Each year, over 1 million children are accidentally poisoned in their homes. 250,000 of these victims are hospitalized 3,000 children will end up in intensive care. Dozens more will die. Thousands of children and adults are permanently disfigured or injured through contact with chemicals in the home, each year.
Incredibly, the most common substance to poison children is a household cleaner. Many of these products are considered safe! Think of your own home you probably have dozens of bottles of cleaners , containing hundreds of chemicals.
Check off the products you use in your home and evaluate your risks. All information comes from actual manufacturer’s Material Safety Data Sheets and National Poison Control Centers.
__Liquid Bleach – DANGER! – Causes severe eye injuries. Can damage mouth, throat, and stomach. Vapors irritate the nose, throat, and lungs.
__Toilet Bowl Cleaner – DANGER! – Contains hydrochloric acid which is highly corrosive. Burns the skin, mouth, and throat. Causes blindness.
__Furniture Polish – DANGER! – Contact with skin can dissolve vital skin oils and cause severe dermatitis (skin burns). Can permanently injure eyes.
__Stainless Steel Cleaner – DANGER! Can burn the eyes and skin. Vapors can cause headaches, dizziness and stupor.
__Aerosol Dusting Spray – DANGER! Flammable. Irritates the eyes, lungs. 5,000 people visit emergency rooms each year with an aerosol can-related injury.
__Oven Cleaner – DANGER! – Contains lye which is highly corrosive. Burns the skin, mouth, throat, and stomach. Causes permanent blindness.
__Brass, Copper, Silver Polish – WARNING! Can cause moderate eye and skin damage and burns. Fumes can cause headaches, dizziness and stupor.
__ Carpet Shampoo – WARNING! – Can cause moderate to severe burns to eyes and skin. Vapors can irritate the nose, throat and lungs.
__Carpet Stain Remover – WARNING! – Can cause moderate to severe damage to eyes and skin. Vapors can cause respiratory distress.
__Upholstery Stain Remover – WARNING! – Can cause moderate to severe damage to skin and eyes. Ingesting can lead to abdominal tenderness and bleeding.
__ Disinfectant Cleaner – WARNING! – Contains flammable propellants. Can burn skin and cause permanent corneal damage. Fumes can strongly irritate the nose, throat and lungs.
__ Powdered Bleach – WARNING! – Breathing the dust can produce asthma-like symptoms. Damages eyes and skin. Mixing with ammonia can produce deadly fumes.
__ Aerosol Air Freshener – WARNING! – Contains highly flammable propellants. Can cause moderate irritation to the eyes. Can cause mild to moderate lung irritation, including asthma-like symptoms.
__ Window Cleaner – WARNING! – Can cause moderate irritation and damage to eyes. Fumes can be moderately to highly irritating to the lungs. Can irritate the skin.
__ All-Purpose Cleaner – WARNING! – Strong lung irritant. Can cause mild to moderate damage to the eyes. Fumes can cause weakness and dizziness.
__ Basin, Tub, & Tile Cleaner – WARNING! Some are flammable. Contains acids that can burn the skin and cause corneal damage. Vapors can cause strong respiratory irritation.
__ Tile/Hard Water Spot Remover – WARNING! Contains corrosive acids that can cause moderate burns and irritation to skin and eyes. Vapors can be highly irritating to nose, throat, and lungs.
__ Floor Cleaner – WARNING! – Contains corrosive acids that can cause moderate burns and irritation to skin and eyes. Can burn mouth and throat. Can cause blindness.
__ Scouring Powder with Bleach – WARNING! Can cause moderate irritation to skin. Can burn mouth and throat. Can cause permanent eye damage. Gives off irritating fumes when wet.
__ Drain Cleaner – WARNING! – Burns mouth, tongue, throat, and stomach, causing permanent damage. Can cause severe eye damage and blindness.
__ Automatic Dishwashing Liquid – WARNING! Strong skin irritant. Can burn throat. Many products contain bleach which can cause swelling and tearing of eye tissue. Vapors can cause headaches.
__ Automatic Dishwashing Powder – WARNING! Strong eye and skin irritant. Contains corrosive bleach that can burn mouth and throat. Most common reported poison among children.
__ Dishwashing Liquid – CAUTION! – Possible skin irritant. Can cause swelling and tearing of eye tissue. Vapors can cause labored coughing, labored breathing, and in severe cases, death.
__ Liquid Laundry Detergent – WARNING! Strong eye irritant, can cause corneal damage. Can irritate the skin. Vapors can cause coughing, labored breathing, and in severe cases, death.
__ Powdered Laundry Detergent – WARNING! Can burn the skin and eyes, can cause corneal damage. Dust can cause headaches, dizziness, labored breathing, and in severe cases, death.
__ Liquid Fabric Softeners – CAUTION! – Mild eye irritant. Skin irritant. Vapors can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, labored breathing, and in severe cases, death. Can aggravate asthma symptoms.
__ Fabric Softener Sheets – CAUTION! – Possible skin irritant. Can irritate eyes. Vapors can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and in severe cases, death.
__ Powdered Carpet Deodorizer – CAUTION! Contact with skin can produce mild irritation. Contact with eyes can cause abrasive eye damage. Dust can irritate the lungs and aggravate asthma symptoms.
__ Aerosol Deodorant – DANGER! – Contains highly flammable propellants. Vapors can irritate the lungs and eyes.
__ Aerosol Hair Spray – DANGER! – Contains highly flammable propellants. Can cause eye damage due to direct contact. Skin irritant. Vapors can cause headache, dizziness, and fatigue.
__ Mouthwash – CAUTION! – Eye, nose and throat irritant.
Ingestion can lead to dizziness and stupor. Most products contain 20% ethyl alcohol. Each year a number of young children die from ingestion.
__ Cologne/Perfume – Most scents contain enough alcohol to harm and kill a child after ingesting only a few swallows. Many ingredients can irritate the skin and burn the eyes.
__ Cosmetics – Cosmetics are second only to cleaning products as a poison for children. They are not regulated like cleaners and many have no warning labels.
Additional copies of this Toxin Checklist can be ordered by calling RM Barry Publications toll free: 1 (888) 209-0510.
– Nontoxic. This implies that the product will cause no harm to the consumer or environment. However, there is currently no standard definition for the term “nontoxic”, and unless otherwise specified, there is no organization independently verifying the claim.
– Natural. Though widely found on commercial cleaning products, the term “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean much. There’s no standard definition for this claim in industry, so manufacturers can use it as they please. What’s more, just because something is “natural” doesn’t mean it’s less toxic, or non-irritating. Even cleaners that are safe enough to eat, like lemon juice, can be irritating to the eyes or skin.
– Environmentally friendly. While this label implies that the product or packaging has some kind of environmental benefit or that it causes no harm to the environment, there is currently no standard definition for term “Environmentally friendly”. Unless otherwise specified, there is also no organization independently verifying this claim.
– Biodegradable. This term is somewhat meaningful, but it can be misleading. “Biodegradable”, which implies that a product or its packaging will break down in nature in a reasonably short period of time, has been only loosely defined by the federal government.
Here you’ll find out what the labels on your favorite products really mean.
As the popularity of green product claims continues to grow, it’s important to know which claims you can trust and which ones you can’t. Use the website below to get expert evaluation of labels on food, wood, personal care products and household cleaners.