Polyacrylonitrile also known as Acrylic fiber is a synthetic material that consists of about 80 percent of acrylonitrile. This aspect makes Polyacrylonitrile a rigid thermoplastic material that is slow to burn and has low permeability to gases. Polyacrylonitrile contains methyl acrylate and methyl methacrylate, which are two organic components of polyacrylonitrile polymer. The reaction of propylene, oxygen and ammonia in the presence of a catalyst produces acrylonitrile (Zelizer, 2000). Polyacrylonitrile is highly flammable and decomposes in fire to produce various products due to the breakdown and recombination of carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen atoms. These products comprise of mixed gases and visible compounds formed from incomplete combustion. Airborne particles are some of the visible products generated from the combustion of Polyacrylonitrile. Such particles tend to remain suspended in the air for long and introduce health threats upon inhalation and absorption in the body. Other products include hydrogen cyanide (HCN) and carbon monoxide (CO) (Schafe, 2000). HCN is highly poisonous when inhaled or ingested, as it possesses carcinogenic properties. Cyanide ions hamper the supply of oxygen to body tissues and causes metabolic acidosis. Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs through inhalation of the compound, which combines with hemoglobin to form carboxyl-hemoglobin. This hampers the supply of oxygen to vital body organs and may lead to death
Toxic Chemicals in household products
Most households commonly use Clorox bleach for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and fabrics. The ingestion or inhalation of Clorox bleach may cause nausea and vomiting. Furthermore, exposure to significant amounts of bleach vapors could act as a triggering factor to heart and respiratory conditions such as asthma or chronic bronchitis (Bade, 1994). Prolonged contact between Clorox and human skin causes skin irritation. Clorox reacts with chemicals such as ammonia or products of chlorine to produce toxic gases.
The manufacture of Windex uses Ammonia, Terasodium pyrophosphate, Sodium lauryl sulfate and 2-Butoxyethanol as major ingredients. Most households commonly use Windex for cleaning house windows. The vapors produced when using Windex contain significant amounts of ammonia that pose threats to humans. The inhalations of such vapors cause severe pulmonary effects. Ingesting Windex causes seizures and liver enlargement among other symptoms (Viscusi et al., 1987). It could also lead to breathing problems and lowered hemoglobin levels due the effects of 2-Butoxyethanol. Windex also contain isopropyl alcohol whose ingestion causes headache and CNS depression.