Carcinogens At Home
From the Cancer
Prevention Coalition and the "Safe Shoppers Bible" by Dr.
Samuel S. Epstein and Dr. David Steinman, 1995
According to a National Academy of Sciences workshop, approximately
15 percent of the American population suffer from chemical
sensitivity. Researchers have traced this increased sensitivity to the
proliferation of synthetic chemicals in consumer products and
According to the EPA, indoor air pollution is one of the nation's
most pressing personal health concerns. Peak concentrations of 20
toxic compounds - some linked with cancer and birth defects - were 200
to 500 times higher inside some homes than outdoors, according to a
5-year EPA study that surveyed 600 homes in six cities.*
Residues of more than 400 toxic chemicals - some found in household
products and foods - have been identified in human blood and fat
Symptoms such as runny nose, itchy eyes, a scratchy throat,
headaches, fatigue, dizziness, skin rash, and respiratory infections
are all common reactions to indoor air pollution. Left untreated,
long-term exposure to indoor pollution can result in lung cancer, or
damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system.
Young children are especially vulnerable to impaired lung function and
The risk for leukemia increases by four to seven times for
children, ages 10 and under, whose parents use home or garden
The risk of childhood brain cancer is associated with the use of
pesticide "bombs" in the home, pesticides to control
termites, flea collars on pets, insecticides in the garden or orchard,
and herbicides to control weeds in the yard, including exposure to two
common pesticides available in garden shops - carbaryl and diazinon.*
In 1990, more than 4,000 toddlers under age four were admitted to
hospital emergency rooms as a result of household cleaner-related
injuries. That same year, 18,000 pesticide-related hospital emergency
room admissions were reported with almost three-fourths for children
age fourteen and under.*
Metylene chloride, the propellant used in many aerosol products, is
carcinogenic. Some products containing methylene chloride have been
pulled from the market, but the carcinogen continues to be found in
many consumer products such as spray paint and stripper.*
Not a single cosmetic company warns consumers of the presence of
carcinogens in its products - despite the fact that a number of common
cosmetic ingredients are carcinogenic or carcinogenic precursors.*
Some experts estimate that 20 percent of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
cases among women are attributable to their use of hair dyes.
Safety Guidelines For Avoiding Carcinogens
Read all labels carefully before using products. Be aware of their
uses and dangers.
Leave products in their original container with the label that
clearly identifies the contents.
Never put household products in food or beverage containers.
Do not mix products unless the label directs you to do so. This
can cause explosive or poisonous chemical reactions. Even
different brands of the same product may contain incompatible
Use only what is needed. Twice as much doesn't mean twice the
results. Follow the label.
If pregnant, avoid toxic chemical exposure as much as possible.
Many toxic products have not been fully tested for
their effects on the unborn.
Use products in well-ventilated areas to avoid inhaling fumes.
Open windows and use an exhaust fan, making sure air is exiting
outside rather than being recirculated indoors. Take plenty of
fresh air breaks. Be sure to use adequate skin,
eye, and respirator protection.
Do not eat, drink, or smoke while using hazardous products.
Traces of hazardous chemicals can be carried from hand to mouth.
Smoking can start a fire if the products are flammable.
Clean up after using hazardous products. Carefully seal
Cancer Prevention Coalition c/o School of Public
University of Illinois Medical Center
2121 West Taylor Street,
Chicago, IL 60612,Tel: (312) 996-2297, Fax: (312) 996-1374