Poison centers answer more than 4 million calls each year. That is more than one call every eight seconds. According to the Association of Poison Centers, children under 6 years of age account for over half of the calls placed to poison centers. About 150,000 of the calls are concerns about exposure to common household pesticides such as bath and kitchen disinfectants and sanitizers, household maintenance products such as drain cleaner, paints and glues and automotive products such as anti-freeze or windshield washer fluid. If ingested, these pesticides and household chemicals can be fatal. As a result, it is vital to keep pesticides and household chemicals out of reach of children – preferably in a locked or high cabinet.
Dangerous Household Products
Household products that should be kept in a locked cabinet and out of children’s reach include the following:
- Bath and kitchen disinfectants and sanitizers, including bleach
- Household cleaning or maintenance products, such as drain cleaner, paints or glue
- Automotive products stored around the home, such as anti-freeze or windshield washer fluid
- Health or beauty care products such as medicines, hair and nail products
- Roach sprays and baits
- Insect repellents
- Rat and other rodent poisons
- Weed killers
- Products used to kill mold or mildew
- Flea and tick shampoos, powders, and dips for pets
- Swimming pool chemicals
How to Prevent Poisonings
Millions of poisoning incidents in the United States can be prevented if parents and caregivers remember to lock up products that could harm children. Yet, an EPA study found that among households with children under the age of five, nearly half stored pesticides in an unlocked cabinet, within reach of children. Poisoning incidents are often easily preventable.
Simple steps you can take to prevent poisonings from occurring in your home:
- Use the safest possible products – environmentally friendly products are always safer than conventional products. Look for the Design for the Environment label on products.
- Always store pesticides and other household chemical products in a locked cabinet or garden shed away from pets and children.
- Read the label first and follow the directions to the letter – remember, the label is the law!
- Never leave pesticides and other household chemical products unattended when you are using them.
- Re-close pesticides and other household chemical products if interrupted during application.
- Use child-resistant packaging properly by closing the container tightly after use.
- Never transfer pesticides and other household chemical products to containers that may be mistaken for food or drink.
- Remove children, pets, toys, bottles and pacifiers before applying pesticides. Follow label directions to determine when children and pets can return to the area that has been treated.
- To protect children and pets from exposure to mouse and rat poison, use products with a tamper-resistant bait station.
- Never use illegal pesticides (e.g., Tres Pasitos, unregistered Insecticidal Chalk, or Tempo). These products may pose a danger to public health. Always look for an EPA Registration ID number on the label.
- Have your home and child tested for lead.
- Have a working carbon monoxide detector in your home.
- Program the Poison Help number, 1-800-222-1222, in your phone. When accidents happen with pesticides call Poison Help and get help right away from a local poison expert.
Preferred Cleaning Product Attributes
Want to start purchasing Green Products but don’t know who to trust? The following attributes are often indicators of more environmentally friendly products.
- Use of renewable resources, such as bio-based solvents from citrus, seed, vegetable, and pine oils
- Low VOC content
- Biodegradable by standard methods and definitions
- Low toxicity in aquatic species such as fish or aquatic invertebrates, e.g. LC50 or EC50 > 10 mg/L (chronic) reported on MSDS or other product literature.
- Low flammability, e.g. flash point > 200 degrees F
And include a minimal presence of or exposure to potentially harmful chemicals, such as:
- Corrosive or strongly irritating substances.
- Substances classified as known or likely human carcinogens or reproductive toxicants by authorities such as the National Toxicology Program, the U.S. EPA, the International Agency for Research on Cancer or the State of California.
- Ozone-depleting compounds as listed in Clean Air Act regulations.
- Regulated hazardous materials (e.g. products classified as hazardous waste; products that trigger OSHA hazard communication requirements).
The information from this article was obtained from the EPA.