Household Products can Harm You or the Environment

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Household Products Can Harm You

You may have products in your home that can make a poisonous gas if mixed with other products, cause blindness if swallowed, or eat away skin and eyes.

How can you identify these harmful products? Read the label. Products may be:


Safer ProductsCan cause short or long-term illness. Pesticides, paint thinners, many automotive products and some cleaners are toxic. The label could say:

  • Harmful or fatal if swallowed.
  • Use only in a well-ventilated area.


FlammableBurns easily. Paint, automotive products, thinners and other solvents are the most flammable household products. The label could say: Combustible. Flammable.

  • Do not use near heat or flame.
  • Do not smoke while using this product.



Can burn skin, clothing or other materials. Oven, drain and toilet bowl cleaners are common corrosive products. The label could say:

  • Causes severe burns on contact.
  • Can burn eyes, skin or throat.



Could create a poison gas when mixed with other products. Chlorine bleach reacts with many other common cleaners. Household products should never be mixed. The label could say:

  • Do not mix with other household products.



Not corrosive, but could irritate skin or eyes.

Strong sensitizer

You may become more sensitive (e.g. rash or breathing problems) after you are exposed two or more times.

Household Products Can Harm the Environment

  • Pesticides, including weed and feed, moss killers, insect sprays and slug bait can harm other plants, animals and insects (external link). These products can also be carried by rainwater to local water bodies where they can harm wildlife.

  • Medicines can enter the environment getting into our waterways – and even at low levels can harm aquatic life, showing up in fish.

  • Products containing mercury that are improperly thrown away can have long-term negative effects on our environment.

More information

  • Consumer Product Safety Commission: A product is hazardous if it can cause substantial personal injury (PDF) during ordinary use.
  • Environmental Protection Agency: Many household hazardous products add to indoor air pollution (external link) which is harmful to human and pet health.
  • Common Household Chemicals: Dangerous Mixtures (external link)