Homes serve as safe havens for their residents. When lying on a soft pillow waiting on sleep to come in the evenings, a feeling of calm and being safe is evident when tucked into bed in one’s own room. We expect homes to be clean and free of any harmful chemicals that could cause illness, but are they?
Chemicals can be found in many household items like paints, fuels, and cleaning supplies. These chemicals are harmless unless they are not stored or disposed of properly. Some of the ways that chemicals can cause negative reactions is if they are ingested, fumes are breathed in, or the skin is exposed to the chemical.
The Centers for Disease Control shares this information on chemical exposure and illness:
Some chemicals cause harm, but many do not. People’s bodies respond to chemicals differently. Some people may get sick from an exposure to a chemical while others may not.
The healthier you are, the better your body can protect you. Other factors that play a part in whether you may get sick include
- The type of chemical you were exposed to,
- The amount of a chemical you were exposed to,
- How long the contact lasted,
- How often you came into contact with a chemical,
- How the chemical entered your body
- Your overall health
Examples of items to be wary of include outdated medicines or medications not prescribed to you, household chemicals like beauty products and cleaners, and pesticides. Some tips for proper storage of household cleaners and pesticides include keeping the chemical in its original bottle, not mixing any chemicals as some combinations create noxious fumes, and wear long sleeves, long pants, and shoes when spraying pesticides. It is also recommended to turn on fans and open windows when working with chemicals indoors.
To avoid any chemical contact with children, take to heart the warning label that reads “keep out of reach of children”. Store medicines and household chemicals where children cannot get to them, and do not refer to medicine as a candy, the CDC advises.
The CDC also offers these tips on reducing risk of exposure to chemicals:
You can reduce your contact with chemicals by
- Being aware of chemicals in everyday products
- Being aware of any contamination or pollution around your home or work
- Washing your hands
- Washing fruits and vegetables
- Reading labels that warn you about chemical exposure
- Not burning treated wood
- Following proper disposal guidelines for electronics, batteries, paint, and other chemical-containing products
- Avoiding exposure to cigarette smoke
- Limiting how much high mercury fish you eat and following local fish advisories.
Remember that eating fish low in mercury is part of a healthy diet.
Though some chemicals are necessary in the home, they all have proper storage and disposal procedures to keep the household residents safe, happy, and healthy. For more information about household chemicals, visit the Centers for Disease Control website or this link specifically: https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/poisoning/preventiontips.htm.