Beware! Unused chemicals at home can turn into explosives over a period of time

HYDERABAD: Did you know that several chemicals that are neatly lined up in the shelves of your homes can turn extremely hazardous over a period of time? Chemicals in perfume bottles, paint boxes, furniture stripper, turpentine, dry cleaning fluids, paint thinner and nail polish remover can turn into explosives -- if they are left unused for months -- owing to the pressure that may build up in the containers.

In that case, should we be dumping these chemicals outside our homes instead of safely disposing them of? Experts say no to such practices in light of the two recent deaths due to chemical explosions in the State.

Prof B Satyanarayana from the Department of Chemistry in Osmania University said, "The daily-use chemicals can turn into explosives.

Solvents like paint, thinner and varnish could evaporate while creating a combustible pressure inside the containers. When someone tries to open it, it can inadvertently result in an explosion."

Beware! Unused chemicals at home can turn into explosives over a period of time

When people use paint to revamp their houses, they don't safely dispose of the leftover paint in the cans, more often than not.

"Traditionally, people used to bury paint in its liquid form in a landfill. But, this is not a good practice as it can contaminate the groundwater," said Sampath K, a researcher.

Things can take a dangerous turn if the ill-maintained and hazardous materials are left unsupervised with children, he added.

Incidentally, most of the online remedies regarding the safe disposal of chemicals suggest donation of leftover paint to needy people.

In the case of oil or latex paint, open the lid of the box and let it dry out. If it is heavy in quantity, add cat litter, such as, papers to convert it to its solid-state. Even as it turns solid, one should not place it in a closed box, said the chemical professor. "However, for different chemicals, the methods of disposal are different," Satyanarayana said. For some solvents, adding water can make it harmless.

When contacted, the Regional Fire Officer-Central Region V Papaiah, said, "People should contact the fire department when they need help to handle hazardous materials."