Table 1. Chemicals Commonly Found in Household Products, and their Potential Effects to Health
Hand out for Potential Hazards in Your Home 9-12 Activity
Trash Goes To School
Cornell Waste Management Institute
 Chemical name Health effects
 Cadmium Carcinogen. Respiratory irritant. Causes kidney damage. With experimental animals, cadmium produced damage to the liver and central nervous system and testicular atrophy.
 Carbaryl (Sevin (R))  Suspected animal carcinogen. When given to several species of pregnant animals has also caused defects in their offspring. May cause kidney damage. Causes acute nervous system effects.
 Chlordane  Suspected carcinogen. Predominantly affects the central nervous system, causing irritability, tremors, and convulsions. Causes kidney damage.
 Cresol  Very corrosive to all tissues. Prolonged or repeated absorption of low concentrations of cresol through the skin, mucous membrane, or respiratory tract may cause chronic systemic poisoning.
 DDVP (Dichlorvos)  Testing suggests the chemical has cancer-causing properties. May cause gene damage. Causes acute nervous system effects.
 Lindane  Suspected human carcinogen. May cause aplastic anemia. Skin, eye, respiratory irritant.
 Lye  Markedly corrosive to all bodily tissues. Causes burns and frequently deep ulceration with ultimate scarring. Mist, vapor, and dust cause small burns. Eye contact can cause severe damage to delicate tissue.
 Methylene Chloride  Suspected carcinogen. Causes liver and kidney damage in animals. Exposure to this chemical may make symptoms of angina worse. Smokers with cardiac disease may be at increased risk due to reports of excessive carboxyhemoglobin levels following exposure. Alters ability of blood to carry oxygen to tissues. Skin, eye and respiratory irritant (liquid and vapor). Mild narcotic.
 Nitrosamines  Suspected human carcinogen. Potent cancer-causing agent in animals. Can cause liver damage, jaundice and fever.
 Phenol  May cause severe burns upon skin contact.
 Pine Oil  Irritating to eyes and mucous membranes. Systemic effects include weakness and central nervous depression, with hypothermia and respiratory failure. Allergen. Causes kidney irritation/damage.
 Potassium Hydroxide  Extremely alkaline and very corrosive to all body tissues.
 Rotenone  Skin, eye, and respiratory irritant. Possible reproductive hazard. Can cause tremors and convulsions. In animal experiments, rotenone dust has caused liver and kidney damage and has produced tumors.
 Sodium Hydroxide  See Lye.
 Toluene  Possible reproductive hazard. Vapor causes narcosis. Skin, eye, respiratory irritant.
 2,4-D  Causes liver and kidney damage in animals. May cause convulsions and dermatitis in humans.
 2,4,5-T  Suspected animal carcinogen. Common contaminants of commercial preparation of 2,4,5-T cause severe acne and liver damage. Animal experiments have shown that these contaminants may produce damage in unborn rats.
 Xylene  Liver and kidney damage have been observed. Possible reproductive hazard. Eye and respiratory irritant. Can cause dermatitis and central nervous system depression.
NOTE: Although not listed, a few common short-term effects of chemical overexposure include dizziness, vomiting, nausea, sweating, and blurred vision. Long term effects, which are the major focus of this glossary, are provided to alert consumers to the potential dangers associated with particular chemicals and the necessity of using and disposing of them safely. It should be noted that many scientists believe that human health effects can be predicted from the results of animal studies.
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