All parents do their best to make sure their homes are safe for their families to live in, but sometimes you may not be able to avoid using items and products that could potentially cause harm, especially for curious young children.
7 household items that might have hidden dangers
You might not be aware of it, but the items below that you most likely have at home have been found to cause different kinds of adverse effects and even illnesses that has the potential to be be life-threatening. The list includes mothballs, cleaning products, air fresheners, and humidifiers.
Should we stop using non-stick cookware? Not necessarily
In recent years, there has been speculation about the safety of non-stick cookware because of the polytetrafluorothylene coating otherwise known as Teflon. Some were worried we might end up eating the Teflon coating when it peels off the pan. Could we be poisoning ourselves without knowing it?
Non-stick cookware can become dangerous when it is heated at 315.6°C and above, which releases gases. House Beautifulsays these gases have been associated with an increased risk of cancer.
Lisa McManus, executive testing and tasting editor for America’s Test Kitchen, tellsTODAY, however, that it is unlikely that you will reach a temperature of 300°C for day-to-day cooking. Manufacturers have become also much more careful in making sure that the Teflon doesn’t flake off their products.
If you want to be extra careful, McManus advises adding a bit of oil to the pan before preheating it — the oil will start smoking at 200°C, a sign that tells you the pan is getting too hot.
According to the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC), mothballs contain naphthalene and paradichlorobenzene, both of which can be harmful to the health. Naphthalene, in particular, has been found to destroy red blood cells and to cause cancer in animals.
“Mothballs slowly turn from solids to toxic vapor,” the NPIC website states. “When you smell mothballs, you are inhaling the insecticide. Mothballs can also be dangerous if they are chewed or eaten.”
Children and pets can be at risk of accidentally ingesting mothballs since they might mistake mothballs as candy or food.
Are air fresheners safe? It depends
According to the National Capital Poison Center in the U.S., air fresheners can have toxic effects, but it depends on the formulation. Small amounts of most air fresheners are usually not dangerous. But swallowing the gel-type evaporative beads or reed diffuser solutions can cause serious effects in children. Air fresheners contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that may cause damage to body organs such as the kidneys, lungs, and even the central nervous system with repeated and long-term exposures. VOCs also have adverse effects on the environment.
Should we still use toilet bowl cleaners? With extreme caution
They may do a great job at cleaning, but many toilet bowl cleaners may contain corrosive chemicals that can injure the skin, the eyes, and the lungs, upon direct contact. So keep them out of reach of your kids.
The American Lung Associationsays that many cleaning products release chemicals such as VOCs and contain such hazardous ingredients as bleach and ammonia. When released, the chemicals can contribute to chronic respiratory problems, headaches, and allergic reactions. Past studies have also found that exposure to cleaning products can be associated to occupational asthma.
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The good news is you can make your own toxic-free cleaning solutions at home that will be just as effective in keeping your home squeaky clean.
Is antibacterial soap harmful? Some of its additives, yes
In 2016, the U.S. Food & Drug Association (FDA) banned the usage of several additives commonly found in antibacterial soaps because there has been no conclusive proof of the effectiveness of these substances. Plus, antibacterial soaps have yet to be proven it is more effective than regular soaps in preventing illness.
Are extension cords a fire hazard? Yup
Extension cords are definitely convenient, but they can also pose a massive fire hazard when it's there are a lot of devices plugged in. Every year, more than 4,000 residential fires related to extension cords occur in the United States, according to data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Make sure you don’t overload your extension cord by making sure it can support the total number of watts of the plugged devices and appliances.
Why are humidifiers in this list? It becomes a problem if you don't clean it
Berkeley Wellnessstates that if a humidifier is not kept clean, it can emit pollution, allergens, and microbes into the air inside a home. Research published in the journal Pediatrics cited the case of an infant who might have accidentally suffered from lung injury after inhaling mineral dust from a humidifier caused by a build-up of minerals in the machine. It is also possible for a humidifier to disperse contaminants into the air if the water in it is full of contaminants.
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Make sure the air inside your home is clean, and your humidifier is doing its job properly by cleaning it regularly and correctly. It usually involves not only emptying the tank, wiping it dry, and refilling it with clean water, but also sanitizing it every seven days.