Household Chemicals

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Household Chemicals
Household Chemicals
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Household chemicals

Chemicals are ubiquitous in the home or office. They ensure cleanliness, pleasant smells, make everyday life easier or beautify our home. These include dishwashing detergents, washing powder, stain removers, decalcifying agents, mold stoppers, adhesives, wood preservatives, pesticides, swimming pool

chemicals, de-icing agents, etc. Some chemicals used are toxic, corrosive, highly flammable or have other dangerous properties for human health or the environment. In principle, chemicals should therefore be used carefully and sparingly in the home and at work in order to minimize health risks and environmental pollution.


  • Continue reading
  • more on the subject
  • Advice, downloads & tools
  • Acute health risks from household chemicals
  • Recognize dangerous chemicals
  • How can I protect myself from the dangers of chemicals?
  • Info & brochures

Acute health risks from household chemicals

Examples of health hazards from chemicals in the household are:

  • Damage to the respiratory system: Sanitary cleaners, drain cleaners or anti-mold agents can contain sodium hypochlorite; it is also known as active chlorine or bleach. If used improperly, chlorine gas can be generated which, if inhaled, causes damage to the lungs or airways.
  • Skin irritation: Cement and lime in construction chemicals (e.g. filler, wall paint, mortar, plaster) are irritating or corrosive. It is therefore necessary to protect the skin (e.g. with gloves, work clothing) and the eyes (glasses) in order to avoid acute skin irritation.
  • Allergies: Certain fragrances, e.g. in cosmetics, detergents and cleaning agents, can trigger allergies (rashes, itching). There are currently 26 known allergenic substances. If a product contains more than 0.01 percent of an allergenic substance (based on weight), this must be stated on the packaging.

Household chemicals can pollute the air as dust particles in closed rooms and cause adverse health effects as an undesirable side effect. They can also get into the environment via sewage, for example, and be deposited there. Therefore, dangerous chemicals should be used as sparingly as possible. Power cleaners use stronger formulas than the milder all-purpose cleaners. The risks to health and the environment from improper use are therefore also higher than with mild cleaning agents.

Recognize dangerous chemicals

Possible dangers that may arise during use and storage of the product must be described on the packaging and the label. Hazard pictograms provide assistance in the correct handling of chemicals.

Further information can be found in the brochure Chemistry in the Household of Environmental Consulting.

How can I protect myself from the dangers of chemicals?

The following tips are designed to help you avoid the health risks posed by dangerous chemicals in products.

Product purchase

  • When purchasing products, eco-labels help you make a healthy choice, for example the Austrian eco-label, the German “Blue Angel” eco-label or the EU eco-label (Ecolabel).
  • The product labeling (ingredients, hazard warnings) contains important information about possible hazardous chemicals and the correct use of the product.
  • Use your right to information about products.

Hygiene, cleaning and cleaning

  • Use household chemicals carefully and with moderation. Follow the instructions for use exactly.
  • Thorough cleaning in the household is also possible without a lot of chemicals.
  • Use biocidal products (agents for pest control) as little as possible.
  • Avoid using antibacterial household chemicals if possible. Do not use disinfectants unnecessarily.
  • Tips for the responsible use of detergents, cleaning and care products can be found on the website (an initiative of the international association of manufacturers of detergents, care products and cleaning agents and the European chemical association).

Indoor climate

  • Chemicals that are harmful to health can escape from products over time and pollute the indoor climate.
  • When buying floor coverings, wallpapers, varnishes or emulsion paints, the product should contain as few plasticizers (phthalates) as possible.
  • In the case of home textiles and carpets, a water- and dirt-repellent impregnation or coating can contain chemicals that are harmful to health.
  • Dangerous fine dust can arise indoors, e.g. from smoking, scented candles or other pollutant particles. Here you can find out how to keep the indoor climate unencumbered.

Safe handling of chemicals

  • Hazard pictograms on the product packaging indicate possible dangers. Particularly careful handling is indicated!
  • Chemicals, paints, varnishes, cleaning agents, etc. that are no longer required are best removed from the household and given to a hazardous substance collection point.
  • Chemicals can cause injury. In emergencies, contact the Poison Information Center (VIZ) emergency telephone number: +43 1 406 43 43, in life-threatening emergencies call the ambulance 144. Here you will find information on emergencies involving poisoning of children and poisoning of adults.

Note For a description of the most important chemicals that can be hazardous to health, see Chemistry in products.

Info & brochures

The following organizations offer useful information for health and environmentally conscious purchasing decisions and safety tips on everything to do with chemicals:

  • "Die Umweltberatung": Brochures on the following topics can be obtained from or downloaded from Umweltberatung:

    • Chemistry in the household
    • Ants, moths & Co
    • Homemade? Yes, but ecological! Tips for environmentally friendly home improvement
    • Old dangers - new signs! Identification of chemical products
  • Association for Consumer Information (VKI): magazine “Konsument
  • REACH Helpdesk: Information for consumers

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