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Household Chemicals and Toxins

Many of the products we use in our home and around our family contain hazardous ingredients that endanger our health and pollute the environment. These materials are contaminating our home air environment, drinking water, and can cause injures as well as result in debilitating disease.

What Makes A Household Product Hazardous?

Household products are hazardous if they are:

·         Ignitable - capable of burning or causing a fire

·         Corrosive - capable of eating away materials and destroying living tissue when contact occurs

·         Explosive and/or Reactive - can cause an explosion or release poisonous fumes when exposed to air, water or other chemicals

·         Toxic - poisonous, either immediately (acutely toxic) or over a long period of time (chronically toxic)

·         Radioactive - can damage and destroy cells and chromosomal material (known to cause cancer, mutations and fetal harm)

How Do You Know If A Product is Hazardous?

The Federal Hazardous Substances Act of 1960 established labeling requirements for consumer products containing hazardous substances. If a product has a hazardous substance, the front label must include a warning and a description of the hazard.

Levels of hazards are identified this way:

DANGER - extremely flammable, corrosive or highly toxic.

POISON - highly toxic.

WARNING, or CAUTION - moderately or slightly toxic.

What The Label "Doesn't Say!"

Labeling information addresses "acute" or immediate effects only. You are not given information about "chronic" or the long-term hazards of chemical products, such as cancer or birth defects.

Another major concern, is that some products contain ingredients that have not been officially recognized by the federal government as hazardous but still are cause for concern.  "Inert" ingredients are chemicals added as "carriers" for the active ingredients in cleaners and pesticides.  A manufacturer does not have to list the identity of the "inert" ingredient.  Some inert ingredients are hazardous.

Many chemicals have numerous trade names so consumers find it impossible to identify or compare ingredients.  Antidotes listed on the label could be incomplete, out of date, or even wrong.  According to a 1984 report by the National Academy of Sciences less than 2% of all chemicals being used today in household products have been sufficiently tested to determine safe use by humans. 

Consumers are duped today by the term "Non-toxic.  This term is strictly an advertising gimmick as it has no regulatory definition by the federal government.  

Most hazardous household products can be grouped into four major categories:

·         Automotive products which are hazardous include motor oil, brake and transmission fluid, antifreeze and car batteries, gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel, and car wax with solvent.

·         Household cleaners include drain cleaners, oven cleaners, toilet cleaners, spot removers, silver polishes, furniture polishes, cleansers and powdered cleaners, window cleaners, bleach, liquid cleaners, dyes.

·         Paints and solvents include latex, oil-based, auto and model paint, paint stripper, primer, rust remover, turpentine, varnish, wood preservative, mineral spirits, glues.

·         Pesticides

Other hazardous products include: aerosol products, dry cell and disc or button batteries, hearing aid batteries, moth balls and flakes, shoe polish, photographic chemicals, smoke detectors and air fresheners and deodorizers.

Let's take a closer look at hazardous ingredients and their effects on people.

Hazardous Household Products

Product Type 

Possible Ingredients

Potential Hazards

Air fresheners and deodorizers


Toxic; carcinogen; irritant to eyes, nose, throat and skin; may cause nausea, headaches, nose bleeds, dizziness, memory loss, and shortness of breath


Sodium hypochlorite

Corrosive; irritates or burns skin, eyes, respiratory tract; may cause pulmonary edema or vomiting and coma if ingested; contact with other chemicals may cause chlorine fumes


Sodium hypochlorite

Corrosive; irritates or burns skin, eyes; may cause pulmonary edema. or vomiting and coma if ingested



Flammable; very toxic; respiratory, circulatory or cardiac damage



Vapor irritating to eyes, respiratory tract and skin; possible chronic irritation

Drain Cleaner

Sodium or potassium hydroxide (Iye)

Caustic; irritant; inhibits reflexes; burns to skin, poisonous if swallowed due to severe tissue damage


Hydrochloric acid

Corrosive, irritant; damage to kidney, liver and digestive system



Irritant to nose and eyes; central nervous system depression, liver and kidney damage if ingested

Flea Powder


Very toxic; interferes with human nervous system; may cause skin, respiratory system, cardiovascular system damage



Skin irritation; may damage liver, kidney, spleen and central nervous system


Chlordane and other chlorinated hydrocarbons

Very slow biodegradation; accumulates in food chain; may damage eyes, lungs, liver, kidneys and skin

Floor Cleaner/Wax

Diethylene Glycol

Toxic, causes central nervous system depression and kidney, liver lesions


Petroleum Solvents

Highly flammable; associated with skin and lung cancer, irritant to skin, eyes, nose, throat, lungs



Vapor irritation to eyes, respiratory tract and skin; possible chronic irritation

Furniture Polish

Petroleum distillates or Mineral spirits

Highly flammable, moderately toxic, associated with skin and lung cancer, irritant to skin, eyes, nose, throat, lungs, entry into lungs may cause pulmonary edema

Oven Cleaner 

Sodium or potassium hydroxide (Iye)

Caustic; irritant, inhibits reflexes; burns to skin, eyes; poisonous if swallowed due to severe tissue damage

Spot Removers

Perchlorethylene or trichloromethane

Slow decomposition; liver and kidney damage; perchlorethylene is a suspected carcinogen


Ammonium hydroxide

Corrosive; vapor extremely irritable to skin, eyes and respiratory passages; ingestion causes tissue burns


Sodium hypochlorite

Corrosive, irritates skin, eyes, respiratory tract; may cause pulmonary edema and skin burns

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Sodium acid sulfate, oxalate or hypochloric acid

Corrosive; burns from skin contact or inhalation; ingestion may be fatal


Chlorinated phenols

Flammable; very toxic; respiratory, circulatory or cardiac damage

Window Cleaners

Diethylene glycol

Toxic; causes central nervous system depression and degenerative lesions in liver and kidneys



Vapor irritating to eyes; respiratory tract and skin; possible chronic irritation


Written by Diane Gardner

Diane is a mother of 2, grandmother of 4, and the author of and  Diane has been a successful entrepreneur for 20 years developing both off line and online businesses.  She is dedicated to helping women and is a personal success coach.  She has a passion for helping parents with health issues, natural alternatives, toxic awareness and much more.  She is also dedicated to helping women in business and moms who would like to work from home successfully.


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