I’m guessing that this article will probably be read with the greatest interest by the mothers of young children, but the fact is that this is really for everyone. Young or old, healthy or ill, we are all affected by the environment we live in.
For most people the idea of living in a toxic wasteland is pretty unappealing, and yet, if we aren’t careful that is exactly what we create in our own homes at time. The irony is that it is often the very products that we use to clean up and make our living space more appealing that does it.
Take for example, ammonia and bleach. Both are excellent cleansers, but when mixed together while cleaning can cause liberation of compounds called chloramines. These can cause light-headedness, breathing problems and eye irritation.
So how do you know what is safe?
Well, every material made in this country is required to have something called a Safety Data Sheet or SDS. If you worked at a factory, or at a company the uses any chemical material, these SDSs must been provided. They include information about the chemical, its safe concentration, how it can be toxic and what first aid measures need to be enacted in case of exposure via, skin, eyes, ingestion (swallowing) or inhalation.
Now I am a fan of prevention. That means avoiding unnecessary exposures and ingestions, but even with the best intentions, occasionally accidents happen. In a situation like that there are a number of resources available. Many, some of the best even, are maintained by the government and non-profit organizations like the National Library of Medicine. I have included the link below.
And there is the Household Products Database, which is supported by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
I recommend that people download or at least load these onto computers and cell phones to have available before an exposure. Of course if an incident occurs, don’t hesitate to dial 911 and/or your local Poison Control Center. The national association number is 1- 800- 222-1222. The link is below. And yes, they also have poison control centers for pets.
In any case, make sure you have that information ready before you need it and have those resources ready so that there is no delay in getting care when you or a loved one needs it.
With your body in mind…
Matthew Minson, M.D.