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Chemicals

Simple actions that an individual or household can take to reduce their exposure to household chemicals:

  • Many chemicals commonly used around the home are toxic. Try to select less-toxic alternatives or use non-toxic, or even natural substitutes wherever possible.
  • Only buy chemical products (including pesticides and cleaning products) in the amounts that you expect to use
  • Use products without chemicals in them when you can. You can use a plunger to unclog your sink, clean with baking soda or vinegar.
  • Read the label before you purchase or use a product. Products labeled DANGER, FLAMMABLE, POISON, VAPOR HARMFUL, or FATAL IF SWALLOWED may damage the environment as well as your health and cause problems if used, stored, or disposed of improperly.
  • Use gloves whenever handling chemicals
  • When using chemicals follow directions for proper use, storage, and disposal
  • Don’t keep leaking or damaged containers of household chemicals
  • Don’t mix chemical products together – they may react
  • Never use any chemical that comes out of a container without a label on it
  • If you are interrupted while using household chemicals properly reclose the container and remove it from children’s reach
  • Always use household products in child-resistant packaging
  • When it comes to chemicals store powders, granules and dusts above liquids, as this eliminates the chance of liquid leaking onto soluble materials, resulting in possible reactions
  • Always store toxic household chemicals away from heat or sparks, and in a safe place, in a locked cabinet out of children’s reach
  • If applying insect repellents to children, read all directions first; do not apply over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin; do not apply to eyes, mouth, hands, or directly on the face; and use just enough to cover exposed skin. Double check that the insect repellent may be applied directly to the skin and that it is suitable for children under 3 years of age.
  • Use low-phosphate or phosphate-free detergents to prevent polluting our sea - creating algae blooms and starving fish of oxygen
  • Use water-based and biodegradable products whenever possible
  • Always store chemicals in the container they came in, don’t remove its label, and never use the container to store something else when the original product is finished
  • Follow the directions on the product’s label; never use more than the label says to use, and never mix two products together unless directed. If mixing is required, do this outdoors or in a well ventilated place. 
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables well
  • Limit the pesticides you use on your own vegetable garden, or possibly go organic and use none at all
  • Do not indiscriminately spray pesticides, either indoors or outdoors, where a pest problem has not been identified
  • Try to do without pesticides to get rid of pests. For example: get rid of the food or water that attracts pests; frequently clean places where pests breed and hide; use traps instead of pesticides; or pull weeds.
  • Prior to purchasing pesticides, check that the product is effective in controlling the individual pest, disease or weed you intend to treat
  • Make sure children and pets are not around when using products such as pesticides. Keep children and pets away until the pesticide or chemical has dried or for as long as is recommended on the label.
  • Wash your hands after handling any chemicals such as pesticides. Remove your clothes right after you use them and wash them in hot, soapy water apart from other clothes.
  • Never pour products such as pesticides, medicines, thinners etc. down the sink, into the toilet, or pour them on the ground or into household waste. Dispose of them in their sealed containers in Civic Amenity Sites.
  • In the case of an emergency, such as if a chemical is ingested, call 112 for assistance and take the container of the ingested chemical with you to the emergency department
  • Empty pesticide and weedkiller containers which have held concentrated liquids should be rinsed three times, adding the washings to the final spray solution. The empty container can then be placed in the household waste.
  • Empty pesticide and weedkiller containers that have held Ready-to-Use products before disposing of directly with the household waste
  • When taking unwanted chemicals to a civic amenity site for disposal, ensure that containers are carefully sealed and clearly labelled with the name and active ingredient of the product
  • Lead acid batteries and fluorescent tubes are considered to be chemical waste that is always hazardous, and needs to be treated, disposed of, or recycled, safely – Take them to civic amenity sites
  • When diluting chemical concentrates, avoid making excess solution – make less than you believe is required – it’s easier to make more than dispose of surplus