Skip To Content

    17 Things That Used To Be Totally Normal In Everyday Life And Are Now Known To Be Super Dangerous

    You might want to give some of those basement and attic finds a second look before you crack them open.

    It's crazy how much perspectives on different chemicals and substances being in your home has changed from generation to generation.

    We've learned a lot about the effects of exposure to toxic materials, not to mention what is and isn't dangerous in other ways.

    Here are some of the things that used to be just fine but are now recognized as straight-up bad for your health and safety.

    1. According to the EPA, "87% of homes built before 1940 have some lead-based paint, while 24% of homes built between 1960 and 1978 have some lead-based paint."

    lead paint chipping

    2. And since no amount of lead exposure is safe, that also made leaded gas (tetraethyl) a problem.

    A sign on a vintage gasoline pump advises that the gas contains lead

    3. Chemically-made colors became trendy in the 19th century and were in high demand into the 20th century. Arsenic-derived pigments were known to be dangerous, but they continued to be available because of how much money the designs were bringing in.

    green dye in water

    4. A number of household appliances including stoves, toasters, slow cookers, and bottle warmers contained asbestos for the majority of the 20th century.

    old-school slow cooker

    5. Batteries and garden fertilizer in your home could contain cadmium to this day.

    Close-up of woman holding handheld spreader filled with organic, slow-release lawn fertilizer

    6. Talc in baby powder and cosmetic powders have been linked to cancer.

    baby powder in hand

    7. If you've got any Teflon nonstick cookware from 2013 or before, it could contain a chemical previously used in the production of the nonstick coating called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has been linked to cancer.

    spatula in a crying pan on a stove top

    8. Heroin was used medicinally and recreationally in the 19th century.

    Vintage heroin drug bottle and opium poppies vector. Ink illustration of a liquid drug

    9. Science teachers still use liquid mercury in school experiments even though the CDC frowns upon that sort of thing.

    liquid mercury in hand

    10. And speaking of mercury, there was quite a bit of it in mercurochrome, an antiseptic that was also included as a disinfectant in household cleaners.

    Mercurochrome, alcohol, gauze and adhesive plaster on white background for first aid

    11. Cars only started being required to have seatbelts in the United States in 1966. By 1975, a majority of the rest of the world caught up.

    interior of a 1950s car

    12. Knobs and ornamental designs on metal dashboards were dangerous to drivers and front-seat passengers in cars with steel dashboards.

    The interior dashboard area of a vintage 1950s car in Cuba featuring jerry-rigged non-original equipment

    13. Kids could sit in the front seat if they wanted, and babies could be held by someone who wasn't driving. Car seats didn't become a mainstay until the '80s into the '90s.

    Curious toddler peeks in 1970 Mustang

    14. Parents moved away from using bedding in cribs in the early-to-mid-1990s.

    A mobile by "Kids Line" completes the lady bug motif in the bedding

    15. Using alcohol to soothe teething babies, an old wives' tale touted as a hot parenting tip, is frowned upon by modern medicine.

    Mother hands brushing teeth with a finger brush of a happy infant baby

    16. Lysol was used as a douche and subtly marketed as a method of birth control.

    Lysol bottles and a douche from the 1860's, on display on an exam room table at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Museum in Washington, DC

    17. You'd never dream of hitchhiking today, but it was once a valid way of getting around prior to the '70s.

    man holding his thumb out on side of the road to hitchhike

    What are some other bygone things and ways of life from the past that aren't safe to continue today? Talk about what's changed (and whether it's for better or worse) in the comments!