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Handling Hazardous Materials at Home

Many common household products contain chemicals that can cause injury or death if they are handled, stored or used improperly.

Some of the household products that contain hazardous chemicals are oven cleaners, tile cleaners, toilet-bowl cleaners, liquid drain openers, antifreeze, chrome-wheel cleaners, rust removers, gasoline, motor oil, lead paint, turpentine, lacquer thinner, and muriatic acid.

The following safety precautions can help keep you and your family safe.

Safety musts

  • Carefully read the ingredient list of any product or chemical you use. The label can also tell you how to use the proper protective equipment, how to handle the chemicals, and how to respond to emergencies. The label will tell you if the substance is flammable, corrosive, or carcinogenic. It will also state whether you should use a respirator, gloves, or other equipment.

  • Purchase the appropriate personal protective equipment such as gloves or goggles; clean and care for them properly.

  • Be aware of and alert to the hazardous materials you come in contact with. Learn about the specific characteristics and dangers.

  • Follow safe procedures when you handle hazardous material; don't take shortcuts.

  • Handle, mix, store and dispose of hazardous materials safely and according to approved procedures. Never pour them down sewers or drains.

  • Don't mix or combine hazardous materials unless you know you can do so safely. Acids and caustics, for instance, can cause violent reactions when combined.

  • Be careful when mixing chemicals; transferring a liquid from one container to another can produce sparks that could ignite flammable vapors.

  • Always carry chemicals in approved containers.

  • Always wash your hands after using any hazardous material.

  • Store materials properly, as directed on their labels. Flammable chemicals should be stored in a cool, dry place away from heat and sunlight. Some chemicals, such as acids, must be stored separately from each other.

Hazards of improper use

Exposure to hazardous materials can cause:

  • Trauma (as in explosion)

  • Burns

  • Illness

  • Death