You use lots of chemicals in your house every day. Some of these chemicals, such as vinegar, talcum powder and baking soda, are not dangerous. But there are a few chemicals commonly used in the home that can cause immediate life-threatening danger to you and your family if you use them improperly.
Here are the 5 most deadly mistakes you can make when using toxic chemicals at home:
Mixing bleach and ammonia
Bleach and ammonia are both effective for cleaning. But if these two products are mixed together, it immediately produces a highly toxic and reactive chlorine gas that will injure or kill anyone who breathes it. The chlorine gas reacts with any moisture, including the moisture present in the mucous membranes in your eyes, nose, sinuses, and lungs. Contact with this toxic chlorine gas turns the water in your membranes into hypochlorous acid. According to the US Center for Disease Control, breathing concentrated chlorine gas can cause death in a few minutes.
Number two of my top five killers is mishandling gasoline, mainly due to it’s highly flammable properties. I am amazed at how many people ignore warnings while pumping gas. All of these are a potential cause of a deadly explosion when pumping gas: leaving the car running, getting in and out of the vehicle, using a cell phone, filling a fuel can while the can is inside the trunk of the car or in the back of a truck. Static electricity can create a spark that can ignite fuel vapors. I have also seen people spill gas on their skin and not bother to wash it off. In addition to the flammability and explosion hazards, gasoline contains benzene, a chemical that quickly diffuses through your skin and directly into your bloodstream. In addition to its known immediate health effects of drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, headaches, tremors, confusion, and unconsciousness, benzene is also known to be a carcinogen.
Swallowing automotive antifreeze
While most adults know antifreeze is poisonous, children and pets are completely unaware of the dangers of this brightly colored, sweet smelling liquid. Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, which is highly toxic if swallowed and not treated right away. According to the CDC,when ethylene glycol breaks down in the body, it forms chemicals that crystallize, and the crystals can collect in your kidneys and affect kidney function. It also forms acidic chemicals in the body, which can change the body’s acid/base balance and affect your nervous system, lungs, and heart.
Improper use of pesticides
The fourth most toxic killer in your home is misapplied pesticides or applying pesticides without proper personal protection. There are several ways to misapply pesticides, and I have seen many. It amazes me how many people buy a concentrated pesticide meant to be mixed with lots of water (up to 100 parts water to one part pesticide), and they apply the undiluted concentrate to get rid of the pests. This is very dangerous because the concentrate is much more toxic than the diluted product, and the concentrate will often cause pollution where it is applied because it is too strong. It is also a waste of money, since you can only cover a very small area with the concentrate. Also, homeowners often don’t use the proper protective gloves, clothing, goggles, or breathing protection when mixing or applying the pesticides. The other common misapplication is using a pesticide prescribed for outdoor use inside and vice versa. Read and follow the directions on the product label of all types of pesticides before using them to avoid these dangers
The fifth killer in my top five list is “toxic ignorance.” This is a term I have coined for the common trap we all fall into when buying household cleaners. Many of the cleaning products available for sale are much more toxic than other “green products” that we can buy or make ourselves. In my e-book, Taming the Toxic Menace in Your Home, I offer suggested alternative household products and recipes for making safer cleaning products at home. In addition to being safer, most of these alternative products and recipes are cheaper than the commercial cleaners and are just as effective. To learn more, go to my ebook page to read about the book. You can also visit the link to the Amazon website, where you can download a sample.
You can read Kindle books on all of the various Kindle devices, on any tablet or smart phone that supports the Kindle reading app, and also on your computer using Amazon’s Kindle cloud reader. You can also download a sample of the book for free in you’re not sure whether you want to buy it or not.
Buy Taming the Toxic Menace in Your Home in Kindle format by clicking the link.
In the fairy tale, the evil witch offers the beautiful shiny red apple to our heroine. She is attracted to its seemingly wholesome beauty and she takes a bite. But we know that the apple is poison. In real life, sometimes poisons are disguised so we don’t recognize them for what they are: toxins that can harm you and make you sick, even if they don’t actually kill you.
Are there Dangerous Chemicals in Your Home that are putting you at Unnecessary Risk?
In the book Silent Spring, the author, Rachel Carson, was concerned about the unbridled use of very highly toxic pesticides by industries to control pests. Today, on this 50th anniversary of the publishing of Silent Spring in 1962, I am much more concerned about the application and misapplication of pesticides by homeowners to themselves and their own property.
Back in the early 60s, the long-term health effects of exposure to many pesticides were unknown. Now we know this to cause long-term health problems. This short-sighted approach has caused many chronic diseases we are now experiencing, like many types of cancer, liver and kidney diseases.
The Most Dangerous Toxin in the Home
The most dangerous toxin for one person may not be the same for another person. For instance, if you are a smoker, the toxins in cigarette smoke are a much greater danger to you than other chemicals you may come in contact with. If you live in an area where the drinking water is polluted, this is also a big concern for you personally. I believe the best way to approach this problem is to minimize your exposure to toxins by using less toxic chemicals for cleaning, pest control, and other household work. Using the recipes and alternative cleaners in my e-book is a great start.
In my e-book, Taming the Toxic Menace in Your Home, I list and describe hundreds of toxic chemicals in our homes, explain their known health effects, and list alternative chemicals that are less toxic and often less expensive.
The Most Dangerous Toxin on the Planet
So what household chemical is the most dangerous menace for our planet in general? Well, that’s just a small part of what you’ll learn if you read my ebook, which is all about how to identify and remove harmful chemicals and poisons from your home. It is now available at a very reasonable introductory price of $4.95 in Kindle format. Visit the ebook page to find a link to it on Amazon.com.
- Gasoline – It is very flammable, and the fumes can cause dizziness, inability to breathe, damage to your lungs, and exposure may result in a coma. Gasoline contains many toxic compounds, but two of the greatest concerns are benzene and toluene. Benzene can quickly diffuse straight through your skin into your blood stream, and is a known carcinogen. Toluene is also a carcinogen. The main reason gasoline made the top spot is that gasoline is very flammable and its fumes are explosive with the right air/gas mixture.
- Drain cleaners – very powerful chemicals containing lye, or hydrochloric acid or sulfuric acid. The fumes are dangerous and will cause irritation of your eyes, nose and throat if breathed. If you get any of these cleaners in your eyes, they can cause permanent damage, including blindness.
- Antifreeze for automobiles contains ethylene glycol, a sweet smelling chemical that is very poisonous when swallowed. It can cause severe damage to your heart, kidneys and brain. Swallowing it can also cause death.
- Oven cleaners usually are made from lye, which is either sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide, both of which are very corrosive. The product labels warn that these chemicals will burn your skin or eyes if contacted, and they can cause death if swallowed.
- Mineral and rust removers – very corrosive, some containing up to 30 percent phosphoric acid. Use nitrile gloves while handling these products, and if you get any chemicals on your skin or in your eyes, wash immediately with large quantities of water. These chemicals can cause permanent damage if they get on your skin or in your eyes, so they need to be washed off immediately. If swallowed, they can cause serious permanent internal chemical burns.
- Mold and mildew cleaners are made from chlorine and alkyl ammonium chlorides. They contain pesticides known as fungicides. These cleaners are very caustic (corrosive) and will irritate your skin. Wash them off immediately if you get them in your eyes or on your skin. These cleaners will burn your throat and lungs and cause breathing problems if swallowed.
- Toilet cleaners – very powerful chemicals with nasty health consequences if breathed, touched or swallowed. They are almost always a mixture containing bleach (sodium hypochlorite) or hydrochloric acid. The fumes can cause eye and skin irritation and burning in your throat. To prevent skin burn when touching the chemicals use protective gloves. These chemicals are poisonous if swallowed.
- Aerosol anti-bacterial cleaners contain a pesticide to kill bacteria and some kinds of virus, a propellant such as propane or ethanol, and a surfactant to penetrate and break up the dirt and other materials on the surface. The propellant makes this product highly flammable if sprayed near a flame or a spark. Fumes from these cleaners can cause irritation to the eyes, nose and throat. If spray gets in the eyes, wash it out immediately.
- Chlorine Bleach is made from a mixture of sodium hypochlorite and water. It is very irritating to your skin, eyes, nose and throat, and if you get it on your skin, you should wash it off immediately. If chlorine bleach is swallowed,it can be poisonous.
- A deadly combination – Never mix bleach with ammonia. A poison (chlorine) gas will result, which is highly corrosive and toxic. This gas reacts with moisture in your eyes, lungs, and even your skin, and can kill you.
Try the alternatives listed in my e-book, Taming the Toxic Menace in Your Home, to make your home safer, especially if you have young children or pets.
Did you ever get harassed and/or bitten by a deer fly or a horse fly?
The deer flies are house fly-sized pests with striped wings love to hide in tall grass, then fly around your head and neck until they see an opening, and give you a painful bite, sometimes more than once. Horse flies are much larger (two to three times bigger than a deer fly) and their bite is much more painful.
I found out that both deer flies and horse flies are very effectively repelled by dryer sheets (that’s right – dryer sheets!)
The brand is not important, because they can’t seem to stand the smell of the perfume in the sheets. I have tried three brands (Bounce, Downy and one generic brand), and they are all effective. You have the option to rub the sheet on your skin, and or place the sheet in a hat with the sheet hanging down your neck.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, dryer sheets also have a more limited effect on mosquitoes, gnats and black flies, but can still provide some relief.
The materials on the dryer sheets are harmless unless you are allergic to the perfume, and dryer sheets are much less toxic than insect repellant containing DEET.
Read more about safer, more natural ways to handle pests, clean your home, and maintain your yard in other posts here on my website or in my ebook.
As a fun way to introduce my ebook, Taming the Toxic Menace in Your Home, we are running a contest here on the blog and at my Facebook page.
Here’s how it works:
The contest runs for 1 week, from now through the end of the day on Saturday, May 5th. After the contest period is over, we will randomly pick 10 winners from those who enter. Each winner will get a free copy of my new ebook, Taming the Toxic Menace in Your Home.
Here’s how to enter:
- Leave a comment on this post, below. Make sure to include your real email address because that’s what we’ll use to send you the link to download the ebook (your email address won’t be visible to visitors of the blog).
- Visit my Facebook page and “Like” it by clicking on the “Like” button.
- If you do both you get 2 chances to win.
You can get an extra chance to win if you share a link to this post on Facebook or Twitter and then come back to this post and tell us in the comments that you did that. On Twitter, use hash tag #ToxicMenaceContest and on Facebook, just make sure you share from the same Facebook account that you used to “Like” us and include at least your first name in the comment.
Good luck to all who enter!
(Note: to reduce spam comments, your first comment here needs to be approved before it becomes visible. So if you’ve never commented here before you won’t see the comment immediately, but don’t worry, we’ll approve it and it will show up soon after you post it.)
Did you know that wild turkeys have a poor sense of smell? This is in contrast to their highly accurate sense of sight and hearing.
Unfortunately, the lack of ability to smell can cause wild turkeys to eat those very smelly granular pesticides placed on the lawns of homes and businesses, causing them to get sick and sometimes die. It is believed they mistake these pellets for food or for the small stones they need for digestion.
Make Your Treated Lawn Turkey-Safe
If you use granular pesticides on your lawn or someone does it for you, make sure to dissolve these granules by watering your lawn soon after the pellets are applied. Also, please make sure any pellets that are accidentally spread on roads or sidewalks are swept or blown back onto the lawn and watered in.
Learn More About Chemical Safety
If you are concerned about the safety of chemicals you use in and around your home, and the effect those chemicals have on the environment and the humans and animals that live there, you can learn more in my new ebook. Taming the Toxic Menace in Your Home contains information on the chemicals that may be in the various rooms in your home, whether they are pesticides, household cleaning products, personal care products or used for some other purpose. It tells you what the risk is and offers safer alternatives to these chemicals. Click here to learn more.
Click here to go to the ebook page to read more and to purchase the book.
As Earth Day quickly approaches (April 22, 2012), it is time for all of us to think about the way we treat the planet.
We all know ways to prevent pollution, like recycling and reusing, but are we really diligent about reversing pollution and its effects?
My focus today is on the household cleaners and other chemicals we use every day. Many of the commercial cleaners are toxic, but we use them out of habit or convenience. Some of them are highly toxic, and can cause serious health problems if they are inhaled, spilled or swallowed. They can also harm the environment if they are improperly used or disposed of.
I am releasing an e-book called Taming the Toxic Menace in Your Home in the next few days. This book identifies those toxic cleaners and chemicals, explains why they are dangerous, and suggests safer alternative cleaners and chemicals. The alternatives will reduce health risks to you and your family, and help reduce pollution of the planet.
We may need to trust our government to regulate pollution by businesses, but we can certainly control the pollution that comes from our own homes.
Come back to this website as Earth Day approaches to learn more about my soon-to-be-published ebook, Taming the Toxic Menace in Your Home.
It’s time for Spring Cleaning, and a huge opportunity for everyone to get the clutter out of their homes and garages. It is also a great chance to start cleaning your home with safer, less toxic cleaning products.
My soon-to-be-published e-book, Taming the Toxic Menace in Your Home, gives instructions on which items might be toxic to you or your family and pets. It tells you how to safely identify, handle and dispose of household toxins that are throughout your home. You can learn about the toxins in the cleaning products you are now using. The book tells why these toxins are unhealthy for you and your family, and provides safer alternative cleaning products that are often less expensive than the products you currently use.
Let’s look at one example of a household cleaner that can be very toxic: Drain Cleaners. Were you aware that commercial drain cleaners are very toxic, containing very caustic chemicals? These chemicals can burn your flesh, irritate your eyes and other mucous membranes, and are poisonous if swallowed? Did you know that these same chemicals are strictly regulated at chemical manufacturing plants? Chemical workers must wear protective gloves, clothing, and respiratory protection while handling the exact same chemical found in drain cleaners sold for household use. Taming the Toxic Menace in Your Home tells you how to unclog and clean your drains using warm water, safer chemicals and water jets or other mechanical methods.
It is important to know how to safely dispose of the toxins you use, so the book give you critical information on how to safely handle these toxins, and places that will accept them from households.
While you are cleaning your house, you are doing your part to clean up the planet.
Watch this website for information on how to purchase my ebook, which will be published on Earth Day, April 22, 2012.
Home Safety Help is Here
As a professional engineer, I'm here to help you make your home safe by identifying potentially dangerous chemicals and other substances and getting rid of them. I'll also suggest alternative products, often called "green" products, that are safer and work just as well. Feel free to tell your friends about this site. Leave a comment telling me what you think, or ask a question.
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