Environmental Health
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Household Hazardous Materials
 
  Household Hazardous Materials  
 
 

What are Household Hazardous Materials?

 
 

Read the Label!

Look for the words Poison, Danger, Warning, or Caution on the product label. Poison and Danger indicate the highest hazard levels:

Poison means that a product is highly toxic, and can cause injury or death if ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin.

Danger means that a product is either highly toxic, flammable, or corrosive. Look for the word danger on cleaners, polishes, paint strippers and pesticides. Danger means the product could poison you, cause serious damage to your skin or eyes, or easily cause a fire.

Warning and Caution both indicate that a product may be mildly to moderately toxic, corrosive, reactive, or flammable.

Products that don't have any of the above words on the label are the least hazardous.

Hazards of Common Household Products

List of typical hazardous ingredients and other hazards associated with common household products. ...more

Look for Hazardous Properties

A product is hazardous if it has at least one of the following properties:

Toxic Poisonous or causes long-term illness (such as cancer). Pesticides, paint thinners, many auto products and some cleaners are toxic. Look for words on the product label like:

  • "Harmful or fatal if swallowed"
  • "Use only in a well-ventilated area" (this means product fumes are toxic)

Flammable Burns easily. Paint, thinners and other solvents, and auto products are the most flammable home products. Look for words on the product label like:

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

Corrosive Eats through materials (acid, for example). Oven cleaners, drain cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, and auto batteries are common corrosive products. Look for words on the product label like:

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

Reactive Can spontaneously ignite or create poisonous vapors when mixed with other products (therefore NEVER mix household products). Can also explode when exposed to heat, air, water, or shock. Fortunately, there are few consumer products still on the market that are explosive (except for fireworks). Some older explosive products might still be stored in homes.

 
 
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This page last updated: 08/11/14