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.
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.
of the symptoms associated with manganese poisoning include:
» Decreased movement
» Decreased arm swing when walking
» 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
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.
can be found in
some of the following products:
» oven cleaners,
» bathroom cleaning products,
» bug spray,
» drain cleaners,
» carpet cleaners,
» household spray paint products and
» home mechanical cleaning products
Household Hazardous Wastes
There are five types of HHW:
Paint Products: Oven Cleaners / Oil-Based
Paint / Toilet Bowl Cleaners / Thinners and Turpentine / Disinfectants
/ Wood Preservatives / Ammonia-based cleaners / Furniture Strippers
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.
* Reduce the amount of HHW you generate by buying less toxic or
* Buy only what you need.
* Read the label carefully, paying special attention to warning
* 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
* Avoid mixing different products and/or mixing different brands
of the same product, as explosive chemical reactions or toxic materials
* 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.
* 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
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
• 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
Any aerosolized particle, including cornstarch, may irritate the
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
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.