While we know that gas-burning stoves and various cleaning products are just some of many dangerous items that can be in our homes, there are plenty of questionable products lying around our houses with hidden dangers we didn't know the effects of—until now. Below, we list the 19 most dangerous items you might have in your home, and the damage they can cause.
1. Non-Stick Cookware. While it's nice not to have to soak your pans overnight or scrape off burnt-on food, the ease of non-stick cookware comes with a price—your safety. Polytetrafluoroethylene, the coating that makes products "non-stick," releases gases when heated at 600 degrees, which have been linked to putting humans at higher risk for cancer and other harmful health effects.
2. Flea and Tick Products. Flea and tick products for pets may save your pooch from unwanted bites, but the pesticides can lead to nerve damage, neurological problems, seizures, and more, according to an alert issued by the FDA.
3. Mothballs. Naphthalene, found in mothballs, can destroy red blood cells and has been proven to cause cancer in animals (it has not yet been proven to cause cancer in humans). Since mothballs turn from solid into vapor, you're essentially inhaling the insecticide, which can cause nausea, dizziness, disorientation, and difficulty breathing.
4. Air Fresheners. Toxins found in air fresheners can accumulate in the body over time. According to the Ackerman Cancer Center, they contain phthalates and other hazardous chemicals that can easily be inhaled, absorbed by the skin, or ingested by accident. Long-term exposure to chemicals in air fresheners can cause damage to the lungs, kidneys, and central nervous system, and can even alter the body's hormones, which increases an individual's risk of cancer and can cause reproductive issues.
5. Oven Cleaner. Many of these cleaners contain corrosive alkalis, which can have grave effects on your gastrointestinal tract and respiratory system and can be deadly if swallowed.
6. Furniture Polish and Stain. Non-vegetable, oil-based stains and polishes are not only extremely flammable but contain the chemicals phenol and nitrobenzene, which can be absorbed by your skin and cause skin cancer. Medline says if the poison touches your skin or eyes, you can experience irritation, vision loss, or skin burns. If you accidentally swallow it, furniture polish can cause severe throat or stomach pain, throat swelling, or vomiting, and may even induce a coma.
7. Toilet Bowl Cleaner. The corrosive ingredients that make these acidic products clean so well can also cause burns on skin and eyes if they come into . They are also extremely dangerous when mixed with other types of cleaners.
8. Gas Space Heaters. Gas-powered anything releases toxins, and using these heaters indoors can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning—a condition that presents very few warning symptoms. According to the National Fire Protection Association, space heaters cause 43 percent of home heater fires each year.
9. Cleaning Solutions. It's no secret that household cleaners—the biggest offenders on the list, and the most commonly used—contain hazardous toxins. What's most concerning is that the manufacturers are not required to list their ingredients on the bottle, even for products claiming to be "green" or "natural," thus leaving consumers in the dark. A study published in the Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine states that inhaling cleaning products is as bad for the lungs as smoking 20 cigarettes a day.
10. Extension Cords. While an extension cord itself isn't dangerous, the way it's commonly used can be. Many people don't realize the cords have a voltage capacity and plug in as many things as they can—creating a huge fire hazard. The CPSP estimates that there are 4,600 residential home fires each year that are related to extension cords, killing 70 people and harming 230 annually. It also estimates that around 2,200 shock-related injuries from extension cords happen each year.
11. Antibacterial Soaps. For many years antibacterial soaps were assumed the "better" way to ward off harmful diseases and bacteria. There actually has been no proven data that antibacterial soaps are better at preventing illness than plain soap and water. According to the FDA, they can be linked to creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria and also impact the effectiveness of certain medical treatments.
12. Flaking Paint. Homes built as recently as the late 1970s can have interiors covered in lead-based paint—which is hazardous when the paint starts to flake AND when it's time to repaint. Inhaling these particles can lead to lead poisoning, especially in pregnant women and children.
15. Bleach. This almost goes without saying, but bleach is an extremely hazardous chemical that almost everyone has stored in their homes. Not only will the ingestion of bleach cause internal problems and fatalities, it also increases your risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to research.
16. Printers. Research published by the American Chemical Society looks into the particulate matter emitted by your household printer and suggests that it may be similar to what's released in cigarette smoke.
17. CFL Light Bulbs. These kind of bulbs themselves aren't a danger—until they break. When they do, they release a small amount of mercury into the air, which could be hazardous in your home. If this happens, follow these steps released by the Environmental Protection Agency, including airing out the room where the break occurred for five to 10 minutes.
18. Dryers. While they're free of chemicals, dryers pose another threat to the safety of your home. Each year there are 2,900 fires caused by dryers, according to FEMA, causing an average of five deaths. To prevent overheating, make sure to always clean out your lint trap and get your dryer serviced frequently.
19. Electric Blankets. Electricity is never something to mess around with, especially when dealing with heating gadgets. A report by the National Center for Biotech Information revealed that some people have experienced heat stroke due to electric blankets, and some believe they can also lead to reproductive problems.
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