Metallic mercury is a liquid at room temperature and can readily evaporate into the air. It’s also a potent neurotoxin that, in small amounts, can cause serious health problems, according to the California Department of Public Health.
Widely known as a preservative in morgues, formaldehyde – a colorless, strong-smelling gas – can be found in chemicals, plywood and various household items, including glue and paper product coatings, according to OSHA. It’s also used as an industrial fungicide, germicide and disinfectant.
Compressed gas cylinders may look fairly harmless, but the stored gases can be toxic, flammable, oxidizing, corrosive or inert, according to the Department of Energy Office of Environment, Health, Safety and Security.
Bleach is a chemical that is diluted and used as a cleaning agent to kill bacteria, fungi and viruses. Handling bleach requires caution and care because it’s corrosive, which means it can irritate or burn the skin and eyes, according to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety.
Toluene is a clear and colorless liquid that turns to vapor when exposed to air at room temperature. According to OSHA, it’s often used in a mixture with other solvents and chemicals, such as paint pigments, so employees who work with paint, metal cleaners and adhesives may be at risk for exposure.
Anhydrous ammonia – used in manufacturing, refrigeration and agriculture – is a pungent, colorless and toxic gas or liquid that, when concentrated, is corrosive to human tissue upon contact, according to NIOSH.
Breathing problems. Itchy skin, rashes and burns. Irritated eyes. For some workers, including maintenance workers, janitors and housekeepers, these symptoms may have a common factor: cleaning products.