Open your typical cupboard or cabinet and you'll find a mix of household cleaners -- from bleach to ammonia to mildew remover. The trouble is many people who plan to do a hefty cleaning job think it's OK to mix these chemicals. Even without mixing chemicals, there are environmental dangers lurking in our homes. The fact is they're wrong; in some cases, dead wrong. Despite the warnings displayed in black and white on many bottles, the dangerous mixing of chemicals is not uncommon around the U.S.
In fact, even without mixing chemicals, there are environmental dangers lurking in our homes. The average American household generates 15 pounds of household hazardous waste each year, according to the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC). "Our homes contain an average of three to eight gallons of hazardous materials in kitchens, bathrooms, garages and basements," the government agency reports.
When mixing acids such as toilet bowl cleaners or vinegar, chlorine gas is released. Likewise, the dangerous mix of bleach and ammonia-containing products releases chloramine gas. These gases can range from being irritating to being actually corrosive, where they can actually burn your membranes and damage your lungs. Household products can irritate the muscles of the upper respiratory tract, creating symptoms similar to those of an asthma attack.
Experts recommend the following safe methods of handling household chemicals:
Use the least toxic product you can find.
Read the label and follow the directions.
Wear gloves and protective clothing if product is harmful when in contact with the skin.
Wear goggles if product can harm the eyes.
Do not wear contact lenses when working with solvents.
Stop using the product if you become dizzy, sick to your stomach or develop a headache.
For proper ventilation, it is best to use chemicals outdoors.
Do not smoke when using flammable products.
Never mix household products. Toxic fumes or explosions may result.
See your health care provider immediately if you suspect you have been poisoned or injured due to exposure to a household chemical.
The bottom-line advice is to read warning labels when purchasing household chemicals.
Dr. Mercola's Comment:
Most people are relatively clueless when it comes to the toxic chemicals that are in their homes. They do not regard them as potentially dangerous chemicals. One can generally avoid most of these problems by throwing away all commercial cleaners and replacing them with ones purchased from the health food store or from safe companies like ShakLee.