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A Consumer's Dictionary of Household, Yard and Office Chemicals.

We and our children live in a sea of chemicals. More than fifty thousand chemicals are now in common use in this country, and about a thousand more are added every year. Many of the seemingly innocent, brightly packaged products we purchase at grocery, drug or hardware stores contain allergens, poisons or cancer-causing agents.

Most parents are aware of what household products to keep out of children's reach, but many aren't aware of potential hazards in products that our children may never actually eat or touch. According to the Environmental Protwction Agency (EPA), the greatest exposure to many toxic chemicals takes place in our homes. Potential hazardous chemicals lie in home insulation, detergent, varnish, paper towels and some fabrics. Yard and garden chemicals may be deadly for humans as well as garden pests.

Labels supposedly list all a product's ingredients, but labels often fail to note all appropriate cautions, or give information on possible cumulative effects. Some labels warn against swallowing a product's contents or allowing contents to touch skin, but fail to warn against the danger of inhaling acids, solvents or other potential poisons or irritants.

Take a look around your own kitchen, garage, tool shed and bathroom. Do you have oven-cleaners, detergents, solvents, paints, varnish thinners, pesticides, insect repellents, carbon paper, or typewriter ribbons)

We may not have control over outdoor pollution or hidden additives, but we can control what we purchase for household use, with a Consumer's Dictionary of Household, yard and Office Chemicals by Ruth Winter (Crown Publishers, 201 East 50th St., New York NY 10022, 1992, $12.00).

Winter's book parents to some surprising facts: the same ingredients used in chemical warfare are widely used by unaware consumers in their homes. The disinfectants, toilet cleaners and laundry detergents we use contain complex mixtures of synthetic compounds that can harm our children and our environment. The EPA estimates that the average household contains between three to ten gallons of hazardous chemicals.

This book's introduction offers parents valuable guidelines on how to read labels - in some cases how to decipher labels. Potentially hazardous materials may masquerade under innocent-sounding names. Become alert to symptoms you or your child may exhibit that might indicate a dangerous household product, or misuse of an otherwise harmless product. Read about safe substitutes for risky products, the virtues of ventilation, and safer methods of housekeeping and gardening.

The dictionary portion of the book is just that -- an alphabetical list from Abietic Acid (found in typewriting paper and varnishes) to Zirconium Oxide (used in colored ceramic glazes and batteries). Each listing gives the chemical, its derivation, use and benefit, or hazard and suggested substitute.

Keep your child safe from potentially hazardous household porducts and become a more product parent and cautious consumers with A Consumer's Dictionary of Household, Yard and Office Chemicals.

COPYRIGHT 1993 Pediatrics for Parents, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Wood, Bettina
Publication:Pediatrics for Parents
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1993
Words:468
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