Safer Alternatives to Hazardous Products
Hazardous Products in the Home
As a consumer, you may assume that a product is safe if it's offered for sale. Unfortunately, many household products contain hazardous ingredients that can be harmful when you use them or dispose of them improperly. By understanding what products are hazardous, how to handle them and what alternatives are available, you can make your home and our environment a healthier place.
Is it Hazardous? Read the Label
Read product labels and look for these signal words: danger, warning, or caution. These federally mandated words indicate the degree of immediate hazard posed by the product. Generally, danger indicates that a product is extremely hazardous. Warning or caution indicate products that are somewhat less hazardous. Products listing no signal words are usually the least hazardous.
A product is hazardous when it contains one or more of the following properties:
- Flammable/ combustible: Can easily be set on fire or ignited
- Explosive/ reactive: Can detonate or explode through exposure to heat, sudden shock, or pressure
- Corrosive/ caustic: Can burn and destroy living tissue
- Toxic/ poisonous: Capable of causing injury or death through ingestion, inhalation, or absorption
- Radioactive: Can damage and destroy cells and chromosomal material
Tips on Reducing the Hazards in our Home
- When shopping, evaluate your need for the products you buy. Don't fall prey to slick advertising and marketing.
- Buy only what you need and use it up completely to avoid generating waste.
- Never mix chemicals unless instructed to do so on the product label.
- Keep chemicals in original, labeled containers. Store away from the children, pets, and wildlife, in a dry secure location protected from harsh, damp weather.
- Never transfer hazardous products to food containers.
- If necessary, dispose of any leftover household hazardous waste at the HWMA Household Hazardous Waste Facility.
Safer Alternatives Guide
Use the chart below to identify safer alternatives to common household, automotive, and gardening products.
|Potential Hazard||Safer Alternative|
|Air freshener||Irritant, toxic|
(Never mix with chlorine bleach. Doing so produces a toxic vapor.)
|Corrosive, toxic, reactive|
(Never mix with ammonia products. Doing so produces a toxic vapor.)
|Corrosive, toxic, reactive|
|Drain cleaners||Irritant, corrosive|
|Paint, oil-based/stain/spray||Flammable, toxic, irritant|
|Paint strippers||Flammable, toxic, corrosive|
|Polishes/cleaners, metal||Irritant, flammable, toxic,|
|Polishes/waxes, wood furniture, and floors||Flammable, toxic, irritant|
|Rug/ carpet cleaners||Toxic, flammable, irritant|
|Stain/ spot removers||Flammable, toxic|
|Gasoline||Flammable, explosive, toxic|
|Motor oil||Flammable, toxic|
|Polishes/ cleaners/ waxes||Flammable, toxic, irritant|
|Fertilizers, chemical||Toxic, irritant|