Hazardous Chemicals present in the household and their adverse affects on health

Chemicals are a tricky thing to deal with and special care should be exercised while handling them. Our college education has taught us that we should use protective gear (lab coat and glasses) while dealing with chemicals. Same should be done when using household chemicals which can prove dangerous in case of improper handling. Featured here are some of the household chemicals that are shown with the help of animations.

1) Formaldehyde and Phenol

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Both these chemicals are present in the air fresheners that we use around the house and in cars as well. Formaldehyde acts a toxic carcinogen and direct contact with it can cause blindness. Phenol, on contact with skin can cause it to swell, burn, peel, and break out in hives and an excess of phenol can cause cold sweats, convulsions, circulatory collapse, coma and even death. Chemical burns from skin exposures can be decontaminated by washing with polyethylene glycol, isopropyl alcohol, or perhaps even copious amounts of water.

 2) Ammonia

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It is a very volatile chemical and solutions of ammonia are used as household cleaners, particularly for glass. These solutions are irritating to the eyes and mucous membranes (respiratory and digestive tracts). Caution should be used that ammonia is never mixed into any liquid containing bleach, as a poisonous gas may result. Mixing with chlorine-containing products or strong oxidants can lead to hazardous compounds such as chloramines. The animation shows how preheated metal shavings act in the presence of ammonia vapor.

3) Bleach

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Bleach is a strong corrosive. It will irritate or burn the skin, eyes and respiratory tract. It may cause pulmonary edema or vomiting and coma if ingested. Bleach with acid toilet bowl cleaners can result in toxic, potentially deadly fumes. Mixing chlorine bleach with vinegar results in a toxic chlorine vapor so do not mix chlorine bleach with any acid. The animation shows the reaction of coke with chlorine which results in Chlorinated soda smoke.

4) Lye and Hydrochloric Acid

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The mixture of these chemicals is usually present in drain cleaners. Lye is caustic chemical which upon ingestion causes damage to esophagus and stomach. Hydrochloric acid on the other hand is quite corrosive and may cause damage to kidneys, liver and digestive tract. The animation shows the effect a drain cleaner has on a sponge.

5) Sodium hypochlorite

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Sodium hypochlorite has destaining properties. It is present in mold and mildew cleaners. The chemical is corrosive by nature and irritates or burns the eyes and skin. It also causes fluids in the lungs which can lead to coma or death.  The animation shows the haloform reaction of which sodium hypochlorite is also a part.

6) Sodium Hydroxide

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Also known as caustic soda, it is mostly present in oven cleaners used at homes. Sodium hydroxide can cause the decomposition of proteins and lipids in skin and may induce permanent blindness if it contacts eyes. Solid alkali may also express its corrosive nature if there is water, so protective equipment such as rubber gloves, safety clothing and eye protection should always be used when handling the material or its solutions.

7) Petroleum distillates

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The petroleum related products are associated with skin and lung cancer. They are irritant to skin, eyes, nose and lungs. There entry into the lungs may cause fatal pulmonary edema. They are mostly present in car and furniture polishes. A petroleum distillation tower is shown in the animation.

8) Chlorinated Hydrocarbons

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Most pesticides have this ingredient that affects the nervous system. Chlorinated hydrocarbon is a suspected carcinogen and mutantagen. It accumulates in food and in fatty tissue and attacks the nervous system. The animation shows a hydrocarbon undergoing chlorination.

23055   06/08/2014

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