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Is it safe to keep house hold chemicals bottles near food shelves - after all if one is careful enough not to add them accidentally to food while cooking ? Or are they volatile and will settle on our food items ?

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By "chemicals" I presume you mean cleaning supplies. Such things do not migrate into food on their own. The only purpose in keeping them away from each other is due to accidentally spilling or pouring them into food.

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    I don't know what this means scientifically but I've eaten foods that must have been stored near detergents and fabric softeners in the store or warehouse that tasted of fragrance. – padma Nov 25 '18 at 19:23
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As a chemist this makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. One cardinal rule in a chemistry lab is not to eat or drink in the lab. So you are not going to instantly die, nor will you grow another ear, from have cleaning supplies near food items, but to me it is a really bad idea. The cleaning supplies should be stored in a separate location. Under the kitchen sink is typical.

In other words - !! PLAN AGAINST STUPIDS !! You don't want to accidentally spray your frying pan with roach killer instead of a spray oil.

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    I personally know a case where one person decided to temporarily store lye in the personal drinking cup of a then-6yo. The now almost 70yo today still suffers from after effects. Yes, this is an example of extraordinary human stupidity, but this kind of sh*t happens. I very much second your “plan against stupids” statement. – Stephie Nov 25 '18 at 18:07
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    OTOH, “under the sink” is typical, but not necessarily wise if you have curious toddlers around. Even with those “child-proofing” contraptions. – Stephie Nov 25 '18 at 18:08
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    Even if nothing overtly stupid happens, cleaning products are highly toxic (houseworkers are exposed to more dodgy chemicals than farmworkers even), and they're often quite volatile even when you aren't actively using them. Storing them in the kitchen is a bad idea, but at least put them in the classic under the sink position, as far away from food as possible. – user57361 Nov 27 '18 at 0:21
  • The importance of a second location can't be overstated. To spray your frying pan with roach killer you now have to do two stupid things consecutively. First you have to go to the wrong location, then you have to pick up the wrong can. The point is do not make it easy to make a single stupid mistake that will have serious consequences. – MaxW Nov 27 '18 at 7:21

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