A home is a place of warmth, safety and security. We don’t associate it with dangerous and poisonous items. But don’t be fooled, there are several dangers you may not be aware of in the form of household items. Household products, some of us may be aware of what they contain, but most of us don’t know the effects of their long-term use. Despite what the label says, there may be hidden dangers that you may not know about. So make sure that you do your research well and are aware of what they contain and what their shelf life is before they become hazardous. Below are the 10 most common household items we use that could be dangerous for the home.
1. Cleaning Agents for Appliances
Cleaning agents for appliances are strong, corrosive and meant to remove stubborn dirt and grime. As such they contain corrosive alkalis that over a period of time can have irreversible damage to the skin, the stomach and respiratory system if ingested or inhaled. It is wise to switch to natural cleaning agents such as lime and baking soda or keep cleaning with soap and warm water regularly.
2. Air Freshener
Air fresheners spray scents and chemicals directly into the air and are inhaled gradually over a period of time. Depending on the product, chemicals can affect hormones and cause breathing problems in children. Instead of chemical-based air fresheners, an easy and quick way to remove bad odours would be to dip cotton balls in essential oils and place them around the house. They lift the mood and make the home smell good.
3. Non-Stick Cookware
Non-stick cookware is something that many households cannot live without. While its convenient to not have your food stick to the utensils, continuous use over years can be bad for health. The coating that makes these utensils not stick – polytetrafluoroethylene – leaches gases when heated and research done over recent years has linked this to cancer and other ailments.
4. Toilet Cleaner
Toilet bowl cleaners have to be corrosive because of their ability to remove grime and sanitize the bowl. It is also this very property that makes such cleaners hazardous and causes burns to skin and eyes. They are also dangerous if mixed with other cleaners.
5. Furniture Polish
Oil-based polishes and stains are very dangerous because they are inflammable and contain nitrobenzene that gets absorbed by the skin causing cancer. Stains are generally applied on furniture and inhaling them continuously, has been found to have adverse effects on the nervous system.
6. Soaps and Shampoos
Because soaps and shampoos are used daily and come in contact with the body, it is good to read through the ingredients before using them. Those with triclosan and trichloro carbon, especially the anti-bacterial soaps are known to cause resistance to bacteria over time according to the FDA.
Mothballs have naphthalene and research has suggested they are dangerous to the body, including causing skin irritation and other ailments. It would be wise to ensure they don’t come in contact with skin and are never kept within reach of children.
8. Extension Cords
Extension cords are one of the most abused items in the home. Most people don’t realise that there is a particular voltage capacity these cords can take and load quite a bit onto it, connecting all kinds of gadgets and appliances. Worn our cords, unbranded boxes and placing them near carpets and furniture can make them even more hazardous.
9. Flaking Paints and Wallpapers
Lead-based paints peeling off and leaching chemicals is a reality and even though today’s paints are safer, there is a possibility of lead poisoning from being in a recently painted room without ventilation. It is important to keep windows and doors open at all times when the rooms are painted.
10. Flame Retardants
Chemicals in sofa, furnishing and upholstery that supposedly prevent them from flaming up, are equally dangerous. These retardants are particularly concentrated in old carpets and sofas.
Besides the common ones stated above, there are several other items around the home that can harm health over time. It is therefore important to be aware and know what you buy for the home, read through labels and ensure they are all handled with adequate precautions such as gloves and face masks wherever necessary.