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Household hazardous waste | Hazards of common cleaning products | Common household toxics and the products they're found in | Formaldehyde in the Home | Deadly toxins in our foods

We hope to guide you as how best to protect yourself and learn about the dangers in your environment. There is a dire lack of knowledge, learning and understanding as to how these various chemicals affect environmental illness and sadly no training is available, except often through our own personal exepriences.

By environment we refer to a person's immediate environment whether it be the home or the work place. Chemical exposures to products generally occur either in the work place or at home.

Work Exposures
Depending on your occupation, you could be exposed to numerous, dangerous chemicals in your daily work environment. While businesses are becoming more and more safety conscientious, we have found that many people are exposed to dangerous chemicals without protection.

In the work environment, chemicals that can cause potential problems are found in the following agents: cleaning solvents, dry cleaning solvents, spray paints, paint removers, dyes, fuel such as gasoline and kerosene, degreasers and lubricants.

Another harmful exposure, unique to those who performed or worked around others performing welding, results from the release of manganese contained in welding smoke. Manganese which is found in stainless and carbon steels is also in welding rods. Manganese is a toxin which can cause injury to the parts of the brain that transmit signals to other parts of the body.

These emissions cause what is called manganese poisoning or manganese. Recent studies have also indicated that welders get Parkinson's Disease up to 16 years younger than the general population. Manganese poisoning can occur within as little as 49 days of regular exposure though it usually takes several years before symptoms appear.

Some of the symptoms associated with manganese poisoning include:
» Decreased movement
» Decreased arm swing when walking
» Tremors
» Shakiness/loss of balance
» Stiffness in an extremity - arms or legs
» Slowed or slurred speech
» Decrease in voice volume
» Involuntary muscle contractions
» Decreased facial expression
» Difficulty writing
» Sudden mood changes/depression
» Short term memory loss

Home Exposures
In the home environment there are occassions where individuals are exposed to harmful concentrations of various chemicals. The are no regulations which protect you in your home environment.

Chemicals can be found in
some of the following products:
» oven cleaners,
» bathroom cleaning products,
» pesticides,
» bug spray,
» drain cleaners,
» carpet cleaners,
» household spray paint products and
» home mechanical cleaning products

Household Hazardous Wastes
There are five types of HHW:
Household Cleaners:
Paint Products: Oven Cleaners / Oil-Based Paint / Toilet Bowl Cleaners / Thinners and Turpentine / Disinfectants / Wood Preservatives / Ammonia-based cleaners / Furniture Strippers
Pesticide Products:
Automotive Products:
Miscellaneous: Insecticides /Antifreeze / Photography / Chemicals / Herbicides / Transmission Fluid / Pool Chemicals / Rat and Mice Poisons / Batteries / Mercury Batteries / Flea Collars / Shampoos / Used Oi /l Glues/Adhesives

Change in buying, storage and usage habits may reduce your exposure to household hazardous wastes. The tips listed below are offered as a guide.
Buying Practices:
* Reduce the amount of HHW you generate by buying less toxic or non-toxic alternatives.
* Buy only what you need.
* Read the label carefully, paying special attention to warning labels.
Storage Practices:
* Keep unused products in original containers.
* Never store chemicals in food or beverage containers.
* Preserve labels for directions, disposal suggestions and warnings.
* Store in a cool, dry place.
* Never store household chemicals where small children and pets may reach them.
* Store flammable products outside living quarters and away from ignition sources.
Handling Procedures:
* Avoid mixing different products and/or mixing different brands of the same product, as explosive chemical reactions or toxic materials may result.
* Do not use a "restricted use" pesticide unless you are a trained, certified pesticide applicator.
* Follow directions carefully. Use the amount directed, under the conditions specified, for the purpose listed.
* Do not smoke while working with flammable chemicals.
* Keep away from open flame.
* Provide adequate ventilation.
Protection Devices:
* Wear protective gloves, long sleeves and goggles. Use
chemical cartridge respirators when respiratory protection is
specified. Personal protective clothing is usually available at
home building stores.

Hazards of Common Cleaning Products
Baking Soda Eye irritation, redness, pain, reacts with acids, such as vinegar.
Vinegar Eye irritation, mild skin irritation Reacts with bases (such as baking soda) and oxidizers (substances that easily give off oxygen such as chlorine); corrodes metals.
Ammonia (10%) Severe eye irritation, swelling, burns, and possible blindness; corrosive skin burns and pain; nose and throat irritation, coughing, and chest pain if inhaled; burning pain to mouth, throat and stomach, vomiting, and shock if swallowed, and, if ammonia enters lungs, possible fatal fluid accumulation (only 1 oz. could be fatal if swallowed). Never mix with bleach. Reacts violently with acids and other chemicals; corrodes metals.
Chlorine Bleach Eye burns, blurred vision; skin redness, pain, drying, and cracking; sore throat, coughing, and labored breathing if inhaled; sore throat, vomiting, and burns if swallowed. Reacts with acid or heat; produces chlorine gas; corrodes metals.

Common household toxics and the products they're found in:
• Sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach)
Lung and eye irritant. Household bleach is the most common cleaner accidentally swallowed by children. If mixed with ammonia or acid-based cleaners (including vinegar), releases highly toxic chloramine gas. Short-term exposure to chloramine gas may cause mild asthmatic symptoms or more serious respiratory problems.
• Petroleum distillates (metal polishes)
Short-term exposure can cause temporary eye clouding; longer exposure can damage the nervous system, skin, kidneys, and eyes.
• Ammonia (glass cleaner)
Lung and skin irritant. If mixed with chorine, releases toxic chloramine gas. Short-term exposure to chloramine gas may cause coughing, choking and lung damage. Asthmatics may be particularly vulnerable to asthma and chloramine fumes.
• Phenol and cresol (disinfectants)
Corrosive; can cause diarrhea, fainting, dizziness, and kidney and liver damage.
• Nitrobenzene (furniture and floor polishes)
Can cause shallow breathing, vomiting, and death; associated with cancer and birth defects.
• Formaldehyde (preservative in many household products, glue in particleboard and plywood furniture) Probable human carcinogen. Levels of formaldehyde in air as low as 0.1 ppm (0.1 part formaldehyde per million parts of air) can cause watery eyes, burning sensations in the eyes, nose and throat, stuffy nose, nausea, coughing, chest tightness, wheezing, skin rashes and allergic reactions.
• Perchloroethylene or 1-1-1 trichloroethane solvents (dry cleaning fluid, spot removers and carpet cleaners) Eye, skin and lung irritant. Can cause liver and kidney damage if ingested; perchloroethylene has caused cancer in some laboratory animals and is considered a probable human carcinogen. Can accumulate and persist in human fatty tissues and breast milk.
• Naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene (mothballs, toilet bowl cleaners)
Naphthalene fumes can irritate eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. Chronic exposure to naphthalene can cause damage to liver, kidneys, skin, and the central nervous system. Paradichlorobenzene is a probable carcinogen that can also harm the central nervous system, liver and kidneys. High concentration of fumes may irritate eyes, nose, throat and lungs.
• Hydrochloric acid or sodium acid sulfate (toilet bowl cleaners)
Either can burn the skin or cause vomiting, diarrhea and stomach burns if swallowed; also can cause blindness if inadvertently splashed in the eyes.
• Formaldehyde, phenol, and pentachlorophenol (spray starch)
Any aerosolized particle, including cornstarch, may irritate the lungs.

Formaldehyde in the Home
Formaldehyde is a chemical widely used in many building materials and household products. According to the Environmental Defense Scoreboard it is ranked as one of the most hazardous compounds to ecosystems and human health.
Possible Health Problems
Exposure to formaldehyde affects people differently. Some experience no adverse reactions when exposed to moderate levels, while others do, even after low exposure. This colorless, pungent gas can cause one or more of the following health problems:
• Coughing / Dizziness / Eye irritation or watery eyes / Fatigue / Headaches / Lethargy / Nausea / Nose irritation / Skin rashes / Throat irritation / Upper respiratory tract irritation / Wheezing.
Possible Sources in the Home
Formaldehyde exists in every home to some degree. The concentrations in the home vary depending on the age of the home and the quantity of pressed wood products. Here is a partial listing of products that may contain formaldehyde or formaldehyde releasing agents:-
Adhesives / Air fresheners / Carpet backings / Cigarette smoking / Cosmetics Drapery fabric / Dyes / Fiberboard / Floor polishes / Fuel burning appliances - wood, kerosene or natural gas / Glues / Household liquid scouring cleaners
Household rug and upholstery cleaners / Markers / Paints / Paper products
Particle board - furniture, fixtures, cabinets / Permanent press clothing / Plywood paneling resins / Rug and upholstery cleaners / Scatter rugs and bath mats / Sheet vinyl flooring / Toilet bowl cleaners / Wall coverings
Steps to Reduce Exposure
• Use "exterior-grade" pressed wood products (lower-emitting because they contain phenol resins, not urea resins).
• Use air conditioning and dehumidifier to maintain moderate temperature and reduce humidity levels.
• Increase ventilation, particularly after bringing new sources of formaldehyde into the home.
Other steps include:
• Buy formaldehyde-free products.
• Wash permanent press clothing prior to use.
• Avoid products that contain these formaldehyde releasing agents such as bronopol, diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolindinyl, and quaternium 15.
Deadly toxins in our foods
Leaving aside the organic/non-organic debate, the greater exposure we have to pre-packaged and ready-made meals the more susceptible we are to two particularly dangerous chemicals: monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame, an artificial sweetener. MSG, famed for ‘Chinese Restaurant Syndrome’ is also a flavour enhancer that is added to crisps, packet soups and other processed foods. The effect of MSG in the body has been linked to a large number of diseases such as lupus, cancer, strokes, chronic hepatitis, nervous system infections and neuro-degenerative diseases. 8 Aspartame, an artificial sweetener found in diet drinks and food, soft drinks and sweets has been linked to cancers, headaches, migraines and hyperactivity.


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