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Kitchen imageHazards commonly found in the kitchen include toxic chemicals, pests, lead, carbon monoxide (CO) and fire hazards, and moisture. The kitchen is a good place to start thinking about toxic chemicals and safely managing pests. Visit the bathroom to learn more about mold and moisture; visit the living room to learn more about lead hazards; visit the basement to learn more about CO and fire safety.

Toxic Chemicals

Many cleaning products, pesticides, medicines and other household chemicals are toxic and could be harmful to you and your family. Children are at the highest risk of being poisoned by household chemicals. It is important to store and use these chemicals safely to reduce your risk of exposure to toxic chemicals.  Watch this video to learn about chemicals, and read below to learn more about safe chemical use (video produced by WXXI with support from the New York State Pollution Prevention Network).

When using chemicals:

  • NEVER mix chemicals (for example, ammonia and bleach make a toxic gas when mixed with each other)
  • Use safer alternative cleaners whenever possible (click for recipes). Not only are these safer for you and your family, but they are less expensive than most commercial cleaning products.
  • Wear gloves and a mask to protect yourself while using chemicals
  • Keep the area well ventilated while cleaning
  • Keep children and pets away from areas where chemicals are being used

When storing chemicals:

  • Keep chemicals in their original containers; if you make your own cleaner, be sure to clearly label the bottle for cleaning only
  • Store chemicals away from food; some bottles of chemicals can look a lot like food bottles and be easily confused (see below)
  • Store chemicals in cabinets inaccessible to children (use child safety locks whenever possible)

Chemical Storage

It's easy to mistake chemicals for food ("A" at left), especially for small children and others who can't read well or are distracted (and who's not distracted when they're cooking?).

To avoid accidental poisonings, keep chemicals ("B" at left) away from food ("C" at left). If cabinets are accessible to children, be sure to keep all chemicals behind child safety locks.

Pest Management

Pests should not be tolerated in a healthy home. Not only can they spread diseases, but they can in many cases cause or worsen respiratory issues such as asthma. So what's the first thing that goes through your mind when you see mice, cockroaches or other pests in your home? If it's "I need to get some poison!" then it's time to rethink your strategy. Did you know you can eliminate most (if not all) of your pests by making a few small behavioral and physical changes? Watch this video to learn about pests, and read below to learn more about how to reduce pests in your home (video produced by WXXI with support from the New York State Pollution Prevention Network).

To Safely Control Pests in the Home:

  • Take away food and water
    • Store food in airtight containers; do not leave food out
    • Fix leaks immediately (helps control mold, too)
    • Take the garbage out regularly
  • Take away shelter
    • Look around baseboards, pipes and corners for holes or cracks (a mouse can fit through a hole the size of a dime!)
    • Fill holes with something pests can't chew through (steel wool, expanding foam, etc.)
    • Keep clutter out of rooms and remember to take the trash out
  • Get rid of pests already in the house
    • Use mouse or rat traps with a dab of peanut butter (place along the baseboard, with the trap part facing the wall); KEEP IT AWAY FROM CHILDREN and pets
    • Use bait traps for roaches (these have poison, but it's contained)
  • Contact a professional
    • If you've done all you can and still have pests, it may be time for the owner of the property to contact a professional exterminator


  • Download the Safe Cleaning and Pest Management checklists for more details
  • Poison Control Center: (585) 273-4155 or 1 (800) 222-1222;
  • Contact Lynn Braband at Cornell Cooperative Extension for information on Integrated Pest Management: (585) 461-1000 x461 or
  • Contact Andy Sansone at Monroe County Hazardous Waste Facility for safe chemical disposal information: (585) 753-7600 or
  • Contact Frank Mirabella at Monroe County Department of Public Health for general housing concerns (cockroaches, mice, garbage, odors, insects, etc.): (585) 753-5563 or