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The household chores that can KILL - from washing dishes to using a clothes horse

Mirror logo Mirror 16/09/2017 Julie McCaffrey

© Photographer's Choice They say hard work never killed anyone. But housework can be lethal, warn scientists.

Using bleach and other common disinfectants to clean our homes raises our risk of fatal lung conditions by 32%.

It is a shocking report (and yet another reason to dodge boring chores). But that’s not the only housework that could seriously damage us.

From washing dishes to using a clothes horse, here are some of the routine jobs that can harm your health.

Grocery shopping with reusable bags

Researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University tested reusable bags and found almost half to be heavily contaminated with bacteria which can cause infections like E.Coli.

That’s because bags-for-life are often used for raw meat as well as fruit, veg and other products so can cause food poisoning.

Storing the bags in a warm car boot means one bacteria quickly becomes thousands.

Professor Kofi Aidoo, a leading expert on bacterial toxins and foodborne diseases, said: “These bags would have to be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis to avoid the risk of food poisoning.

“Vegetables that come into contact with the inside of the bags could easily be contaminated.”

The Food Standards Agency and NHS Choices advise shoppers to ensure that reusable bags used for raw meat and fish are not used to carry ready-to-eat foods.

Hanging wet clothes indoors

Rainy British weather means we can’t always dry laundry outside. But hanging up our wet clothes indoors can seriously damage our health.

One load of wet laundry adds over nine pints of extra moisture into the air in our home each day. Moisture helps bacteria, fungi and mould to grow, and these could cause potentially fatal respiratory problems.

The Asthma Society of Ireland recently warned about the dangers of wet clothes in our homes.

Pheena Kenny said: “Moist environments encourage the growth of mould which can release ‘seeds’ called spores. The spores can cause allergic reactions in some people.

“Mould and fungal spores are often invisible to the naked eye. For some people with asthma who are sensitive to mould spores, it can act as a trigger, causing asthma symptoms to get worse.”

Changing cat litter

Keeping your moggy tidy can cause an infection that can prove extremely dangerous in pregnant women.

Cat litter and cat poo can contain a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis infection.

It’s rare but developing toxoplasmosis for the first time when you’re pregnant or up to three months before you conceive means the infection can damage your unborn baby or even cause miscarriage or stillbirth.

Cleaning the oven

The active ingredient in most oven cleaners is concentrated lye. When lye is concentrated it’s highly corrosive to organic materials.

Good news is that it will dissolve food deposits. The bad news is that humans are also made of organic materials.

Fatalities are rare, but it’s of utmost importance to use protective gear when using nasty oven cleaning chemicals and use in a well-ventilated area as inhaling fumes can cause coughs and sore throats.

Vacuuming carpets

According to a report by John Roberts, an environmental engineer known as Dr Dust for his obsession with household hygiene, a typical carpet contains such high levels of toxic chemicals that it would trigger an environmental clean-up if found outside

In a laboratory test, a sample of carpet dust from an average home revealed alarmingly high traces of pesticides, cancer-causing chemicals and heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury.

Even relatively low levels of such poisons in dust could irritate children’s lungs, damage their developing nervous systems, retard their growth and hearing, or lead to cancer.

The findings, published in the New Scientist, suggested that vacuuming dirty carpets deposited more dust than it picked up.

Washing dishes

Credits: PA © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: PA More than 200 people sustain scouring pad injuries each year in Britain and a further 90 hurt themselves on drying racks.

Opening a dishwasher while it’s running can lead to severe burns from the steam, and reaching in to retrieve dishes has proved fatal.

In 2003, 31-year-old Jane McDonald from Airdrie, Lanarkshire, died when she slipped into her kitchen and fell on top of a knife protruding from her open dishwasher.

Using a tumble dryer

Tumble dryer fires are Britain’s second biggest cause of house fires. Fire brigades across the country were called to 926 tumble dryer fires between 2011 and 2013.

The danger is caused by a build up of fluff on the dryer’s filter and can cause the machine to burst into flames.

Frequently cleaning the filter and never leaving a tumble dryer on in your absence or during the night will help ensure your tumble dryer is safe.

Cleaning a toaster

If a piece of bread is stuck in the toaster, sticking a knife into the machine to retrieve it could lead to electric shock.

The thin conductive wires used to generate the heat required to brown your toast are typically coated in mica, a mineral with exceptional heat resistance to insulate the wires from the toaster’s body.

Although it normally prevents injuries by electrocution even when a knife is inserted into the toaster, it’s extremely brittle so can easily be damaged or dislodged.

Using detergent tablets

In 2012, doctors issued a warning after treating some children for near fatal injuries after they suffered burns to their eyes or throats from detergent tablets.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said tablets were responsible for more childhood injuries than any other household product in the UK.

A spokesman said: “Due to their inquisitive nature, children under the age of five are most at risk of accidentally swallowing or getting household cleaning products, like liquid laundry capsules, into their eyes.

“Even products with a child-resistant closure cannot guarantee safety - they only reduce the risk by delaying access to the product.”


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