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Either by accident or faulty manufacturing, household consumer products injure an estimated 33.1 million people in the United States every year [source: Consumer Product Safety Commission]. These incidents rack up an astonishing $800 billion in related expenses from death, injury or property damages [source: Consumer Product Safety Commission]. The Consumer Product Safety Commission that regulates and recalls products on the market emphasizes potential dangers to children in particular for hurting themselves with toys, furniture or other common items in the home.

1. Mothballs

Mothballs emit one of the most distinctive and unpleasant household scents. Since moths will chew holes through clothing or other textiles, people pack away these stinky repellents to kill any moths that attempt to. But as they convert from a solid to a gas, you do not want to inhale too much of it. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency even requires mothball manufacturers to include a warning on packaging to “avoid breathing in the vapors.”If you must use mothballs, put them in a sealed container in an area with separate ventilation from the rest of your house [source: EPA]. Also, wash any clothing that has been stored with mothballs before wearing it since the vapors will have absorbed into the fibers. For a safer, natural alternative, cedar chips should work as well.

2. Pesticides

According to the National Pesticide Telecommunications Network, 90 percent of households in the United States use some form of pesticides [source: NPTC]. Pesticide is a broad term that encompasses a variety of chemical formulas that kill everything from tiny microorganisms up to rodents. They could be insecticides, fungicides, disinfectants or other varieties. Because these are poisons, the U.S. EPA requires pesticide manufacturers to include the toxicity level of the product on its packaging. Since a majority of people’s exposure to pesticides happens indoors, be sure to ventilate any enclosed spaces after applying a pesticide and do not use unauthorized ones. If hiring a professional pest control service, ask them to review with you the chemicals they will use in your home before they spray.

3. Pressed Wood Products

If you catch a couple episodes of “The Brady Bunch,” you can see pressed wood paneling at the height of its splendor. This faux wood is like the hotdog of timber products, taking bits and pieces of logs and whatnot and combining them together. Pressed wood products also include particle board, fiberboard and insulation, which were particularly popular for home construction in the 1970s.However, the glue that holds the wood particles in place can cause a sticky situation for people. Some products use urea-formaldehyde as a resin, and the U.S. EPA estimates that this is the largest source of formaldehyde emissions indoors, which can increase as well in hotter, more humid conditions [source: EPA].

4. Chemicals in Carpet

Indoor carpeting has recently come under greater scrutiny because of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with new carpet installation. Although the popular floor covering isn’t inherently dangerous, people have reported health problems associated with it [source: EPA]. The glue and dyes used with carpeting are known to emit VOCs, which can be harmful to one’s health in high concentrations [source: Consumer Reports]. But often, the initial VOC emissions will subside after the first few days following installation.o be on the safe side, you can request your retailer to unroll the carpet and air it out a couple of days before bringing it in your home [source: EPA]. You should also keep the newly carpeted area well ventilated during installation to minimize VOC build up.

5. Laser Printers Chemicals

A 2007 study from the Queensland University of Technology in Australia found that some laser printers give off ultra fine particles that could cause serious health problems [source: He, Morawaska and Taplin]. Another study from the National Institute of Public Health also confirmed that laser and ink-jet printers can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and ozone particulates [source: Kagi et al].Tests so far have shown that concentrations of the released particles return to normal levels after a couple of minutes [source: CBC]. But depending on the size of the specks and exposure time, they have been linked with heart and lung disease [source: Davis]. For that reason, the biggest implication for this finding is in office settings, where someone may sit next to a printer.

6. Air Fresheners and Cleaning Solutions

Air fresheners and cleaning solutions freshen and sanitize our indoor habitats. However, a study by the University of California at Berkeley found that when used excessively or in a small, unventilated area, these products release toxic levels of pollutants. This comes from two main chemicals called ethylene-based glycol ethers and terpenes [source: Science Daily]. While the EPA regards the ethers as toxic by themselves, the non-toxic terpenes can react with ozone in the air to form a poisonous combination [source: ScienceDaily]. Air fresheners in particular are linked to many volatile organic compounds, such as nitrogen dioxide. Concentrations of this chemical are two to five times higher indoors than outdoors, which can cause cancer in some animals [source: EPA]. Some fresheners also contain paradichlorobenzene, the same chemical we discussed earlier with mothballs.