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HOUSEHOLD HAZARDS


INTRODUCTION:

The students will learn about hazardous household products with the following questions in mind:

  • How can dangerous products in your home have an impact on your physical health?
  • What do we know about such dangers and what are our consumer rights?
  • What is the environmental impact of these products on a local and global level?
  • Is there a lack of corporate responsibility when it comes to household hazards?

The students will also create different "plans of action" and learn about alternatives to the hazardous household products that we are exposed to every day.

 

CRITICAL DISCUSSION:

The instructor should post the following questions to the students.

  • How do dangerous products in your home have an impact on your physical health?
  • What do we know about such dangers and what are our consumer rights?
  • What is the environmental impact of these products in the community and for the earth?
  • Is there a lack of corporate responsibility when it comes to household hazards?

Clarify terms like: household hazards, consumer rights, environmental impact, etc.

Then the instructor can continue with the following questions, or small groups of students can be responsible for reading the question to the class and facilitating the answer period on the board. If the second option is chosen, copy each question on notecards and the student groups can have time to read and thoroughly comprehend the question before presenting and facilitating.

  • What household products do you use (including garage and garden)?
  • Are any of these products dangerous to your health (for example: if you ingest it, if it gets on your skin or into your eyes, or from smelling the fumes)?
  • Have you or your family experienced any accidental poisoning in your home (for example: nausea dizziness, vomiting, coughing, blacking out, getting light headed, rashes or sores)?
  • Are you aware of any dangerous product combinations (for example: chlorine bleach and ammonia)?
  • When you are finished with these products, where do you dispose of them?
  • Household hazardous wastes contain dangerous chemicals. Where do the chemicals go when they are thrown into the dump?
    (If the students are unable to answer this question, the instructor should help them out and draw a simple diagram of chemicals leaching into the ground and explain how it can affect our underground water sources)
  • Who sells us these products? Are they responsible for accidents that happen to consumers?
  • Are these products too toxic for you and your family? For your neighbors, your community, animals, water systems, the whole ecosystem?
  • What products can we eliminate? What products are necessary in our lives?

 

READING ACTIVITY:

Most areas should have a time and place set aside for residents to bring their hazardous household waste. Try to find out if there is a household hazards "Drop-off Day" in your area, and when it happens. You can find out from your local Public Works Department. Before the reading activity begins, explain how this "Drop-off Day works. Have the students read the handout with the poem and the list of products that can be safely disposed of at such a "Drop-Off" day (click below).

Poem and Household Hazards Disposal List

 

WRITING ACTIVITY:

The students should write a short essay on a dangerous spill, intoxication or ingestion that has happened in their home, garage, garden or workplace. Have them describe what was done to remedy the situation. Then have the students read their stories to the class.

 

GROUP ACTIVITY:

As a class, or in small groups, have the students brainstorm on safer, cheaper and effective household alternatives. They should draw on family, cultural and national alternatives to the products sold at stores in the U.S. What did their parents and grandparents use? Do they use different products here than in their home countries? Then give the students the "Household Cleaner Alternatives" handout to compare with the list that they have compiled.

 

ACTION ACTIVITY:

Student should go home and assess the harmful products in their home and workplace. They should develop a plan of action to phase out dangerous products and switch to safer, more economic and environmentally friendly alternatives. Have the students post their plans of action the following day to compare ideas.

OR

Have the students write a letter to the City Recycling Program or the Department of Solid Waste and ask for a "Household Hazardous Waste- Drop-Off" day. (explain to the students that in some areas, such an event comes only once every two years because of lack of funding) In their letters, the students should explain the importance of having a facility for dropping off batteries, cleaning fluids, anti-freeze and much more. They can also write about their concern for the safety of their families, communities, and the environment when they have no other choice than to dump these substances into a city or county dump.

 

HANDOUTS AND BROCHURES NEEDED:

  • Information on local household hazard "Drop-off Days"

 

Health Literacy Curriculum