In last week’s blog, I discussed carpet and upholstery cleaners as potential lethal poisons. This week I’d like to discuss the dangers of other household cleaning products and their potential to cause harm.
Air Fresheners: Most of these products work by coating your nasal passages with an oily film or a nerve-deadening agent to interfere with your ability to smell odors. The common chemicals in air fresheners include formaldehyde and phenol. Both can trigger allergic reactions in small doses that might exhibit as a rash that looks like hives. If accidentally ingested, however, these chemicals can cause convulsions, circulatory collapse, coma and even death.
Furniture Polish: These products are highly flammable because of their oil content and often contain phenol and nitrobenzene—both of which are extremely toxic chemicals that can easily be absorbed through the skin. Nitrobenzene, depending on the amount inhaled or absorbed via skin tissue, can cause fatigue, headaches and dizziness. And in larger doses, a person may experience decreased respiration, blurred vision and eventually slip into a coma. A telltale sign of a nitrobenzene overdose is a bluish-gray tint to the skin.
Oven Cleaners: These household products contain lye (sodium hydroxide) this chemical is the substance of choice to dissolve roadkill that gets dumped into landfills. Lye is certainly not selective and would not mind dissolving YOU—either from the outside or the inside, depending on how you encounter it.
Antibacterial Cleaners: These products often contain the chemical triclosan. I’ve blogged about the dangers of overusing this household item before and their contribution to the development of drug-resistant bacteria. Triclosan, however, has also been linked to liver damage because of its ability to be absorbed through the skin. The chemical also reduces muscle contractions—studies in animals indicate a 25% reduction in cardiac function and an average 18% decrease in grip strength.
As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, ordinary household cleaners can have dramatic lethal effects if used improperly or without caution. Accidental overdoses happen more often than one might think.
This may excite the murder mystery writer and give interesting ideas for murder plots. But, for the “ordinary” individual, I hope this blog will cause you to use such products with renewed vigilance.
Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!