At this year’s 2011 International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago, the motto could very well have been “safety first.”

From inoculation against another invasion of the pesky bed bug plague of 2010, to water filtration and food handling, protecting your family and home from germs and contamination seems to be the issue of the day.

In many of this year’s IHH offerings, companies are trying to be both eco-friendly and risk-averse.

Bed Bug Patrol Luggage Spray, distributed by Nature’s Innovation Inc, is a handy marker-sized travel product that allows frequent wanderers to defend themselves from the threat of mattress pests. The manufacturer claims to uses 100 percent EPA exempt natural ingredients to provide a safe yet effective method of deterring nocturnal visitors.

Bill Carlson, CEO of Nature’s Innovation, spoke about the need to develop a human-friendly tool that could be transported anywhere but would still do the job of killing bed bugs. “From 5-star hotels, resorts and cruise ships, to your local motel, bed bugs can easily invade your luggage and belongings while traveling,” he said.

The safety trend continued with WaterChef Premium Filtration Appliances. Their trademarked filtration technology offers up to 1,000 gallons of clean water, allowing families to skip bottled water purchases, conserving costs and resources, while ensuring an ample, safe drinking supply. WaterChef claims to set itself apart from Brita pitchers or traditional faucet filters by virtue of product longevity, a claim difficult to verify at the show.

Biomaid, a South Korean manufacturer and distributor of eco-friendly kitchen aids and housewares, introduced TPU(Thermoplastic Poly Urethane) anti-bacterial cutting boards. The company says that traditional wooden cutting boards, even after a thorough cleaning, carry significantly more germs than a toilet or musty shoe rack.

Thermoplastic Poly Urethane is a relatively new material that has been used for medical purposes, but is now beginning to be adapted for more utilitarian purposes. Like cutting carrots and celery.

Still, even here it’s easy easy to see the green/safe themes in full bloom. The latest generation of cutting boards are dishwasher safe as well as BPA-free. Color-coding allows busy families to segregate the boards by intended use (fish, beef, vegetables, etc.), greatly reducing the risks of cross-contamination.

Lisa Casey Weiss, Lifestyle Consultant for the International Housewares Association, agrees that this year’s show is filled with products reflecting its safety-first and environmental agendas.

“I think consumers are more aware and more concerned overall these days with food safety, water safety and home safety. They are much more conscious and want products that give them more control over the unknown. Consumers have heard all the stories and now want to know what they can do about it,” she said.

No matter what your family’s individual product needs, it’s very likely that healthy living and environmental friendliness are among your concerns. Judging from the offerings of the International Home and Housewares Show, new goods like those mentioned above have only begun to tap into the growing market for safe, ecologically sound household tools.

Next week: More new products from this year’s International Home and Housewares Show.