When it comes to the home, we don’t think of it as a dangerous place. Home is a place of warmth and security, yet unbeknownst to us there are several dangers and poisons lurking around we need to be aware of. Below are the 10 commonest household items we use that could be dangerous for the home.

When it comes to household products, we tend to use them continuously for many years. Some of us may be aware of what they contain, but none of us know the effects of their longterm use. Whether natural or chemical cleaning agents or  quality utensils, we know what the label says. What is even more important is our research of the products, what they contain and what’s their shelf life before they become hazardous and dangerous to the family’s health. Here are some important things you need to know.


Cleaning agents for appliances are strong, corrosive and meant to remove stubborn dirt and grime. As such they contain corrosive alkalis that over a period of time can have irreversible damage to skin, the stomach and respiratory system if ingested or inhaled. It is wise to switch to natural cleaning agents such as lime and baking soda or keep cleaning with soap and warm water regularly.


Air fresheners spray scents and chemicals directly into the air and are inhaled gradually over a period of time. Depending on the product, chemicals can affect hormones and cause breathing problems in children. Instead of chemical based air fresheners, an easy and quick way to remove bad odours would be to dip cotton balls in essential oils and place them around the house. They lift mood and make the home smell good.


Non stick cookware is something that many households cannot live without. While its convenient to not have your food stick to the utensils, continuous use over years can be bad for health. The coating that makes these utensils not stick – polytetrafluoroethylene – leaches gases when heated and much research done over years has linked this to cancer and other ailments.


Toilet bowl cleaners have to be corrosive because of their ability to remove grime and sanitise the bowl. It is also this very property that makes such cleaners hazardous, and causes burns to skin and eyes. They are also dangerous if mixed with other cleaners.


Oil based polishes and stains are very dangerous, because they are inflammable and contain nitrobenzene that gets absorbed by skin causing cancer. Stains are generally applied on furniture and inhaling them continuously, has been found to have adverse effects on the nervous system.


Because soaps and shampoos are used daily and come in contact with the body, it is good to read through the ingredients before using them. Those with triclosan and trichlorocarbon, especially the anti-bacterial soaps are known to cause resistance to bacteria over time according to the FDA.


Mothballs have naphthalene and research has suggested they are dangerous to the body, including causing skin and other ailments. It would be wise to ensure they don’t come in contact with skin and are never kept within reach of children.


Extension cords are one of the most abused items in the home. Most people don’t realise that there is a particular voltage capacity these cords can take and load quite a bit onto it, connecting all kinds of gadgets and appliances. Worn our cords, unbranded boxes and placing them near carpets and furniture can make them even more hazardous.


Lead based paints peeling off and leaching chemicals is a reality and even though today’s paints are safer, there is a possibility of lead poisoning from being in a recently painted room without ventilation. It is important to keep windows and doors open at all times when rooms are painted.


Chemicals in sofa, furnishing and upholstery that supposedly prevent them from flaming up, are equally dangerous. These retardants are particularly concentrated in old carpets and sofas.

Besides the common ones stated above, there are several other items around the home that can harm health over time. It is therefore important to be aware and know what you buy for the home, read through labels and ensure they are all handled with adequate precautions such as gloves and face masks wherever necessary.

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