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What is it?

Antifreeze is a bright yellow or green liquid with a slightly sweet smell. It is used in the radiators of cars, trucks and other motor vehicles. Antifreeeze works to keep the vehicle from overheating in the summer or freezing in the winter. When it's added to the water in a radiator it changes the water's boiling and freezing points. How much it changes depends on the ratio or concentration of antifreeze to water. Look at this table and you can see how much the boiling and freezing points of water are affected by different concentrations of antifreeze .

  Pure Water 50/50
boiling point 100°C / 212°F 106°C / 223° F 113°C / 235° F
freezing point 0°C / 32°F -37°C / -35° F -55°C / -67° F

What's in it?

The main hazardous ingredient of antifreeze is ethylene glycol.

What health and safety precautions do you need to think about with antifreeze?

Ethylene glycol is very poisonous when swallowed. It will cause severe damage to your heart, kidneys and brains. It can cause death.

Antifreeze can be spilled on the ground or leak from the radiators of cars and trucks. Because of its sweet smell animals may be attracted to it. Antifreeze is very poisonous, so licking or drinking the fluid can kill an animal. If you see a bright green or yellow liquid on the ground in the garage, driveway, parking lot, or street, keep your dog and pets away from the puddle and let an adult know about it .

When cleaning up antifreeze all adults need to wear gloves because ethylene glycol can cause damage to internal organs through skin absorption. Inhalation of the fumes can also cause dizziness.

There is a new type of antifreeze available that contains PROPYLENE GLYCOL. Propylene glycol is much less toxic than ethylene glycol. An animal would have to consume a lot more of this type of antifreeze, a quantity that is unlikely to be available, to get sick or to die. The bottle's label should tell you what is type of antifreeze it is.

Some people who have vacation homes that they "close up" for the winter will pour antifreeze into toilets so the water doesn't freeze. In this case, these people should always use the less toxic antifreeze (the ones with propylene glycol in it) because pets can drink out of toilets and can become poisoned.

What do you do if you or someone you're with has an accident with a household product?

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