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Hazardous-chemical releases in the home.

* The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) established the Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance (HSEES) system in 1990.

* During 1996-2001, 39,766 events were reported to the HSEES system by participating state health departments.

* Of these, 682 events (2 percent) involved releases of hazardous chemicals in private residences.

* Four chemicals frequently released in household events are used for cleaning:

1. hydrochloric acid (used for general cleaning);

2. sodium hypochlorite (household liquid bleach);

3. chlorine (used as a disinfectant); and

4. sulfuric acid (the main component of drain and toilet bowl cleaners).

* Malathion is the active ingredient in mosquito-control products and in other pesticide products.

* Carbon monoxide (CO) is a by-product of incomplete combustion.

* It can enter the home from fuel-burning appliances such as

-- furnaces,

-- water heaters,

-- fireplaces,

-- wood stoves, and

-- space heaters.

* The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends yearly inspections of fuel-burning appliances for leaks and cracks by a qualified technician.

* It also recommends installation of CO detectors in homes.

* There is a need for ongoing education advising the general public to

-- read instructions carefully before using or disposing of a chemical product,

-- store chemicals in secured containers in well-ventilated areas according to instructions,

-- store incompatible materials away from each other,

-- keep flammable materials away from heat sources, and

-- avoid mixing incompatible cleaning products such as bleach with ammonia or chlorine with sulfuric acid.

* The number of hazardous-chemical releases occurring in homes is likely underestimated.

* Many of these events do not get reported to state environmental agencies or other notifying sources.

* ATSDR should pursue partnering with hospital emergency department staff to collect this information.

* ATSDR also should continue discussions with poison control centers about using them as a notification source.

This department, Practical Stuff! originated from you, our readers. Many of you have expressed to us that one of the main reasons you read the Journal of Environmental Health is to glean practical and useful information for your everyday work-related activities. In response to your feedback, we dedicate this section to you with salient points to remember about two to three articles in each issue.
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Title Annotation:Practical Stuff!
Publication:Journal of Environmental Health
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2004
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