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Household Chemical Safety

The average household contains upwards of 25 gallons of toxic materials. Most are probably sitting under your kitchen and bathroom sinks, in your laundry room or are in your garage. The products we use to care and keep up our homes often contain hazardous and toxic chemicals that pose serious health risks if not properly handled. You can avoid negative health effects by inspecting ingredients, following safe usage protocol and storing your products properly.

Prevention:

  • Do not remove products or their labels from their original container or store in different containers.
  • Read the warning labels which detail safe usage, storage recommendations and warnings regarding the product.
  • Always follow manufacturer safety guidelines when using any cleaning or household product, especially those that contain hazardous substances.
  • Buy only as much as you will use.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in your home in both the kitchen and the garage.
  • Do not leave products open or unattended.
  • Keep all cleaning products and products with hazardous chemicals out of the reach of children.
  • Post the number of the emergency medical services and the poison control center in your home. The United States national poison control number is (800) 222-1222.

Know the Meaning of Hazardous Warning Labels

  • Corrosive:  Chemicals that eat or wear away at materials and surfaces.
  • Flammable: Ignites easily.
  • Reactive:  Can cause an explosion or produce deadly vapors.
  • Toxic: Poisonous to humans and animals.

Safe Chemical Use:

  • Clean up chemical spills immediately.
  • Dispose of hazardous materials correctly. Contact your local waste management company if you are uncertain how to dispose of a particular product.
  • Always use good ventilation when using products that contain hazardous chemicals.
  • Do not combine products.  You could cause a chemical reaction between incompatible ingredients that could explode, ignite or release toxins. For example, products that contain ammonia and chlorine bleach when mixed form a highly toxic gas that can cause respiratory damage or death.
  • Wear protective gloves and eye wear when using products that contain hazardous chemicals.
  • Never use flammable products near an open flame. Hairspray, cleaning solutions, pesticides and paint products can emit vapors that you may not be able to see or smell. The vapor particles released into the air by these products could catch fire or explode.
  • Never smoke while using cleaning products or other hazardous chemicals.
  • In the event of a chemical emergency, such as the danger of fire, explosion or release of toxic gas, get out immediately. Stay upwind and from a safe distance call the fire department.
  • Recognize symptoms of toxic poisoning:
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Irritation of the eyes, skin, throat, or respiratory tract
    • Changes in skin color
    • Headache or blurred vision
    • Dizziness
    • Clumsiness or lack of coordination
    • Cramps or diarrhea

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