Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

Hazardous-Chemical Releases in the Home

Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

Hazardous-Chemical Releases in the Home

Article excerpt

* The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) established the Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance (HSEES) system in 1990.

* During 1996-2001, 39,766 events were reported to the HSEES system by participating state health departments.

* Of these, 682 events (2 percent) involved releases of hazardous chemicals in private residences.

* Four chemicals frequently released in household events are used for cleaning:

1. hydrochloric acid (used for general cleaning);

2. sodium hypochlorite (household liquid bleach);

3. chlorine (used as a disinfectant); and

4. sulfuric acid (the main component of drain and toilet bowl cleaners).

* Malathion is the active ingredient in mosquito-control products and in other pesticide products.

* Carbon monoxide (CO) is a by-product of incomplete combustion.

* It can enter the home from fuel-burning appliances such as

-- furnaces,

-- water heaters,

-- fireplaces,

-- wood stoves, and

-- space heaters.

* The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends yearly inspections of fuel-burning appliances for leaks and cracks by a qualified technician.

* It also recommends installation of CO detectors in homes.

* There is a need for ongoing education advising the general public to

-- read instructions carefully before using or disposing of a chemical product,

-- store chemicals in secured containers in well-ventilated areas according to instructions,

-- store incompatible materials away from each other,

-- keep flammable materials away from heat sources, and

-- avoid mixing incompatible cleaning products such as bleach with ammonia or chlorine with sulfuric acid. …

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