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Watch for Toxic Chemical Exposure during Spring Cleaning

With the start of spring comes blooming flowers, rising temperatures and spring cleaning. Cleaning products, however, can be more dangerous than some would think. The Environmental Protection Agency puts cleaning products among the five most common ways children are exposed to toxic chemicals.

There are 21 New York groups that are urging a prominent New York environmental group to take action in the enforcement of a law that has been on the records for 40 years. The law requires disclosure of the harmful chemicals that are found in cleaning products, but enforcement is weak.

The groups are hoping the state will couple with a multistate database, Interstate Chemicals Clearing House, to disclose the toxic chemicals in a variety of cleaning products. The groups argue that the cleaning products are dangerous to their users and to small children who play on floors where products are used.

What are Common Means of Exposure?

One common way for toxic chemical exposure to occur is by mixing chemicals. When chlorine bleach is mixed with ammonia or acids the results can be devastating. Several household cleaning products contain bleach, which their labels should reflect.

Ammonia is commonly found in glass cleaners, paints and animal urine. Acids are commonly found in window cleaners, dishwasher detergents, vinegar, drain and toilet bowl cleaners, brick and concrete cleaners, and rust removal products. Be careful not to mix these products with bleach.

What Symptoms can Result from Exposure

Symptoms resulting from exposure to toxic chemicals include:

· Nausea

· Coughing, wheezing, chest pain and shortness of breath

· Throat, eye and nose irritation

· Fluid in the lungs

· Pneumonia

· Skin pain, inflammation or sores

While spring cleaning, people should take care not to mix products and look out for symptoms of toxic chemical exposure. Remember that even when children are not cleaning, they are at risk for exposure as well.

Dangerous products can be extremely hazardous to children or other users, particularly when the manufacturer has overlooked safety standards.

Source: "Common Cleaning Products May Be Dangerous When Mixed,"

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