[Pharmwaste] You Can Avoid Hazardous Chemicals

TBadrick at aol.com TBadrick at aol.com
Tue Sep 1 10:22:20 EDT 2009

Thanks for posting Deborah
Ask any serious owner of pet birds what they use for cleaners.
Those of us that have parrots in our lives are all too familiar with the  
danger of non-stick coating on cookware as well.  This extends beyond the  
standard small frying pans that are common and into bakeware, as well  as 
inside your oven (when using the self-cleaning mechanism).  
The old adage about canary in a coal mine is also a good indicator for  
toxicity to birds from a frying pan.  If exposure to fumes from a heated  
non-stick pan can kill a healthy parrot nearby in a few minutes....its a safe  
bet its not so good for our lungs either.
Tom Badrick
In a message dated 9/1/2009 7:09:49 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time,  
Deborah.DeBiasi at deq.virginia.gov writes:


You  Can Avoid Hazardous Chemicals

Tuesday, September 1, 2009  

Everyday products can expose you to potentially hazardous  chemicals,
some of which can accumulate in your body. As revealed in a  published
study, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and  Prevention
have now detected 212 of those chemicals in the blood or urine  of some
2,500 volunteers. Here are some potential problems associated  with
common household items, as well as Consumer Reports' recommendations  for
less-toxic alternatives. 

Air fresheners

They can emit  volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as petroleum
distillates and  d-limonene. Both compounds can irritate the skin, and
petroleum distillates  can bother eyes and the respiratory tract.
Additionally, many air  fresheners contain synthetic fragrances that have
compounds called  phthalates. Some phthalates are linked to hormonal
abnormalities, birth  defects and reproductive problems. 

ALTERNATIVES {vbar} Try getting rid  of the source of the odor, rather
than masking it with an air freshener,  and leave an open box of baking
soda to absorb any lingering smells. If you  must use an air freshener,
do so only in well-ventilated spaces or consider  natural fragrances,
such as herbs and spices boiled in water or wooden  sticks dipped in
natural oils. 

Bathroom and kitchen  cleaners

Drain openers can contain sodium hydroxide or sulfuric acid,  which can
harm eyes, lungs and skin. Also, scouring powder can contain  chlorine
bleach; bleach should never be mixed with other cleaners  because
together they can form toxic gases. Further, potassium hydroxide  and
sodium hydroxide, which are found in some oven cleaners, can  irritate
eyes, lungs and skin. 

ALTERNATIVES {vbar} Try a plunger,  plumber's auger or snake to unclog
drains. To clean stains on tiles and  glass, make a paste of baking soda
and water. Use the paste with steel wool  or a nylon scrubbing pad to
clean your oven. And you can add salt to the  mixture for extra abrasion
power when tackling tough stains.  


New carpets as well as the adhesives used to install  them can emit VOCs.

ALTERNATIVES {vbar} Air out new carpeting by  opening windows and running
a fan for a few days. Moreover, prior to  installing new carpet, ask for
low-VOC, formaldehyde-free adhesives.  

Dry-cleaned clothing

It can release perchloroethylene (perc), a  probable human carcinogen. 

ALTERNATIVES {vbar} First, consider "wet"  cleaning, a dry-cleaning
service that does not use perc. But when you must  dry-clean, hang items
near an open window to air them out. 

House  paints and paint removers

Paints can spread VOCs. Also, methylene  chloride, which in lab tests
causes cancer in animals, is found in aerosol  paints and paint removers.

ALTERNATIVES {vbar} Choose low-VOC  paints. Paint in well-ventilated
rooms, and wear a face mask or respirator  if you are particularly
sensitive or have underlying breathing problems  such as asthma. 

Pest control

Roach pesticides can contain  organophosphates and carbamates. These
substances are neurotoxins, which  can cause headaches, nausea and
tremors. Rodent killers aren't any better:  They often contain warfarin,
a chemical that can cause internal bleeding.  

ALTERNATIVES {vbar} Try roach traps that use bait made from  slow-acting
poisons or compounds that interfere with a pest's reproductive  system.
These products are extremely targeted, stay in a specific area  and
aren't sprayed, which can cause more inadvertent exposure  than
necessary. For rodents, try such preventive measures as sealing  entry
points where rodents can creep in. If they've already infiltrated,  set
ordinary mousetraps. 

Plastic products

New plastic  products, including computer casings made with polyvinyl
chloride, can emit  phthalates. Additionally, they can release
polybrominated diphenyl ethers,  flame-retardant chemicals that are
linked to neurological changes in  animals. 

ALTERNATIVES {vbar} If the smell is strong, ventilate the  area until the
chemical odor dissipates. And on a regular basis, vacuum  around
computers, printers and televisions to remove particles that shed  from
the plastic and stick to dust. 

Pressed-wood and upholstered  furniture

Some glues in pressed wood as well as wrinkle-resistant  fabrics can
release formaldehyde, a probable carcinogen that can cause  allergic
reactions and bother the eyes, nose and throat.  

ALTERNATIVES {vbar} Put existing furniture in well-ventilated areas  and,
when shopping for new items, look for formaldehyde-free  furniture,
upholstery and wood products. 

Wood  cleaners

Furniture cleaners can give off VOCs, and some polishes  contain naphtha.
Naphtha can induce headaches and nausea, and can cause  problems in the
central nervous system. 

ALTERNATIVES {vbar} Wear  gloves and make sure the room is
well-ventilated when using furniture  polishes. In particular, when
cleaning wood floors, consider mixing one cup  of vinegar into a pail of
hot water for a nontoxic cleaning alternative.  

Copyright 2009. Consumers Union of United States Inc.  

Deborah L. DeBiasi 
Email:    Deborah.DeBiasi at deq.virginia.gov (NEW!)
WEB site address:   www.deq.virginia.gov 
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality  
Office of Water Permit Programs 
Industrial Pretreatment/Toxics  Management Program 
PPCPs, EDCs, and Microconstituents 
Mail:   P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA  23218 (NEW!)  
Location:  629 E. Main Street, Richmond, VA  23219 
PH:   804-698-4028 
FAX:       804-698-4032 

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