8 of the Most Dangerous Household Products

We expect our homes to be sanctuaries, keeping us comfortable and safe. But some common items people often have in their homes can be extremely hazardous to their health. Here are eight of the most dangerous household products.

1. Chemical cleaners

The ingredients in chemical household cleaners should make your skin crawl — literally and figuratively. For instance, some laundry detergents can cause skin and eye irritation — plus nausea, vomiting, shock and coma if they’re ingested, according to Cleveland Clinic. Chemical all-purpose cleaners can irritate the skin, eyes, nose and throat. Oven cleaners containing lye can burn your skin and eyes, even causing severe tissue damage. And fumes from carpet and upholstery cleaners can lead to cancer and liver damage.

Furthermore, mixing chemical cleaners — especially those with bleach — can result in the release of poisonous gases, Cleveland Clinic says. And swallowing many of these cleaners can cause serious health problems or even be fatal. So instead of bringing these chemicals into your home, breathe a little easier with natural, nontoxic cleaners.

2. Air fresheners

an air freshener plugged into a wall socket in a kitchen

They might promise to make your home smell “meadow fresh,” but air fresheners’ chemical fragrances bring anything but fresh air into your home. “There are concerns that these products increase indoor air pollution and pose a health risk, especially with long-term exposure,” according to Poison Control.

Plus, the chemicals in air fresheners tend to be highly flammable and can cause irritation if they come in contact with skin. And swallowing air fresheners can be life-threatening, especially for children and pets. The evaporating bead and reed diffuser varieties pose the most dangers because of their potency and ease of swallowing, Poison Control says. Fortunately, there are many nontoxic methods to make your home smell good.

3. Nonstick cookware

Nonstick pots and pans are a convenient way to cook, but there might be more than just your food that’s sliding off their surface. Until 2013, the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, was used to produce Teflon-coated cookware. “PFOA has been linked to a number of health conditions, including thyroid disorders, chronic kidney disease, liver disease and testicular cancer,” according to Healthline. “It has also been linked to infertility and low birth weight.” So if you have old Teflon products in your home, there’s a good chance you’re at risk of PFOA.

In addition, Teflon fumes can be dangerous if you use your cookware at high heat. Inhaling the fumes can lead to flu-like symptoms, as well as lung damage. So if you do cook with a Teflon product, keep it at low to medium heat, don’t preheat an empty pan and always use ventilation.

4. Lead paint

If you live in an older home, you might be exposed to lead paint. “Lead-based paints for homes, children’s toys and household furniture have been banned in the United States since 1978,” according to Mayo Clinic. “But lead-based paint is still on walls and woodwork in many older homes and apartments.” Even breathing dust in your home might expose you to the lead. In fact, lead paint is the most common source of lead poisoning in children, Mayo Clinic says.

Symptoms in adults include high blood pressure, muscle and joint pain, memory or concentration issues and headache. And children might experience developmental delays and learning disabilities.

5. Flame retardants

a blue couch in a living room

Flame retardants have been added to many household items, including upholstery, carpets and mattresses. Even electronics might contain them. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, chemicals within flame retardants can cause endocrine and thyroid disruption, reproductive issues, cancer and impaired neurological function. They can seriously affect child development, as well.

Fortunately, companies are moving away from using these chemicals, as new regulations have come into play. But it’s still important to check furniture labels for dangerous chemicals.

6. Manufactured wood products

If you live in a new home or recently bought new furniture, you might be exposed to unhealthy levels of formaldehyde. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, manufactured wood products — including plywood, particleboard and laminate flooring — can contain high amounts of formaldehyde. Plus, some drapery fabrics might also contain the chemical.

The good news is most of a product’s formaldehyde is released after about two years. But it’s always a good idea to allow as much fresh air into your home as possible, and aim to purchase only low- or no-formaldehyde products in the future.

7. Mothballs (and other pesticides)

If you use mothballs when you pack up your winter clothes, you might want to reconsider. Mothballs are essentially solid pesticides that slowly turn to vapor. Some varieties contain the active ingredient naphthalene. “If swallowed, naphthalene can damage red blood cells, causing kidney damage and many other problems,” according to Poison Control. “It can affect how blood carries oxygen to the heart, brain, and other organs. It can also cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, seizures and coma.”

Plus, simply breathing the fumes can cause poisoning, too. “Children have been poisoned by wearing wool clothing stored with naphthalene mothballs, although this is rare,” Poison Control says. Other varieties of mothballs contain paradichlorobenzene, which is less toxic but still can be poisonous. So if you need to get rid of household pests, aim to do it naturally.

8. Nonfunctioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

smoke swirling around a smoke detector

You never think a house fire or carbon monoxide leak will happen to you. But if you do find yourself in an emergency scenario, a functioning alarm could be what saves your life. The Red Cross suggests testing alarms once a month and changing their batteries every six months, regardless of whether they need it.

While you’re at it, check your appliances (especially if they’re gas), outlets, electrical cords and anything else that might be flammable or cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Most fires start in the kitchen, so know proper fire safety when you’re cooking. And keep a fire extinguisher close by just in case.

Main image credit: Tinatin1/Getty Images

71 comments

Marie W
Marie Wabout a month ago

Thanks for sharing

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Lisa M
Lisa M3 months ago

Thanks.

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Lisa M
Lisa M3 months ago

Thanks.

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Jack Y
Jack Y5 months ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y5 months ago

thanks

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John J
John J5 months ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J5 months ago

thanks for sharing

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rachel r
Past Member 7 months ago

Thank you!

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Alexandra R
Alexandra Richards8 months ago

Thank you.

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Val P
Val P8 months ago

interesting

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