I used to always joke that cleaning was bad for my health – turns out it really can be!
Having the recent unpleasant task of performing a rigorous final clean of my rental I was hit by a truck. Well not quite a truck, but it certainly felt like it. About 15 minutes into scrubbing the nooks and crannies of the bathroom using the ‘Exit Mould’ cleaner it hit me. After stopping the task (didn’t need to ask me twice!) and grabbing some water and fresh air it dawned on me – here I was, a safety professional, using a hazardous product in an enclosed environment with only a half-opened window and an (ineffective) ceiling fan.
This is a commonly accessible cleaning product available from the supermarket and often stored in readily accessible cupboards. Yet on further inspection of the ‘Exit Mould’ Safety Data Sheet (Reckitt Benckiser (Australia), 2016) this is a Corrosive, Dangerous Goods chemical, that causes “Major Health Hazards” including severe skins burns, eye damage and was recommended to be stored in a locked container. And there I was, using the chemical in close proximity to my skin and face trying to get the cleaning done as fast as possible…
Easily available at the supermarket, but hazardous if used incorrectly.
As someone who tries to learn from their (many) mistakes, I’m hoping you can learn from mine too. Whilst there may be the assumption that these everyday household items are relatively safe, they may actually be quite harmful, especially if used incorrectly.
Look up a chemical’s MSDS online and have a brief read of the key sections (such as ‘Handling and Storage’) at least once before using a chemical for the first time. Also check the product’s storage recommendations, especially if young children are in the house, whilst also keeping the Poisons Information Line (13 11 26) handy just in case.
Hopefully you can then avoid being hit by a truck when cleaning your house.
Written by Robert Dival
Reckitt Benckiser (Australia) Pty Limited. (2016). Safety Data Sheet. Product Name: Exit Mould. Retrieved from http://rb-msds.com.au/uploadedFiles/pdf/Exit%20Mould-Pronto-v1.1-D8256179.pdf