What are common types of take-home toxins and how can I prevent them from spreading to my loved ones?
People who work with hazardous substances can unknowingly bring them home on their clothes, shoes, skin, tools, and vehicle interiors. These are known as “take-home toxins” and the family members of these workers can be exposed to them even if they never set foot on the job site. Once introduced in the home, these toxins can embed themselves in furniture and clothing, circulate through household air, and be transmitted by person-to-person contact.
Health Effects of Exposure to Take-Home Toxins
The health impacts of bringing workplace hazards into the home can be temporary or permanent. In some cases, physical symptoms may only arise many years after initial exposure.
Three common take-home toxins are asbestos, lead, and pesticides. The effects of these substances are serious. Prolonged exposure to asbestos can cause asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related injuries (learn about Employer Liability for Asbestos Exposure). Lead ingestion can cause physical and mental development problems in children and can be fatal in high doses. Studies have confirmed associations between early-life exposure to pesticides and pediatric cancers, impaired cognitive function and behavioral issues.
Preventing the Spread of Take-Home Toxins
Employers can help prevent the spread of take-home toxins by choosing the right protective garments for workers. Single-use, disposable protective clothing, for instance, can be discarded at the job site, minimizing the risk of carrying any hazardous substances home (see 4 Key Types of Protective Clothing to Know and Understand).
Employers should also have policies in place for workers who wear reusable protective clothing. It is especially important to require them to don and doff the clothing onsite instead of wearing it home or leaving it in their vehicles.
Interested in learning more about how to protect yourself and others and how to select the right PPE for the job? Join Certified Industrial Hygienist Damien Hammond for a free webinar on Thursday, August 2nd from 1pm-2pm EST to learn about the sources and risks of take-home-toxins, as well as measures that can be taken to prevent their occurrence.
More Q&As from our experts
- What are take-home toxins and what can I do about them?
- What type of clothing should be worn inside a clean room?
- What are the most common toxic gases in confined spaces?