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| Last Updated:: 01/04/2016

Environmental Toxic Chemicals



Indoor air pollution

  Indoor air pollution affects you at home, work, or even places you visit.

 Increases risk of a respiratory disease, such as asthma,allergies, and lung cancer.

Three pollutants commonly found in houses have the greatest effect on health:

1.Formaldehyde, released mainly by building materials.


2.Acrolein, comes from heating cooking oil to high temperatures and from cigarette smoke.    


3.Tiny particles, called respirable particulates, that can get into the lungs. A common source of respirable particulates is tobacco smoke.

Woodstoves and gas ranges:

Gas ranges, particularly when they are not well-vented or when they are used as a source of heat, may produce nitrogen dioxide, which can cause respiratory problems.Woodstoves that are not properly maintained and vented can give off tiny particles (particulates) and gases, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen, and hydrocarbons.

Building materials:

Exposure to building materials, products used for home improvement, and textiles can cause health problems. For example, particleboard, insulation, carpet adhesives, and other household products emitformaldehyde, which can cause nausea, respiratory problems, dry or inflamed skin, and eye irritation.

Control Viruses by:

Cleaning household surfaces with a disinfectant.

Having adequate ventilation in your house.

Having anyone with a viral infection, such as a cold or the flu, cough or sneeze into the bend of the elbow or into a tissue.

Household products:

Many of the products you use to clean your home or use for hobbies and home improvement projects contain potentially hazardous chemicals. Some can be toxic and in sufficient doses can cause eye and respiratory problems, headaches, dizziness, visual problems, and memory impairment.One of the most important ways you can protect yourself is by following the instructions on the label. When you use cleaning or other products, be sure to open windows or use an exhaust fan to provide good ventilation. Never mix household chemicals, such as chlorine bleach and ammonia. Some mixtures can create toxic fumes that can be fatal.

Outdoor air pollution:


Polluted air comes from many sources, such as factories, cars, buses, trucks, and power plants. And there are other sources that you may not think of, such as dry cleaners, wildfires, and dust.

1. Ozone

Ozone is a gas that exists at ground level as well as miles above the earth. It's made by a chemical reaction between nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the presence of heat and sunlight. "Good" ozone occurs naturally about 10 to 30 miles above the earth's surface. There, in the stratosphere, it forms a layer that protects the earth's surface from the sun's harmful rays. At ground level, "bad" ozone (smog) exists. Exhaust from vehicles, industrial emissions, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents are major sources of nitrogen oxides and VOCs. Add sunlight and hot weather to the mix, and harmful concentrations of ozone may develop. Because of the heat factor, ground-level ozone is a summertime air pollutant that can be dangerous, especially for people with respiratory illnesses.

Problems include:
Irritation of the lungs.
Coughing, wheezing, and pain when taking a deep breath, andbreathing problems while exercising.
Permanent lung damage from repeated exposure.
Aggravated asthma, increased susceptibility to pneumonia andbronchitis, and reduced lung capacity.

2. Particulates

Particulates include dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets found in the air. They come from many sources, such as vehicles, factories, construction sites, unpaved roads, and burning wood. Other particulates are formed when gases from burning fuels react with water vapor and sunlight. This can result from the combustion of fuels in motor vehicles and from industrial and power plants. Very small particulates that can get into your lungs are especially harmful to your health and may increase your risk of lung cancer and heart problems.8, 9 Particulates in the air you breathe can cause:
Asthma attacks.
Chronic bronchitis.
Coughing and difficult or painful breathing.
Reduced lung function.
Eye, nose, and throat irritation.

3.Carbon monoxide

In cities with lots of traffic, most of the carbon monoxide put into the air comes from vehicle exhaust. It also comes from manufacturing processes, wood burning, and forest fires. Indoor sources include cigarettes and space heaters. Carbon monoxidereduces the body's ability to deliver oxygen to tissues and organs, such as the heart and brain. It is especially dangerous for people who have heart problems. Carbon monoxide can be fatal to those exposed to extremely high levels. Every year carbon monoxide poisoning is a leading cause of deaths from toxic chemicals.

People with carbon monoxide poisoning may have:
Headaches, irritability, or loss of consciousness.
Difficulty working, learning, or doing complex tasks.
Aggravation of heart problems, such as angina, heart failure, andcoronary artery disease.

4. Nitrogen dioxide

When mixed with other particles in the air, nitrogen dioxide can often be seen as a reddish brown layer over many urban areas. Sources are fuels burned by vehicles, electric utilities, and industrial plants. Nitrogen dioxide is one of the nitrogen oxides, a group of highly reactive gases that contain various amounts of nitrogen and oxygen. Studies show that nitrogen dioxide may increase your risk of heart problems, such as heart failure.9 Nitrogen oxides cause many problems, including:
Breathing problems.
Acid rain, which is made when nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide react with other substances in the air and form acids. The acids then fall to earth as rain, snow, dry particles, or fog.
Toxic chemicals. Nitrogen oxides mix with common organic chemicals and even ozone to create toxic chemicals that can cause biological mutations.
Visibility impairment. Nitrogen dioxide and nitrate particles block light transmission and reduce visibility in urban areas.

5. Sulfur dioxide

This gas is formed when fuels containing sulfur are burned. Examples are when coal and oil burn, when gasoline is extracted from oil, or when metals are extracted from ore. Sulfur dioxide is put into the air when fossil fuel is burned, such as by coal-fired power plants. Other sources are industries that create products from metallic ore, coal, and crude oil or those that burn coal or oil, such as petroleum refineries or metal processing facilities.

Sulfur dioxide causes:

Health problems for people with asthma and heart conditions.
Acid rain.
Damage to forests and crops.
Damage to fish in streams and lakes.

6. Lead

Leaded gasoline used to be the main source of lead in the air. But because leaded fuels have been phased out, the main sources of lead emissions are metals-processing facilities, especially lead smelters. Lead may cause serious health problems, including:
Damage to kidneys, liver, brain, nerves, and other organs. Lead may also cause osteoporosis and reproductive problems. Excessive exposure can cause seizures, intellectual disability, behavioral disorders, memory problems, and mood changes. Low levels of lead cause brain and nerve damage in young children and fetuses, which can lead to learning problems and low IQ.
High blood pressure and increases in heart disease.


7. Organochlorines


Organochlorine compounds such as polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs were developed originally for use in electric equipment as cooling agents and are very dangerous chemicals. During the manufacture and disposal of products containing PCBs, and as a result of accidents, millions of gallons of PCB oil have leaked out. Although their manufacture in the United States was halted in the 1970s and they are being phased out, they are difficult to detect, are nearly indestructible and large quantities remain in existence and they will remain in the environment for a long time. They accumulate in the food chain and significant levels of them have been found in marine species, particularly mammals and sea birds, decades after their production was discontinued. They are carcinogenic and capable of damaging the liver, nervous system and the reproductive system in adults. When PCBs are burned, even more toxic dioxins are formed.


Exposure to pesticides may come from residual agricultural pesticides in foods; from household or workplace products used to control rodents, insects, and termites; and from disinfectants and fungicides. The most likely ways you are exposed are small quantities of pesticides in the foods you eat and by direct contact with surfaces (such as plants, soils, or structures) where pesticides have been used.If not used properly, both workplace and household pesticides can be dangerous. Exposure to high levels of some pesticides can cause headaches, dizziness, muscle twitching, nausea, weakness, and tingling sensations. Some experts believe that some pesticides may cause cancer or damage to the central nervous system.10 For agricultural workers, exposure to pesticides has been linked with an increased risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Pesticide exposure during pregnancy has been associated withmiscarriage, fetal death, and early childhood cancers such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Indoor use of pesticides increases children's risk of brain tumors, ALL, and birth defects. Children can be poisoned by stored pesticides, so these should always be kept out of reach. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children have as little exposure to pesticides as possible.

12. Mercury in fish
For most people, the level of mercury absorbed by eating fish and shellfish is not a health concern. But in a fetus or young child, this can damage the brain and nerves (nervous system). Because of the mercury found in fish, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advise women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children to avoid eating fish high in mercury and to eat limited amounts of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.