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Household cleansers contain dangerous ingredients

The “Tide Pod Challenge” that swept the Internet in January of this year is just one example of several potentially dangerous household products of which New Jersey residents should be aware. What may have started as a bad joke became something much scarier as teens took up the “challenge” to eat them in a video that went viral. Harmful ingredients in the soap include toxic polymers, hydrogen peroxide and ethane. For two toddlers and eight seniors with dementia, eating the packets has proved deadly.

In the space of one year, between 2013 and 2014, some 62,000 youths younger than six were exposed to both laundry and dish detergents. Consumer Reports pulled its endorsement of the packets due to the risks it posed and urged stronger safety measures be put in place.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has since worked with soap makers to make their laundry detergent packets less attractive, believing that toddlers and others mistook the brightly colored packets for candy. They have toned down the colors, made the packages opaque instead of see-through and reduced the strength and toxicity of the soaps, according to the CPSC.

But the risk remains for consumers who purchase these and other household products. House Beautiful names several additional hazards in items that many consumers buy on a regular basis. Here is a look at some types of cleaners and the harmful effects of their ingredients below.

  • Toilet bowl cleaner: Include corrosive ingredients that can burn eyes and skin
  • Furniture polish: Nitrobenzene and phenol may lead to skin cancer
  • Air fresheners: Reproductive health and hormones can be damaged by toxins that build up in the body
  • Oven cleaner: Inhaling corrosive alkalis can harm your respiratory system and gastrointestinal tract
  • Mothballs: Contain naphthalene, which can demolish red blood cells and causes cancer in animals

Consumers should also know that many products promoted as “natural” or “green” also contain harmful chemicals. Unfortunately, manufacturers are not required to list the ingredients on the labels of their cleaning products. It is up to you to research products before buying.

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