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Tox Town - Environmental health concerns and toxic chemicals where you live, work, and play
Are these chemicals in MY community? en español

Chemicals listed for a location are only suggestions of what MIGHT be found in a school or factory or farm or other place in town. They are listed to alert you to the possible places you might find chemicals of concern and to encourage you to consider what might be in your neighborhood.

Most locations in a real town would have none or a few of the chemicals listed. It's not very likely that a real location would have every chemical.

The web sites listed for each chemical can help you understand where and how you might be exposed to a chemical, how to avoid exposure, and how dangerous a chemical might be.

To find out about environmental hazards in YOUR region, search the web sites at the bottom of this page by city, state or zip code.

What is relative risk?

We are constantly exposed to chemicals in our everyday lives. In many cases, these chemicals are involved in products and processes that improve our quality of life. At the same time, these chemicals can also get into our food, water, and air and have a negative effect on us. We cannot avoid exposure to chemicals on any given day. The amount and duration of exposure to a chemical impacts the toxicity of that chemical. Simply put, the dose makes the poison. We, therefore, have to look at exposure to chemicals in terms of our relative risk.

When reading and learning about chemicals and locations in Tox Town, keep in mind your relative risk and use common sense when thinking about your risk in a given situation. The risk of suffering from symptoms of lead poisoning is significantly greater for a child living in a home with peeling lead-based paint on the wall than for a child living in a home with unleaded latex paint that is not peeling. Similarly, if you work in an occupation where you remove asbestos and repair buildings containing asbestos, you have a much greater risk of exposure to asbestos than someone who does not perform this kind of work. It is important to learn about environmental health concerns so that you can use this knowledge to minimize unnecessary exposures.

Health professionals and toxicologists define relative risk, or risk ratio, as the risk of harm among a population exposed to a potentially damaging substance compared to the risk to an unexposed population. In other words, relative risk is the rate of disease among the population exposed to a potentially damaging substance divided by the rate of the disease among the unexposed population. A relative risk of 1.0 means there is no difference among the two populations while a relative risk of 2 means that the exposed group has twice the disease risk as the unexposed group.

Click on the following links to learn more about health risk and exposure pathways.

Air, Land & Water

My Environment (Environmental Protection Agency). Create maps showing local geography and demographics. Find out about the quality of your local environment.

TOXMAP (National Library of Medicine). Search by chemical name or by city, state, or zip code to find out about toxic chemicals in your location.

Tox Town links to TOXMAP (http://toxmap.nlm.nih.gov), a Geographic Information System (GIS) from the National Library of Medicine (NLM), which uses maps of the United States to help users visually explore data from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) and Superfund Program. http://toxmap.nlm.nih.gov/toxmap/faq/2009/08/what-is-the-superfund-program-1.html

Tox Town links to TOXMAP only for those chemicals whose releases are reported to EPA. The chemical map shown in Tox Town lists both TRI and Superfund data when available. If only Superfund data is available, then the map will only show Superfund sites. Similarly, only TRI data is shown when there is no Superfund site data.

Federal law requires facilities in certain industries, which manufacture, process, or use significant amounts of toxic chemicals, to report annually on their releases of these chemicals to the EPA TRI Program. Superfund sites are those throughout the United States and its territories which contain substances that are either designated as hazardous under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), or identified as such under other laws. To learn more about how TOXMAP works visit the TOXMAP FAQ section.

Toxics Release Inventory Reporting Facilities. TOXMAP (National Library of Medicine). Map of US industries that must report routine releases of toxic chemicals.

National Priorities List (Superfund) Sites. TOXMAP (National Library of Medicine). Map of Superfund sites contaminated with hazardous waste and eligible for clean up by the US government.

Air

Today's National Air Quality Forecast map (Environmental Protection Agency). There are also daily maps for ozone and particles.

Water

Surf Your Watershed (Environmental Protection Agency). From your backyard to local streams and rivers, follow the flow of your local rain and check the health of your watershed.

Last updated: July 11, 2013

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