Hidden Dangers at Home: Chemicals


There is no place like home! This is all what we think of after a long, tiring day at school or work. Home is where we feel safe and relaxed. Typically, household members would invest time and effort to keep the house comfortable, tidy, clean, and safe. However, there are several hidden dangers at home that may not grab our attention unless we dig them up ourselves. To that end, we dedicate a series of articles to investigate the dangers lurking around the corners of our homes.

Although aerosols—such as pesticides, air fresheners, glass cleaners, and furniture polishers—are user-friendly, they pose serious health risks. The harmful sprayed chemicals quickly find their way into our bodies through two main exposure routes: inhalation and dermal contact. It becomes even worse when aerosols are used in rooms with poor ventilation. The risks include skin rash, eye irritation, blurred vision, headache and nausea. On the long run, recurrent exposure can cause severe lung damage. To protect ourselves, we need to minimize using aerosols and keep the house well-ventilated all the time.

We all enjoy flowery or fruity-smelling products; fragrances are found everywhere at home, from soaps to tissues and candles. However, in most cases, wherever there is a fragrance, there are “phthalates” that can seriously harm us. Phthalates are solvents that make fragrances last longer and help lotions penetrate the skin. Several researches have established links between phthalates and health issues, such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, and hormonal imbalances. So, always try to depend on natural fragrances and avoid using unnecessary scented products.

Everybody wants a sparkling house! The bad news is that most domestic cleaning products* contain very harmful chemicals, such as triclosan, chlorine, and ammonia. Triclosan is found in most liquid dishwashing detergents and hand soaps labeled “antibacterial”. Every time you use these products, the chemical is absorbed into your skin pores and accumulate to dangerous levels. The triclosan weakens the immunity system, disturbs hormones, and causes uncontrolled cell growth.

Furthermore, one can ignorantly mix a bleaching product (contains chlorine) with a cleanser (contains ammonia) for better cleaning results, which would produce a fatal toxic gas. For your safety, always read the products labels and follow the safety instructions. Also, try to minimize inhalation and skin contact as much as you can.

Lead is another notorious chemical substance associated with several health problems. Wall paints, especially in old houses, can be a source of exposure to lead at home. It also winds up in drinking water from old corrosive pipes. So, try to use water filters that are certified to remove lead and replace them when needed.

Last but not least, batteries are a potential source of chemical hazards. Battery leakage can expose us to very harmful chemicals, such as potassium hydroxide or sulphuric acid. In case of leakage, never touch the contents with your bare hands. We need to regularly check the batteries used in our devices, and to keep unused batteries out of children reach.



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SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
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