Updated 07 August 2014

Detox your garage

Paint, paint thinners, benzene, paraffin, mineral spirits, turpentine, lubricating/motor oils, petrol and carbon monoxide are just some of the dangerous substances lurking in the average garage or tool shed.

You've probably been meaning to de-clutter your garage for months (years?) so why not give it a detox while you're about it.

The garage/toolshed probably wins when it comes to toxic substances in the home. Some of the worst offenders:

Carbon monoxide: poisonous gas that can be deadly in enclosed spaces, produced by incomplete burning of any fuel source e.g. motor engines, generators, charcoal burners.

Used motor oil: contains toxic compounds such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons, many of which are carcinogenic. Exposure to used motor oil may also contribute to heart problems.

Toluene: in some paints, thinners, lacquers, wood putty and petrol. Exposure increases risk for liver and kidney damage, and miscarriages.

Benzene: in some paints, paint thinners, petrol, motor oils and resins. It's carcinogenic, and toxic if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed by the skin.

Lead: in unleaded exhaust fumes and old paint. Ingested or inhaled, even at low doses, lead can affect almost every organ in the body and exposure is particularly dangerous for children.

Charcoal lighters and briquettes contain petroleum distillates, some of which contain benzene. Carcinogenic benzopyrene is released when they are burned.

Garage detox tips

*Never idle the car engine inside the garage.

*Carefully dispose of old chemicals. Don't pour antifreeze, oil or other chemicals on the ground, down the drain or into the stormwater system.

*Recycle used motor oil through the Rose Foundation. Read: Used motor oil is toxic glop.

*Call your local municipality to see if they have a disposal location for used car batteries and other household hazardous wastes.

*Keep products in original containers when possible. If a container is leaking, put it in a spill-proof secondary container.

*For a braai fire, substitute charcoal lighters and briquettes with kindling and paper.

Follow us as we detox the rest of the house. The idea for doing a "Toxic Tour" of the home comes from groundWork.

Read more:
Detox your livingroom
Detox your bathroom
Detox your kitchen

Olivia Rose-Innes is Health24’s EnviroHealth Editor. Read more of her columns and articles or post a question to her expert forum.


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