Mitzi Parker: What hazards are bringing into your home?

Published 6:00 pm Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Do you know what is in the products you purchase to clean, maintain and care for your home? Products you use in your home may be ignitable, corrosive, explosive or toxic. As a consumer you should make it a habit to read the label before you purchase a product. Under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act of 1960, if a product contains a hazardous substance, then the front label must include a warning and description of the hazard.
Look for the caution words.
DANGER: Substances which are extremely flammable, corrosive or highly toxic.
POISON: Substances which are highly toxic.
WARNING or CAUTION: Substances which are moderately or slightly toxic.
A hazardous substance can enter your body in three ways: (1) ingestion, (2) inhalation, and (3) absorption through the skin. A major cause of poisoning in children age six and under is the ingestion of hazardous substances. To reduce poisoning risks in your home, I’ve listed some good guidelines to follow.
• When shopping, read the label, looking for the signal words:  danger, poison, warning, caution. Select the least hazardous product for the job.
• Avoid buying aerosol products since they may contain hazardous or toxic propellants and the fine mist produced can be easily inhaled. Also, pressurized cans can explode when crushed, punctured or burned.
• “Non-toxic” is used for advertising only. It does not mean a product meets any federal regulations for non-toxicity.
• Before using a product, read the directions on the label. Using twice as much does not mean twice the cleaning power, but it may mean twice the risk.
• Use products in well ventilated areas.
• Do not eat, smoke or drink when working with hazardous products. Traces of hazardous chemical can be transmitted from hand to mouth. It is important to wash your hands before eating, smoking or drinking.
• Do not mix products.
• Leave hazardous products in the original container and store in a locked cabinet or out of reach of children and pets.
• Store flammable products away from corrosive products.
• Store volatile products (those with vapor and fume warnings) in a well-ventilated area.
Use common sense when purchasing, using and storing hazardous household products. If you or someone in your home inhales poisonous fumes, make sure they get into the fresh air as soon as possible. If ingested, call 911 or your local emergency number.

Mitzi Parker is Sumter County Extension agent/Family and Consumer Sciences. Contact her at 229-924-4476.