Twice as much doesn't mean twice the results, it could mean twice the hazardous chemicals.
Use the product only for the tasks listed on the label. Keep the household product hazards to a minimum.
Wear protective equipment recommended by the manufacturer.
Handle the product carefully to avoid spills and splashing. Close the lid as soon as the product is used. This will control vapors and reduce chances of spills. Secure lids tightly.
Using products in well-ventilated areas can greatly cut down on household chemical fumes. Work outdoors if possible. When working indoors, open windows. Use a fan to circulate the air toward the outside. Take plenty of fresh-air breaks. If you feel dizzy, headachy or nauseous take a break and go outside.
Do not eat, drink or smoke while using hazardous chemicals. Traces of hazardous chemicals can be carried from hand to mouth. Smoking can start a fire if the product is flammable. A very nasty way to find out about the effects of hazardous chemicals.
Do not mix products unless directions indicate that you can safely do so. This can cause explosive or poisonous chemical reactions. Even different brands of the same product may contain incompatible ingredients. These types of hazardous chemicals can seriously harm you.
Use it all up.
If pregnant, avoid toxic chemical exposure as much as possible. Many toxic products have not been tested for their effect on unborn infants.
Avoid wearing soft contact lenses when working with solvents and pesticides. They can absorb vapors and hold the chemical near your eyes.
Carefully and tightly seal products when you have finished. Escaping fumes can be harmful and spills can occur.
Most important of all: Use common sense.
Store it safely in your home . . .
Follow label directions for proper storage conditions.
Leave the product in its original container with original label attached.
Items that can be considered household product hazards should never be stored in food or beverage containers.
Make sure lids and caps are tightly sealed.
Store products with hazardous chemicals on high shelves or in locked cabinets out of reach of children and animals.
Store incompatibles separately. Keep flammables away from corrosives. Items that are safe by themselves can become household product hazards when combined.
Store volatile products—those that warn of vapors and fumes in a well-ventilated area, out of reach of children and pets.
Keep containers dry to prevent corrosion.
Store rags used with flammable products (furniture stripper, paint remover, etc.) in a sealed marked container.
Keep flammable products away from heat, sparks or sources of anything that could ignite them. these are real household product hazards.
Know where flammable materials in your home are located and know how to extinguish them.
An astounding array of hazardous chemicals can be found in many products in and around our homes. They are in common, everyday household products as well as in pesticides. While we cannot eliminate all contact with toxic materials we can minimize the contact.
Make informed decisions about the selection, use and storage of hazardous products.
Remember hazardous chemicals may be: flammable, explosive/reactive, corrosive/caustic, toxic/poisonous or reactive.
Leam to read the labels. Look for the signal words. POISON means highly toxic. DANGER means extremely flammable or corrosive or highly toxic. WARNING or CAUTION means less toxic.
Lastly, use common sense when using and storing hazardous products to decrease the potential health hazards and pollution.
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