your home is full of potentially hazardous or toxic materials which may cause serious harm to you or your family if misused. The following are the most common and probably the most dangerous things found in the home, but this is by no means an extensive list.
Probably every house in America has some form of bleach in their laundry room cupboard. It is extremely toxic if swallowed, and the fumes from it can irritate the eyes, nose, and mouth. If it is mixed with other cleaners (particularly those which are ammonia based), chlorine gas can be produced. This can cause serious long-term breathing problems, and can even lead to death¹.
Although mercury is one of the most toxic substances around, you and your loved ones are probably exposed to it every day in one form or another. Do you have a thermometer hanging on the wall somewhere in your house? If yes, then make sure you don’t break it! There is a high chance that it contains mercury which will be released as a toxic, invisible gas upon breakage. The other common exposure to mercury in the home comes from skin lighteners and anti-aging products which are sold illegally in the USA and many other countries. If you have these, or even think that you might, then don’t use them! Mercury exposure is not worth it².
Oven cleaners will be present in most households at one time or another. If they contain lye (whose active ingredient is either sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide), then they are extremely corrosive. They will burn your skin, harm the eyes and respiratory tract, and can be fatal if swallowed. Non-toxic oven cleaners are available, and are a good idea if you have small children or pets around your kitchen¹!
Again, these are present in a lot of homes, especially older ones or those with badly designed drainage systems. The poison ingredient is again sodium hydroxide based lye, which is extremely harmful if it comes into contact with skin or other body parts (see above). If you or anyone else ingests lye then call for emergency assistance immediately³.
Most household sheds or laundry rooms will contain some form of weed killer which is extremely harmful if swallowed. The most common of these is glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s famous Roundup chemical. Glyphosate causes a range of short and long term health problems, including stomach cramps, breathing trouble, diarrhea, dizziness, headaches, low blood pressure, and in extreme cases, vomiting blood or falling into a coma. If glyphosate poisoning is suspected, then seek medical help immediately⁴.
Until the 1990’s lead based paint was used widely throughout the world. However, it is now known to cause major developmental and health problems, especially for babies and young children. If you have an old house with peeling or disintegrating paint, then consider getting expert advice as you may be exposed to toxic lead vapors⁵.
These are found in all sorts of everyday products, including mattresses, upholstery, clothes, televisions, and computers. They contain polybrominated diphenyl ethers which are known to cause a range of mental and sexual health defects. Some studies have also indicated that they could be highly carcinogenic, but there is not sufficient proof to support this theory yet⁵.
Probably every household has some form of pesticide stored away somewhere, whether as rat poison, moth balls, or something in between. Pesticides are designed to kill living things. People are living creatures who are extremely sensitive to a range of chemicals. Therefore it follows (without even looking at the plethora of scientific evidence available) that pesticides are toxic to humans! If you do use some form of pesticide then make sure you follow the instructions closely. Store them away from children and pets, and don’t use them in areas frequented by kids⁵.
Greentumble was founded in the summer of 2015 by us, Sara and Ovi. We are a couple of environmentalists who seek inspiration for life in simple values based on our love for nature. Our goal is to inspire people to change their attitudes and behaviors toward a more sustainable life. Read more about our story here.