Hazardous Materials in the Home
Even though we may not realize it, most American families have become dependent upon the daily use of chemical products in our homes. Many of these chemical products require special handling, storage, and disposal. We depend upon these products because they are quick and easy to use.
Dangers from chemicals depend greatly on the individuals using them. Chemicals are safe to use when people read the directions and use them correctly. Chemicals play an important role in our health, economy, and social lives by providing us with better medicines and foods, creating jobs, and making our living environment more comfortable.
When people assume they know how to deal with a chemical or they just do not follow the directions, injuries, illness, and even death can occur. Our homes can sometimes be more dangerous than a laboratory because people ignore safety measures.
Americans have about half a million different products containing chemicals available for use in our homes. Most people use chemicals safely everyday without incident, but as the number of chemical products increases, the rate of improper use and injury also increases.
You may not believe your home generates enough household hazardous waste to cause a problem, but when you combine it with the waste from all the other homes in your community, you can begin to understand how household hazardous products can pose a danger to your health and the environment.
The majority of chemicals found in and around your home can be grouped into 3 main groups: flammable, corrosive, poison/toxic. It is important to remember that some chemicals can fit into more than one group at a time. A chemical could be both flammable and corrosive.
Chemicals can enter your body in a combination of ways. There are four main ways chemicals enter your body. The first two ways are through: swallowing or eating, and touching or direct contact with the skin.
The second two ways chemicals enter the body are through: puncture of the skin, and breathing into the lungs.
Chemicals you use may affect the body both immediately and over long periods of time.
Note: Some people may react violently to certain chemicals with a life-threatening allergic reaction including: chest pains, vomiting, and trouble breathing. In an allergic reaction, our bodies are telling us we are in severe danger. These people should seek medical attention immediately, by calling 9-1-1 or your local Emergency Medical Services.
Sometimes, even when you are careful, accidents occur. The product's label is very important to medical professionals during an accident with household hazardous materials. Most labels instruct you to call your local Emergency Medical Services (EMS), family physician or a Poison Control Center in case of an emergency. Whoever you decide to call, you will need to have the product's container in order to provide information they will request such as the chemical name, manufacturer, and first aid instructions. Some other things that may come in handy during an emergency are:
Due to increased public awareness of the dangers of hazardous materials, many communities in the United States now have designated household hazardous waste collection days annually. Rutherford County participates in this program to view a schedule go to the following URL: http://www.state.tn.us/environment/swm/hhw/hazcoll.shtml After collection, waste is then transported to specially designed treatment or recycling facilities. Used motor oil and antifreeze are two of the most commonly recycled household hazardous wastes. You may take used motor oil or antifreeze to a local auto mechanic shops. Call and check first before taking used motor oil or antifreeze to a shop in your area.
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