Great article on the dangerous substances lurking in those kitchen cupboards at home. Especially important for mums and dads, since most of the victims of household poisons are children – 

Myriad substances in the household cupboards or garden shed are potentially hazardous if not used or stored according to directions. They include cleaning products, hair dyes, depilatory creams, nail hardeners, pesticides, paints, solvents, petroleum products and pool chemicals.

They can cause serious health problems such as burns, headaches, rash, dizziness, nausea or breathing difficulties, and some can be fatal if ingested. Breathing in toxic fumes or absorbing the chemicals through the skin from splashes or direct contact by failing to wear gloves or other protective clothing when necessary can also seriously harm your health.

The most recent annual report of the WA Poisons Information Centre, published in 2007, states there were 28,951 reported victims of poisoning that year. Children were the victims in 56 per cent of cases with toddlers (aged one to four years) making up 39 per cent of all reported poisonings. Adults were the victims in 39 per cent of cases, with many fewer cases in the neonate, adolescent and elderly age brackets. Two-thirds of all poisoning was by ingestion.

According to a booklet called Raising Awareness of Hazardous Substances, put out by Rural Solutions SA and funded by WorkCover Corporation, different parts of the body absorb substances at different rates. For example, compared with the forearm, substances are absorbed 12 times faster through the eyes, 3.7 times faster through the scalp, 4.2 forehead, 3.4 ear canal, 2.1 abdomen, 11.8 scrotal area, 1.3 palm and 1.6 foot.

Ann-Maree Lynch, head of the WA Poisons Information Centre, said the worst culprits in a home cupboard were probably the drain cleaners, which contained caustic soda (sodium hydroxide). “Drain cleaners are most dangerous if ingested and we do handle several cases a year where toddlers have ingested such products,” she said.

Click to read the full article.