Monthly Archives: September 2017

Is There A Silent Killer In Your Home? – The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

As winter approaches, you might go out and buy a new coat, stock up on blankets, get your hot water bottle ready and look forward to sipping hot chocolates as you prepare for the cold months.

But do you check that your gas heating system is working correctly?

Commonly a faulty gas heating system is to blame for leaking carbon monoxide in the home with detrimental consequences. Carbon monoxide fumes may go completely undetected due to the gas being odourless, tasteless and colourless; so, when you crank up the heating on those cold nights, silent leaking fumes may cause you to lose consciousness and it’s too late.

It is likely that carbon monoxide already exists in your home in harmless small amounts occurring from the use of a stove top, barbeque, fireplace and even the family car. However, it is when a build-up of carbon monoxide occurs that the high concentration of toxic gas in an enclosed space can be fatal. Carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to long term health complications with organ failure, brain damage or accidental death. Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include vomiting, poor concentration, dizziness and nausea.

Carbon monoxide poisoning within the home can be avoided by completing some simple steps:

  • Installation of carbon monoxide detectors will help to detect the fumes that you can’t otherwise see or smell. An alarm will sound when carbon monoxide is detected at high levels and it is important to evacuate everyone from the home immediately.
  • Have your gas heating system checked by a licenced gas fitter or plumber every two years to inspect and service the system.
  • Clean and unblock the flu or chimney of your fireplace every year.
  • Check all other potential sources of carbon monoxide in your home and ensure they are all working correctly

A gas heating system can be replaced, but your family can’t be. Act now before it’s too late.

Are Spot-on Flea Treatments safe for Humans?

If you’re like me, you hate seeing your pet suffer the pain and discomfort of fleas, not to mention the fact that they bite humans too! Many vets (including the telegenic TV ones) recommend spot-on treatments sold at vet practices or veterinary specialist stores. Spot-on treatments are also widely promoted on social media so the provision of sound safety information on these platforms is of paramount importance.
I decided to road test Advantage which is a popular brand (and the one I use on my cats). Advantage contains Imidacloprid and benzyl alcohol and is classified as a hazardous substance and a dangerous good when transported by sea or air.

Flea treatments

The Safety Data Sheet indicates that Imidacloprid is harmful if inhaled or swallowed and may be irritating to the eyes. However, the instruction leaflet in the Advantage packaging does not advise that protective gloves need to be worn “under normal conditions of use” which is presumed to mean for its domestic use. The labelling contains a caution to keep out of reach of children, to read safety directions and warns that it is “for animal treatment only”.
Applying Advantage is a fiddly business given the small size of the tube and the difficulty in simultaneously holding the cat still, parting the fur to find a small patch of skin and deftly squeezing the liquid contents onto her neck. It’s quite difficult to avoid getting the product on your fingers. It is therefore extremely important to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after use.
The liquid is viscous. You often notice that the patch of fur around the squeeze site becomes damp and remains like this for some time. It may therefore be advisable to apply the product when children are out of the house or asleep. I often find myself needing to wash my hands several times after applying the product.

Care is needed in disposing of Advantage as it is classified as an environmentally hazardous substance.

P-phenylenediamine PPD

P-phenylenediamine or PPD is a chemical component found in many hair dyes that are used both in salons and for home use. These hair dyes usually come in two bottles, one containing the PPD dye and the other containing the developer or oxidizer.
PPD is a known skin sensitizer and has been found to cause many severe allergic reactions including redness, rashes, sores, burning sensations, itching and headaches. There have also been some rare cases of permanent hair loss and one case of death due to a severe allergic reaction following exposure. This chemical may also be a possible carcinogen after oxidisidisation increasing the possibility of developing certain types of cancer.

According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the best ways to avoid exposure are:
• Avoid dying your hair all together
• Reading Labels and looking for the following chemical names: p-phenylenediamine, para-phenylenediamine, 4-aminoaniline; 1,4-benzenediamine; p-diaminobenzene;1,4-diaminobenzene; 1,4-phenylene diamine
• Salon workers who are exposed hair dyes on a regular basis should wear protective gear, including gloves and protective wear on the face.

By Sarah Newcombe


Berriedale-Johnson, M. (2017). The dangers of PPD (paraphenylenediamine) hair dye. [online] Michelle’s blog. Available at: [Accessed 24 Aug. 2017].

David Suzuki Foundation. (2017). Coal Tar Dyes. [online] Available at:—coal-tar-dyes/ [Accessed 24 Aug. 2017].

Safe Cosmetics. (2017). P-Phenylenediamine – Safe Cosmetics. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Aug. 2017].

York, A. (2017). Social Media Demographics to Inform a Better Segmentation Strategy. [online] Sprout Social. Available at: [Accessed 24 Aug. 2017].

Methyl Methacrylate

Methyl Methacrylate is a colourless and volatile liquid, having a strong fruity odour. Most often, it is used to form a polymer known as poly-methyl methacrylate (PMMA) that is widely used in manufacturing crowns, bridges, acrylic dentures, and other dental products (Leggat & Kedjarune, 2003).

Dental laboratory technicians work directly by handling this monomer while manufacturing dental products. They could absorb this directly through their skin or by inhaling this volatile chemical that spreads throughout in dental premises (Gosavi et al., 2010).

There is evidence of reported adverse health effects from Methyl Methacrylate, that leads to crucial acute and chronic symptoms.

Skin: increased skin sensitivity and rash.
Eyes: increased irritation, and redness
Buccal mucosa: allergic reactions – inflammation, irritation, burning sensation; changed properties of saliva, and presence of micro-organisms in mouth.
Tightness in chest, wheezing, cough, occupational asthma (due to particles in air) and shortness of breath.
Numbness, pain, and pallor (whitening of fingers), headache, lack of concentration, and lethargy.
Cardiovascular effects: Palpitations, chest discomfort, etc.
Nasal symptoms
Reduced lung function
Carcinogenicity (still unclear)

(Leggat & Kedjarune, 2003; Gosavi et al., 2010; Ivkovic et al., 2013; Ataolah & Andre, 1998).

Methyl Methacrylate


Shield with trimming to protect from fumes

Risk control measures are:
1. Pre-screening at-risk employees by taking history of systemic diseases.
2. Optimum ventilation in laboratory rooms. Using high-performance air purification systems, which could be practicable.
3. Usage of air cleaning solutions, containing charcoals that absorbs chemical compounds from air and minimize its levels.
4. Methyl Methacrylate is subject to control by COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) regulations. The Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL) is:
• Long-term (8 hour) exposure = 50 parts per million (ppm)
• Short-term exposure = 100 ppm.
5. Methyl Methacrylate tends to settle at ground level (being heavier than air). The laboratory control systems to monitor its saturation should be in workplace.
(Leggat & Kedjarune, 2003; Gosavi et al., 2010; Ivkovic et al., 2013; Ataolah & Andre, 1998).

Posted by Kundan Andre

Ataolah, N.A. and Andre, D. (1998). Chemical Hazards in Dental Laboratories. Indoor Built Environ, 7, 146–155. doi:10.1159/000024575
Gosavi, S.S., Gosavi, S.Y., and Alla, R.K. (2010). Local and systemic effects of unpolymerised monomer. Dental Research Journal, 7(2), 82-87.
Ivkovic, N., Bozovic, D., Ristic, S., Mirjanic, V., and Jankovic, O. (2013). The residual monomer in dental acrylic resin and its adverse effects. Contemporary Materials, IV (1), 84-91. doi: 10.7251/COMEN1301084I.
Leggat, P.A. and Kedjarune, U. (2003). Toxicity of methyl methacrylate in dentistry. International Dental Journal, 53(3); 126 -131. doi:10.1111/j.1875-595X.2003.tb00736.x

Acutely toxic if swallowed! Shown to cause allergic skin reactions! Hazard! Reproductive Toxicant! Acute Aquatic Hazard!

What is this product that is used by equestrian centre staff and horse owners?
Worming Paste!

That’s right. Worming pastes contain different chemicals that are harmful in a variety of doses. Controlling parasites with these products is essential for your horses stay happy and healthy. To ensure safe usage you need to keep you and your staff informed of and manage the risks.

So How Do I Do That?
• Firstly, familiarise all staff with the “Handling Chemicals in the Workplace Guide” published by WorkSafe Victoria. This can be found at:

• Only use products in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.

• Create a record of all worming pastes in stock and store safely and securely.

• Read the Safety Data Sheet (SDS). Every worming paste will have a Safety Data Sheet which contains important information regarding the product you are using. These can be found at on the manufacturer’s web site.

• Ensure you have the latest version of the SDS on site. SDS are required to be updated every five years – check the date on the SDS to ensure it is current.

• Ensure everyone who handles the product is aware of where the Safety Data Sheet is located. Make sure you have a copy stored with the product as a well as electronic versions on file and in your first aid kit.

• Make sure that everyone understands the SDS – this may mean sitting down with staff and having a chat to confirm their understanding.

• Ensure that only authorised and trained staff use these products.

• Document the staff who administer the product and ensure that their training and knowledge is up to date. They need to know how to handle and administer the product according to the SDS and manufacturer’s instructions.
• Dispose of the used packaging according to the SDS and manufacturer’s instructions.

Happy (and Safe) Worming!

Posted by Edwina Boase-Stratford


A Step by Step Guide for Managing Chemicals in the Workplace. (2017). Retrieved 17 August 2017, from

AMMO® Rotational Wormer / Products list / Products / Ceva Australia. (2016). Ceva Australia. Retrieved 17 August 2017, from

Equimax Elevation SDS. (2016). Retrieved 17 August 2017, from

Independents Own Equi Duo Liquid Broad Spectrum Wormer and Boticide for Horses Safety Data Sheet. (2016). Retrieved 17 August 2017, from

Model Code of Practice: Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace. (2012). Safe Work Australia. Retrieved 17 August 2017, from

Promectin Plus Mini Allwormer Paste. (2016). Retrieved 21 August 2017, from

Razor Equine Wormer SDS. (2016). Retrieved 24 August 2017, from…/files/pdf/SDS/horse-owner/Razor-SDS.pdf

Strategy – T Oral Broad Spectrum Worm Paste for Horses Safety Data Sheet. (2016). Retrieved 17 August 2017, from…/pdf/SDS/horse-owner/StrategyT-SDS.pdf

Formaldehyde in personal care products

Formaldehyde is widely present in environment, within human bodies and in several consumables. In the environment, it is emitted from various manufacturing industries (clothing, resins, etc.), via bush fires. Also, produced by human body but in traces and harmless quantity, which is metabolized by our body. Its presence in consumables items (personal care items) as a preservative, is of concern because it’s in our hands to limit its use. Skin absorbs some amounts of formaldehyde present in  products like shampoos, conditioners, talcum powders, lotions etc. (Government of South Australia, 2017).

This blog post is to increase awareness for the household buyers who get unintentionally exposed to formaldehyde via personal care products which are used on the bare skin. The Government of South Australia (2017) states that several evidence-based studies have shown that high doses and longer duration of exposure to formaldehyde can cause cancer in human beings. Exposure due to environmental or natural sources is unavoidable but efforts can be made to avoid unnecessary formaldehyde content in our daily care products.

Effects of Formaldehyde

1) Sensory irritation: It causes burning and itching sensations, involving eyes, nose, throat, and upper respiratory tract.
2) Skin contact: Can cause dermatitis. People sensitive to formaldehyde can notice the symptoms even if exposed to smaller amounts (even at 0.003%) of formaldehyde. Generally, 1%-2 % of formaldehyde in products can cause skin irritation.

Posted by Jasmeen Kaur

Pet owners beware

Rat and mice baits are so readily available to consumers that you no longer need a professional exterminator to handle a pesky rodent problems. A trip to the supermarket provides you with all the ammunition necessary to handle the problem at hand. Unfortunately easy accessibility can lead to complacency in the home, as users do not fully acknowledge that the products they are using can be dangerous if handled incorrectly.

Rat and mice baits are a schedule 5 poison, meaning to humans there is a low potential for harm (Safe Work Australia, 2015) as long as you follow the safety instructions. The effect is proportional to the weight of the effected individual, with adults needing to ingest massive quantities to note a significant effect, while smaller quantities are lethal to a cat or mouse. Ingredients such as bittering agents and colouring are added to prevent human ingestion but some of our fury friends, dogs in particular, will eat anything and what cat wouldn’t chase a mouse, who unbeknown to them, has already ingested deadly poison.


NOTE: No dogs where harmed in the making of this blog – she was just fed multiple treats laced with harmless food dye to make her tongue blue 🙂

There are ways to minimise risk to your four legged companions:

– Consider bait placement and storage. Make sure your pet is unable to reach the baits and that rodents cant move them to a space they can access.
– Keep well away from pet food or treats and avoid storing in the same location.
– The products can be a skin and eye irritant so wear gloves during placement and make sure to wash your hands prior to petting your animal. Do not store in the same location as spare pet bedding.
– The lethal dose for 50% of cats and dogs is 3mg/kg for most baits. Consider this when placing bates and storage and limit how much you store in a domestic setting. Only purchase what you need.
– Make sure to clean up decided rodents with the same safety precautions you placed the baits.

If you handle the product in accordance to the label your whole house hold will be safe but if you think your pet has been exposed to rodent poison seek professional help immediately.

Posted by Meghan Wood


 Safe Work Australia. (2015). Labelling of workplace hazardous chemicals code of practice. Retrieved from

 Yates. (2012). Safety Data Sheet Ratsak Professional Pellets. Retrieved from

Washing powder – Squeaky Clean or Bubble Trouble?

All the dirt on washing powders

If you work in disability services, you may have had cause to wonder how safe your laundry chemicals are.  The chances of washing powder being eaten are significantly higher in this environment than most.
Let’s have a quick look at the facts.

One popular supermarket washing powder is classified as a hazardous chemical and a corrosive.  It’s harmful if swallowed, harmful if inhaled.  The container should be tightly closed, locked up, in a well ventilated place.  It needs to be in a tightly closed container… although it comes in a cardboard box….And locked up? Is yours?
Another popular powder is also classified as hazardous, but not corrosive. It only needed to be kept away from foodstuffs, according to the Safety Data Sheet.

A look at the Safety Data Sheet for a “no nasty chemicals” brand, available in specialty stores only, shows that it is also classified as hazardous, but not corrosive.  The product may be mildly irritating if inhaled and may irritate the skin. It is also a severe eye irritant and would irritate orally. A supermarket brand focusing on environmental safety stated it would irritate the eyes, mouth and throat, but was not a severe irritant.

There was no significant difference between the fancy “no nasty chemicals” brand and the supermarket environmentally safe brand. Within the typical supermarket brands, some are nastier than others, and some are not significantly different from “no nasties” brands in terms of potential harm to a person.
What does this mean for a residential care home?
The hip pocket will need to be considered as some “no nasties” powders are pricey.  Alternatively, you could read the safety data sheets, and whichever powder you choose, store it safely.

Posted by Sarah Donehue


Abode (2016) Laundry Powder Safety Data Sheet. Retrieved from

Aldi  (2015) Trimat Advanced Concentrate Safety Data Sheet. Retrieved from

Coles (2016) Ultra Laundry Powder Concentrate Top Loader Front Loader SDS retrieved from

Nature’s Organics (2017) Earth Choice Laundry Powder MSDS
Retrieved from

Surf Australia (2014) Surf 2in1 Concentrate Powder MSDS retrieved from

Wood Heaters Causing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Wood fire heaters, the perfect idea on a cold winters night for you and your family? It seems perfect when you’re enjoying family time all cosy and warm in your living room, indeed. In actuality, it’s not as perfect as it seems.

When using a wood fire heater, a number of particles and gases are released which are actually considered air pollutants, including mainly but not limited to fine particles and carbon monoxide. The wood smoke can also emit formaldehyde, benzene, nitrogen oxides, polyromantic hydrocarbons and butadiene.

Carbon monoxide (CO) being the main concern as it is said to be a silent killer. This is because it is not at all detectable by humans as it is completely colourless, odourless and tasteless. If the levels of CO are to rise because of wood fire, individuals living in the home are at a high risk of getting carbon monoxide poisoning (Product Safety Australia, 2015)

Depending on the level of exposure to CO, an individual may have different symptoms and health risks. Trouble in concentration is a common symptom for a smaller increase in CO levels. If the exposure levels get to a more moderate level, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, chest pain or headaches may occur. If the level of CO exposure is quite high there can be extreme health effects such as permanent damage to the brain or heart, which could be fatal (Better Health, 2015).

It is vital to ensure the safety of the members of your household’s health if you are wanting to use your wood fire heaters on these cold winter nights. In order to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, you need to make sure the chimney is always properly and regularly cleaned. An easy way to prevent the build-up of carbon monoxide in the house is to keep the house ventilated, by allowing fresh air to come in and out. Especially if there are not any vents in the room, it is vital to have a window or door open at least slightly.

So to all the wood fire heater owners out there, regardless of how cold you are, let’s be safe rather than sorry.

Carbon monoxide safety. (2015). Product Safety Australia. Retrieved 21 August 2017, from

Wood fires and breathing problems. (2015). Better Health Channel. Retrieved 23 August 2017, from

Posted by Leyla Handricks

Have you ever considered acupuncture or dry needling?

If so, have you thought about the possible exposure of chemicals and consequential health outcomes?

Within Australia, The Therapeutic Goods Administration regulates acupuncture needles into Class IIa medical devices in contrast to Class I, ranked the lowest risk available. Acupuncture is commonly performed in Traditional Chinese Medicine; however complementary medicine practitioners also utilize acupuncture needles for dry needling. Complementary medicine has become widely utilized within Australia with 32.3 million consultations over a 12 month period. (Xue, Zhang, Lin, Myers, Polus & Story 2008).

So what are the possible risks and consequences?
An Australian study reported (Xie, Xu, Zhang & Xue, 2014). “Significant irregularities and inconsistencies in acupuncture needle surfaces”, reporting defective tips, metal lump fragments which disappeared after insertion, contaminants such as silicone gel, oil, chromium, copper, ferrous and nickel were also detected, thereby implicating systemic contact dermatitis in susceptible or unsuspecting patients. (Yoko & Tadamichi, 2012). Findings related to silicone contamination, needle coverings have been implicated in the development of epithelioid granuloma. (Yanagihara, Fujii, Wakamatu, Ishizaki, Takehara & Nawate, 2000).
Pre-packaged, single-use, disposable acupuncture needles are commonly sterilized using Ethylene-oxide gas (EO). Regrettably (EO) has also been identified as a skin sensitizer further predisposing allergic reaction. The negative reports and study findings may reflect the patient experience (Macpherson & Thomas 2005), “pain and bruising at the site of needling in 29.7% of patients”.
Further safety, quality and performance control of acupuncture needles as a medical device has been suggested in the worldwide literature. (Xie, Xu, Zhang & Xue, 2014). Increasing practitioner and public awareness into the research will enable practitioners to report defective devices and adverse patient events, guiding safe informed practice whilst upholding patient safety.

Xue, C., Zhang, A., Lin, V., Myers, R., Polus, B., & Story, D. (2008). Acupuncture, chiropractic and osteopathy use in Australia: A national population survey. BMC Public Health, 8(1), 105-105.
Xie, Y., Xu, S., Zhang, C., & Xue, C. (2014). Examination of surface conditions and other physical properties of commonly used stainless steel acupuncture needles. Acupuncture in Medicine, 32(2), 146.
Yoko Yoshihisa, & Tadamichi Shimizu. (2012). Metal Allergy and Systemic Contact Dermatitis: An Overview. Dermatology Research and Practice, 2012, Dermatology Research and Practice, 01 January 2012, Vol.2012.
Macpherson, H., & Thomas, K. (2005). Short term reactions to acupuncture – a cross-sectional survey of patient reports. Acupuncture in Medicine, 23(3), 112-120.
Yanagihara, M., Fujii, T., Wakamatu, N., Ishizaki, H., Takehara, T., & Nawate, K. (2000). Silicone granuloma on the entry points of acupuncture, venepuncture and surgical needles. Journal of Cutaneous Pathology, 27(6), 301-305.
Hayhoe, S., Mccrossan, Smith, Ellis, Croft, & Mei. (2002). Single-use acupuncture needles: Scanning electron-microscopy of needle-tips. Acupuncture in Medicine, 20(1), 11-8.
Ethylene oxide: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Retrieved from:
Images: Taken by Andrea Ormazabal, 2017.
Written by – Andrea Ormazabal