Toxic means that it is potentially poisonous if
eaten, breathed, or absorbed through the skin. Examples include pesticides
Corrosive means that it can burn or destroy other
materials including living tissue. Examples include toilet bowl cleaner
and Photographic fixer solution.
Reactive means that it can react with other substances
to create fumes, heat, or explosion. Some examples include fertilizers
and pool chemicals.
Explosive means that it can explode with exposure
to heat or pressure. Some examples include pressurized propane cylinders
and old ammunition.
Flammable/Ignitable means that it can be easily
set on fire or has a low flashpoint. Some examples are old gasoline
and nail polish remover.
Key Signal Words
In addition to hazardous characteristics, labels
will contain signal words. These signal words range in scale from
the most harmful (danger) to the least harmful (warning). The signal
words are used to alert consumers of the hazard level of each product.
By using this information, consumers can purchase the least hazardous
product. Below is a description of these signal words, and the lethal
dose for each according to the EPA.
Danger/poison is the highest degree of the signal words. Some are
considered very dangerous because their lethal dose is only a few
drops to one teaspoon.
Caution is not as harmful as dangerous but a lethal
dose is one teaspoon to one ounce.
Warning is the least harmful but still has potential
to cause harm. A lethal dose is one ounce to 2 cups.
Things to Remember:
- Read the label first. All household hazardous
products will have a label that will identify any of the potential
hazards, and will give proper storage and disposal instructions. In
addition, the following important information will appear on every
• How to use a product safely and effectively
• How to store the product safely
• First aid instructions
• Phone numbers to call for help or more information
- Household hazardous products are dangerous even
though they can be purchased at most stores.
- Improper use, storage, or disposal could have
detrimental effects on your health and the environment.
- Whenever possible buy alternative non-toxic products,
which are safer, effective, affordable, and readily available.