May 8, 2017: Hazards lurking in your garage?


When warm weather arrives. It’s time for the great outdoors. We are busy with spring cleaning and working in the yard. The garage is a resting place for many toxins and chemicals. 

It contains many potential hazards. Always supervise children while they are in the garage to prevent a poisoning.

How safe is your garage? You might be surprised. Most homeowners are unaware of the risks in their garages.

Here is a general overview of dangerous chemicals found in your garage.


If you have a car you probably have toxic alcohols.

Ethylene Glycol: radiator fluid. It has a sweet smell and taste. It can lead to kidney failure and death.

Methanol: windshield washer fluid and gas additives. A few teaspoonful’s ingested can lead to blindness and death.

Diethylene Glycol: found in brake fluid. Ingestion can lead to renal failure, seizures and death.


Hydrocarbons: gasoline, kerosene, lighter fluid, tiki torch oil, paint thinner, mineral spirits, turpentine, motor oil, vehicle waxes and polish. Can cause chemical pneumonitis if aspirated. Just a small amount in lungs can be lethal in children.



Acid and lye products: grill/oven cleaners, drain cleaners, brick/stone cleaners, lime powder, rust removers and wheel cleaners. Can lead to significant chemical burns to eyes, skin, mouth and lungs. A small sip of these products can cause serious damage to mouth, esophagus and stomach. Special Note: If it contains HF (hydrofluoric acid) exposure can lead to hyperkalemia, hypocalcemia and arrhythmias.


Pesticides, fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides: Can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, throat irritation, skin irritation, SLUDGE effects, muscle weakness, methemoglobinemia, hypotension and pulmonary edema.


Some are chlorine oxidizers “shock treatments” like calcium hypochlorite, sodium hypochlorite and chlorinated isocyanurate compounds: Inhalation of fumes can cause eyes, nose, throat irritation and respiratory irritation leading to cough, wheeze, shortness of breath and delayed pulmonary edema. Mixing the wrong chemicals together or wetting could cause a reaction such as, a small explosion and release of toxic gases

Tennessee Poison Center recommends


Keep products in their original containers.

Close the container lid tightly.

Store products where children cannot reach them and use locked cabinets for storage.

Call TPC right away at 1-800-222-1222 if you think someone may have been exposed to any potentially harmful substance or poison.


MICROMEDEX/POISONDEX Health Series by Truven Health Analytics

Poisoning & Drug Overdose, 4th ed., Kent R. Olsen, ed


This Question prepared by:  Jeff Moore, RN, CSPI


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Donna Seger, MD

Medical Director

Tennessee Poison Center

Poison Help Hotline: 1-800-222-1222