Chemicals in and around the home can poison people or pets and can cause long-term health effects. Every 13 seconds, a poison control center in the United States answers a call about a possible poisoning. More than 90% of these exposures occur in the home. Poisoning can result from medicines, pesticides, household cleaning products, carbon monoxide, and lead.
The most common causes of poisoning among young children are cosmetics and personal care products, household cleaning products, and pain relievers. Common causes among adults are pain relievers, prescription drugs, sedatives, cleaning products, and antidepressants.
Pesticides are used in about three out of four U.S. homes. They are used to prevent or kill bugs or rodents. They can also poison people or pets.
Children can swallow detergents, bleaches, and other cleaning products. Breathing fumes from these products can also harm people.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can be caused by poorly vented gas furnaces and appliances. It can also be caused by gas generators used during electrical power outages and by indoor use of charcoal grills or portable stoves.
The major source of lead poisoning among U.S. children is lead-based paint and dust with lead. All houses built before 1978 are likely to contain some lead in the paint. However, it is the flaking, peeling paint that causes a problem. Other sources of lead in the home may include traditional home remedies, ceramics, toys and toy jewelry, lead-contaminated soil, lead water pipes, and lead solder used in plumbing.
Health and Safety Tips
- Make sure your child does not have access to peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint.
- Use and store chemicals, household cleaning products, and pesticides according to label instructions and out of reach of children
- Have gas appliances professionally installed, vented outside, and checked annually for carbon monoxide leaks.
- Take all medicines as directed and store out of reach of children.
- Turn on fans and open windows to help ventilate the area when using household cleaners and chemicals.
- Lead Poisoning Prevention
- CDC’s Environmental Public Health Tracking Network posts integrated data on lead poisoning risks in children.
- Unintentional Poisoning
- Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
- Using Pesticides Safely (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA])
- Integrated Pest Management
- Children Are at Greater Risks from Exposure (EPA)
- Ten Tips to Protect Children from Chemical and Lead Poisoning (EPA)