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Biophile Magazine -- » Top 10 hazardous household chemicals

"This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness." Dalai Lama

Top 10 hazardous household chemicals

by Richard Alexander

FILED IN: Health and Food · Issue 13


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Air fresheners: Most air fresheners interfere with your ability to smell by coating your nasal passages with an oil film, or by releasing a nerve deadening agent. Known toxic chemicals found in an air freshener: Formaldehyde: Highly toxic, known carcinogen. Phenol: When phenol touches your skin it can cause it to swell, burn, peel, and break out in hives. Can cause cold sweats,convulsions, circulatory collapse, coma and even death.


Ammonia: It is a very volatile chemical, it is very damaging to your eyes, respiratory tract and skin.

Bleach: It is a strong corrosive. It will irritate or burn the skin, eyes and respiratory tract. It may cause pulmonary edema or vomiting and coma if ingested. WARNING: never mix bleach with ammonia it may cause fumes which can be DEADLY.

Carpet and Upholstery Shampoo: Most formulas are designed to over power the stain itself, they accomplish the task but not without using highly toxic substances. Some include: Perchlorethylene: Known carcinogen damages liver, kidney and nervous system damage. Ammonium Hydroxide: Corrosive, extremely irritable to eyes, skin and respiratory passages.

Dishwasher Detergents: Most products contain chlorine in a dry form that is highly concentrated.# 1 cause of child poisonings, according to poison control centers.

Drain Cleaner: Most drain cleaners contain lye, hydrochloric acid or trichloroethane. Lye: Caustic, burns skin and eyes, if ingested will damage oesophagus and stomach. Hydrochloric acid: Corrosive, eye and skin irritant, damages kidneys, liver and digestive tract. Trichloroethane: Eye and skin irritant, nervous system depressant; damages liver and kidneys.

Furniture Polish: Petroleum Distillates: Highly flammable, can cause skin and lung cancer. Phenol: (see Air fresheners, Phenol.) Nitrobenzene: Easily absorbed through the skin, extremely toxic.

Mould and Mildew Cleaners: Chemicals contained are: Sodium hypochlorite: Corrosive, irritates or burns skin and eyes, causes fluid in the lungs which can lead to coma or death. Formaldehyde: Highly toxic, known carcinogen. Irritant to eyes, nose, throat, and skin. May cause nausea, headaches, nosebleeds, dizziness, memory loss and shortness of breath.

Oven Cleaner: Sodium Hydroxide (Lye): Caustic, strong irritant, burns to both skin and eyes. Inhibits reflexes, will cause severe tissue damage if swallowed.

Antibacterial Cleaners: may contain: Triclosan: Absorption through the skin can be tied to liver damage.


Laundry Room Products: Sodium or calcium hypocrite: Highly corrosive, irritates or burns skin, eyes or respiratory tract. Linear alkylate sulfonate: Absorbed through the skin. Known liver damaging agent. Sodium Tripolyphosphate: Irritates skin and mucous membranes, causes vomiting. Easily absorbed through the skin from clothes.

Toilet Bowl Cleaners: Hydrochloric acid: Highly corrosive, irritant to both skin and eyes. Damages kidneys and liver. Hypochlorite Bleach: Corrosive, irritates or burns eyes, skin and respiratory tract. May cause pulmonary edema, vomiting or coma if ingested. Contact with other chemicals may cause chlorine fumes which may be fatal.

Other nasty things around your home

Pesticides: Most pesticides have ingredients that affect the nervous system of insects. Dimpylate: Better known as Diazinon, extremely toxic. Impairs the central nervous system. Chlorinate Hydrocarbons: Suspected carcinogen and mutantagen. Accumulates in food and in fatty tissue. Will attack the nervous system. Organophosphates: Toxic and poisonous. If you can smell it, your lungs are absorbing it.

Flea Powders: Carbaryl: Very toxic, causes skin, respiratory and cardiovascular system damage. Chlordane: Accumulates in the food chain, may damage eyes, lungs, liver, kidney and skin. Dichlorophene: Skin irritation: May damage liver, kidney, spleen and central nervous system.

Lice Shampoo: Especially vulnerable are children. Lindane: Inhalation, ingestion, or ABSORPTION through the SKIN causes vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions and circulatory collapse. May cause liver damage, stillbirths, birth defects and cancer.

Car Wash and Polish: Petroleum Distillates: Associated with skin and lung cancer, irritant to skin, eyes, nose and lungs. Entry into the lungs may cause fatal pulmonary edema, most marked Danger, Harmful or Fatal.

Tar and Bug Remover: contains xylene and petroleum distillates.

Warning terms used are significant:

DANGER – Harmful or fatal if swallowed A taste to a teaspoonful taken by mouth could kill an average sized adult.
WARNING – Harmful if swallowed A teaspoonful to an ounce taken by mouth could kill an average sized adult.
CAUTION- Harmful if swallowed An ounce to over a pint taken by mouth could kill an average sized adult

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1 Comment »

  1. A good article - pointing out the dangers. But what are the alternatives? “Green” producs often cost quite a lot and some are not that great either. What other affordable alternatives are there? Quite a few altenatives to regular products were mentioned in the book Bonfire of the Brands. But are there any other good alternatives to branded chemical products?

    Comment by Alan

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