The Fine Print

The number for Poison Control is 1-800-222-1222 no matter where you are in the United States.  Call this number for a poison emergency, and questions about poisons and poisoning prevention.  Canadian poison control center phone numbers vary by province.

For pets, call your veterinarian for immediate assistance.  You can also contact the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680.  This 24-hour line is for pet owners in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean. Caution, there is a fee of about $40 to use this pet helpline service.

Signal Words on Product Labels

Cleaning product labels provide ingredients (though not all are required to be listed), directions, cautions (including signal words), first aid, proper storage, proper disposal, and contact information.

Always Read the Label First to know how to properly use these products and for safety information.  Common signal words include words from the following list....

Danger is the strongest signal word. If a label has the word Danger on it, you must be extremely careful using the product. If it is used the wrong way, you could get very sick, be hurt for a long time, go blind or even die. Danger is also used on products that could explode if they get hot.  Products with the signal words Caustic and Poison can also be fatal if inhaled or ingested.

Bleach, drain cleaners, ammonia, toilet bowl cleaners, and oven cleaners contain strong chemicals that may be labeled "Danger." 

Warning is less strong than Danger, but it still means that you could get really sick or become seriously hurt. Warning is also used to identify products that can easily catch on fire.

Many laundry and dishwasher detergents, disinfectants, and all-purpose cleaners are labeled with "Warning."

Caution shows that the product could hurt you, but it is less harmful than products with a danger or warning signal word. Caution is used on products that could bother your skin, make you sick if you breathed the fumes, or really hurt you if the product got in your eyes.
You've got to be careful whenever you see a signal word! 

Wear Rubber Gloves is recommended when you could not only get a skin rash, but the toxins could be absorbed through your skin.

Avoid Inhaling means not only that the product could make you cough, but it might damage your lungs.

Fumes or Adequate Ventilation means you should not inhale the fumes.  There is no definition of "proper ventilation," so you should be extremely careful.

Irritant may mean a product is not as dangerous as those with the other signal words, but it can mean irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin. 

Do Not Mix on a label indicates that there could be a dangerous chemical reaction by mixing the product with another product.  This includes even small amounts, so take the warning seriously.  For example, mixing bleach and ammonia produces a deadly gas.  Some mixtures could actually explode.

For help in deciphering a label, check Seventh Generation's helpful list.

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