Main Ingredient in Antifreeze is Toxic

The main ingredient in antifreeze is a deadly poison if ingested. Photo by Lindsey Turner.

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.

Mishandling gasoline

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

Toxic ignorance

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.


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