Friday, September 21, 2012

Hidden dangers in your home

by Heather Alexander, Solid Waste Specialist

They are there, lurking. Open the cupboard under your bathroom and kitchen sinks. Check the shelves in your laundry room. Look in the garage. Many of the common chemicals we use in our homes are dangerous.  When used as directed, they may be generally safe. However, keep in mind that chemicals can degrade, or change and breakdown over time, becoming more dangerous. When not used as directed, these chemicals can pose significant health risks.

The skull and crossbones is used to indicate the presence of a poisonous chemical. If you see this symbol on a household product, be careful and pay attention to the warning listed on the label.

Many household chemicals should NOT be mixed together. Here are some common products that should NOT be combined:

·         Bleach with Toilet Bowl cleaners:  This mixture can create toxic and deadly fumes.

·         Bleach with Vinegar: Vinegar is a type of acid. When you mix the two, toxic chlorine vapor is produced. Never mix bleach with an acid!

·         Bleach with Ammonia: Toxic, potentially lethal fumes are produced. The main danger comes from chloramine vapors.

·         Different brands of one type of cleaning product: Just because it is used for the same task does not mean the ingredients are the same. Mixing different cleaners together may cause a violent reaction, producing toxins. The mix may also render the ingredients ineffective.

·         Strong alkaline products with strong acidic products: Never mix alkaline (bases) with acids. Acids and alkalis can react violently, presenting a splash hazard. Both acids and alkalis are caustic and may cause chemical burns.

Read the labels of products in your home and follow the instructions for proper use. Many container labels will state the most common dangers from interaction with other products.

For a list of some of the most dangerous household chemicals and their risks, visit www.tricountyrecycle.com, or check out our Facebook page for ongoing tips!

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