Household Chemical Safety

Household Chemical Safety

Chemicals can be harmful substances no matter if you are home or if you are in a lab.  However, home chemical use can be very dangerous, especially if chemicals are mixed by homeowners, either intentionally or unintentionally.  Thankfully, a little free chemical knowledge can go a long way in homeowner protection.  Let’s look at some household chemical safety.

What Not to Mix

Mixing chemicals can create explosions and noxious gasses, both of which could cause injuries or death.  Therefore, homeowners should know which cleaning supplies and other chemicals to be careful of mixing.  The following list is chemicals that DO NOT mix well:

  • Bleach and acidic toilet bowl cleaners can create a poisonous gas.
  • Bleach and vinegar create a toxic vapor.
  • Bleach mixed with ammonia also create dangerous vapors.
  • Mixing acids with bases create a violent reaction which can cause chemical burns.
  • Mixing different brands of the same type of product can produce reactions.

Harmful Chemicals

Mixing chemicals can definitely be dangerous, however, dangers exist in many household chemicals even without mixing.  The following chemicals are broken down by their dangers:

  • Bleach:  Even without mixing with other chemicals, bleach can be a dangerous substance.  Bleach is a caustic substance:  It can cause skin, eye and respiratory irritations, especially if used in an unventilated area.  Make sure bleach is diluted and used in a ventilated area.  Also, respirators/masks, eye goggles, and gloves may be necessary when cleaning with bleach.
  • Toilet Bowl Cleaners:  These cleaning products can cause skin and eye irritation, kidney and liver damage, and respiratory problems.  When working in an unventilated bathroom, use a mask, and during ventilated use, eye goggles and gloves are recommended.
  • Air fresheners:   Watch for “methoxychlor,” “formaldehyde” and “phenol” in the chemical list.  All of these chemicals can be dangerous to your health, affecting the nervous system, possibly causing cancer, and irritating skin.
  • Chlorine-based dishwashing detergent:  Chlorine can be harmful if swallowed in large amounts, so be sure to store this out of reach.
  • Amonia:  Dangerous to eyes, skin, and respiratory tract, so make sure goggles, gloves, and masks are worn in unventilated areas.
  • Oven cleaner:  Many oven cleaners contain lye and ammonia, and you should always wear gloves and masks when working with oven cleaners.  The cleaners are highly corrosive and can damage the skin if unprotected.  They can also damage the respiratory tract.
  • Furniture polish:  May contain nitrobenzene, a highly toxic chemical that can be absorbed through the skin, so always wear gloves when working with polishes.

Many dangers may lurk in innocent household chemicals.  However, a little chemical knowledge can assist you in using chemical cleaners properly.  Also, cleaners will be labeled with proper cleaning procedures and warnings, so ensuring that you follow the chemical directives will also keep you safe.  When in doubt, wear gloves, goggles and a mask, and never mix cleaning products.

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