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ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH CONCERNS AND TOXIC CHEMICALS WHERE YOU LIVE, WORK, AND PLAY

Chemicals & Contaminants

Learn about common hazardous chemicals and contaminants, their possible health effects, and how you can protect yourself.

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Lead

Bisphenol A (BPA)

Concerned about health risks of BPA in plastics? Visit this page.

Radon

Endocrine Disruptors

Inform yourself about environmental endocrine disruptors, and associated human health risks.

Acetone

Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA)

Find out how Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) occurs in the environment, its uses, and health risks associated with exposure.

Methane

Pesticides

Exposure to pesticides can harm your health. Find out how to reduce your risk.

Chemicals & Contaminants

A

Acetone

Acetone is a clear, highly flammable liquid. It occurs naturally in plants, trees, volcanic gases, and forest fires. It is also found in vehicle exhaust, tobacco smoke, and landfill sites. More…

Most Common: Construction Factories Homes Hair and Nail Salons

Related to: Asthma and other Lung Diseases

Ammonia

Ammonia is a clear gas with a sharp odor. It is commonly sold in liquid form, which is corrosive and can destroy solid materials. It is also produced naturally by bacteria, decaying plants and animals, and animal waste. More…

Most Common: Construction Factories Homes Brownfield Agriculture Air Pollution Fuel Industry

Related to: Asthma and other Lung Diseases

Arsenic

Arsenic is a metallic element that occurs naturally in the earth’s crust and is widely distributed in air, water, and land. It has no odor or taste. More…

Most Common: Construction Factories Food and Cooking Brownfield Drinking Water Air Pollution

Related to: Cardiovascular (Heart) Disease Learning and Developmental Disabilities Asthma and other Lung Diseases Reproductive Health Cancer

Asbestos

Asbestos is a group of minerals that occur naturally in some rocks and soil. It comes in long fibers that are strong and heat-resistant. More…

Most Common: Brownfield Construction Factories Mines

Related to: Cancer Asthma and other Lung Diseases

B

Benzene

Benzene is a colorless liquid that is formed from both natural processes and human activities. It is produced naturally by volcanoes and forest fires. More…

Most Common: Trash Vehicles and Engines Factories Gas Station Homes Brownfield Air Pollution

Related to: Cancer

Bisphenol A (BPA)

Bisphenol A, also called BPA, is a white solid that has been used since the 1960s to make plastics that are lightweight, clear, and hard. More…

Most Common: Factories Homes Microplastics

Related to: Cancer Birth Defects Learning and Developmental Disabilities

C

Cadmium

Cadmium is a silver-white metal that is found in the earth’s crust. It is extracted during the production of metals such as copper, lead, and zinc. More…

Most Common: Factories Food and Cooking Homes Air Pollution

Carbon Dioxide

Carbon dioxide is a colorless gas. In its solid form, it is used as dry ice. It can be found in spring water and is released when volcanoes erupt, trees are cut down, or fossil fuels and products made from them such as oil, gasoline, and natural gas are burned. More…

Most Common: Power Plants Trash Vehicles and Engines Factories Air Pollution

Carbon Monoxide

Learn where carbon monoxide is found in our environment, how it is used, and the potential human health risks of exposure.  Find out how to protect yourself, your family, and your community.

More…

Most Common: Homes Vehicles and Engines

Related to: Cardiovascular (Heart) Disease

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are a group of odorless manufactured chemicals. Because they damage the earth’s ozone layer, CFCs have been banned since 1996. More…

Most Common: Factories Homes

Related to: Cancer

Chromium

Chromium is a naturally-occurring element found in several forms in rocks, plants, soil, foods such as vegetables and nuts, and volcanic dust and gases. More…

Most Common: Drinking Water Factories Food and Cooking Vehicles and Engines Air Pollution

Related to: Cancer Asthma and other Lung Diseases Reproductive Health Learning and Developmental Disabilities

Crude Oil

Crude oil is a dark, oily liquid that is usually found naturally in underground reservoirs, pools, and tar sands. It is a fossil fuel that is extracted and used to make petroleum products. More…

Most Common: Fuel Industry

Related to: Asthma and other Lung Diseases Cancer

D

Diesel

Diesel fuel is a petroleum product used in some automobiles, generators, trucks, trains, boats, and farm vehicles. More…

Most Common: Vehicles and Engines Construction Factories Brownfield Air Pollution

Related to: Cancer

Dioxins

Dioxins are a group of chemicals that are highly toxic and persistent in the environment. Dioxin is also the common name for the chemical TCDD, the most toxic of this family. More…

Most Common: Trash Factories Food and Cooking Brownfield Air Pollution

Related to: Learning and Developmental Disabilities Reproductive Health Cancer

E

Endocrine Disruptors

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the production or activity of human hormones. They include dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and plasticizers such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates.

More…

Most Common: Agriculture Brownfield Drinking Water Factories Food and Cooking Homes Trash Air Pollution

Related to: Reproductive Health Learning and Developmental Disabilities

Ethylene Glycol

Ethylene glycol is a colorless liquid that can be in the air in vapor form. It is used to make antifreeze and de-icing solutions for cars, airplanes, airport runways, and boats. More…

Most Common: Vehicles and Engines Factories Homes

Ethylene Oxide

Ethylene oxide is a flammable gas that is primarily used to make other chemicals such as ethylene glycol. It is emitted from fossil fuels such as petroleum, natural gas, and coal, and from tobacco products. More…

Most Common: Factories Healthcare Services

Related to: Reproductive Health Cancer

F

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable gas or liquid. It is naturally produced in small, harmless amounts in the human body. More…

Most Common: Factories Healthcare Services Homes Brownfield Air Pollution

Related to: Asthma and other Lung Diseases Cancer

G

Gasoline

Gasoline is a clear or pale brown, highly flammable liquid. It contains more than 150 other chemicals, including benzene, toluene, and sometimes lead. More…

Most Common: Boats and Ships Gas Station Vehicles and Engines Air Pollution Fuel Industry

Related to: Cancer Cardiovascular (Heart) Disease

L

Lead

Lead is a metal that has been used in a variety of products, including paints, pipes, solder, ceramic glazes, batteries, cosmetics, gasoline, and devices to shield X-rays. More…

Most Common: Factories Food and Cooking Homes Brownfield Mines Drinking Water

Related to: Cardiovascular (Heart) Disease Learning and Developmental Disabilities

M

Mercury

Mercury is a metal that occurs naturally. It comes in several forms, including a shiny, silver-white liquid and a tin-white solid. If it is heated, it becomes a colorless gas. More…

Most Common: Power Plants Factories Food and Cooking Brownfield

Related to: Learning and Developmental Disabilities Reproductive Health

Methane

Methane is a colorless and extremely flammable gas that can explode when mixed with air. It is the primary component of natural gas. More…

Most Common: Power Plants Trash Factories Gas Station Wastewater Treatment/ Wastewater Mines Agriculture Air Pollution Fuel Industry

Methanol

Methanol is a highly toxic liquid that may explode when exposed to flames. It occurs naturally in wood, volcanic gases, and decaying vegetation. It is emitted from gasoline and diesel engines, and from burning trash and plastics. More…

Most Common: Vehicles and Engines Construction Factories Homes Brownfield

N

Nanoparticles

Nanoparticles are particles at sizes between approximately 1 and 100 nanometers. A nanometer is one millionth of a millimeter. A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick. More…

Most Common: Factories Homes

Natural Gas

Natural gas is a fossil fuel that is found beneath the earth’s surface. It has no odor, but gas companies add a warning smell to it so that can be easily detected if it is leaking. More…

Most Common: Power Plants Homes Mines Fuel Industry

Nitrogen Oxides

Nitrogen oxides are a group of seven gases and compounds composed of nitrogen and oxygen. The two most common and hazardous nitrogen oxides are nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide. More…

Most Common: Power Plants Vehicles and Engines Factories Homes Agriculture Air Pollution Fuel Industry

O

Ozone

Ozone is a gas that occurs both in the earth’s upper atmosphere and at the earth’s ground level. In the upper atmosphere, ozone protects life on earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. More…

Most Common: Factories Gas Station Power Plants Vehicles and Engines Air Pollution

P

Particulate Matter

Particulate matter, also called PM, is the term for tiny particles found in the air. It is formed in the atmosphere because of chemical reactions between pollutants. More…

Most Common: Power Plants Vehicles and Engines Factories Homes Air Pollution

Related to: Cardiovascular (Heart) Disease Asthma and other Lung Diseases Cancer

Perchlorate

Perchlorate is a manufactured chemical and colorless salt that is most commonly used in rocket fuel. There are high levels of perchlorate naturally in some areas such as the southwestern United States. More…

Most Common: Factories Abandoned Military Sites Brownfield Drinking Water Air Pollution

Related to: Learning and Developmental Disabilities

Perchloroethylene (PCE, PERC)

Perchloroethylene is a colorless liquid that is also called tetrachloroethylene, PERC, or PCE. It is primarily used for dry cleaning fabrics and degreasing metals. More…

Most Common: Factories Dry Cleaning Brownfield

Related to: Learning and Developmental Disabilities Birth Defects Reproductive Health Cancer

Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA)

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is a manufactured chemical that is part of a larger group of chemicals called perfluoroalkyls. More…

Most Common: Brownfield Drinking Water Factories Homes

Related to: Reproductive Health Cardiovascular (Heart) Disease

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are a group of toxic chemicals that don’t break down easily in the environment. They can be intentionally produced and used in agriculture, disease and pest control, manufacturing, or industry. More…

Most Common: Trash Factories Food and Cooking Drinking Water Agriculture Air Pollution

Related to: Birth Defects Reproductive Health Cancer

Pesticides

Pesticides are substances that prevent, destroy, repel, or reduce the severity of pests. Different classes of pesticides have different toxicities. Pesticides include: Algicides to control algae Antifouling agents to kill organisms attached to boats Fungicides to kill fungi Herbicides to kill weeds Insecticides to kill insects Rodenticides to control mice and other rodents. More…

Most Common: Agriculture Boats and Ships Brownfield Factories Food and Cooking Homes Air Pollution

Phthalates

Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl. More…

Most Common: Brownfield Drinking Water Food and Cooking Healthcare Services Homes

Related to: Reproductive Health Learning and Developmental Disabilities

Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are manufactured, flame-retardant chemicals. More…

Most Common: Trash Factories Food and Cooking Homes Brownfield Drinking Water Air Pollution

Related to: Learning and Developmental Disabilities Reproductive Health

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

Polychlorinated biphenyls, commonly called PCBs, are manufactured mixtures of up to 209 chlorinated compounds. More…

Most Common: Factories Food and Cooking Drinking Water Air Pollution

Related to: Learning and Developmental Disabilities Reproductive Health Cancer

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a group of more than 100 chemicals that are also called polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons. More…

Most Common: Construction Factories Food and Cooking Mines Agriculture Air Pollution

Related to: Cancer

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a solid plastic made from vinyl chloride. It is made softer and more flexible by the addition of phthalates, and can contain traces of bisphenol A (BPA). More…

Most Common: Factories Healthcare Services Homes Drinking Water

Related to: Cancer

Propane

Propane is a gas or liquid that is highly flammable. It is the main component of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). More…

Most Common: Vehicles and Engines Gas Station Food and Cooking Agriculture Fuel Industry

R

Radon

Radon is a radioactive, extremely toxic gas that is formed naturally from the decay of uranium or thorium in rocks and soil. It is more common in some areas of the country than others. More…

Most Common: Homes Mines Uranium Tailings Air Pollution

Related to: Cancer

S

Solvents

Solvents are liquids or gases that can dissolve or extract other substances. They are used to dissolve grease, oil, and paint; to thin paint, glue, and pesticides; and to clean electronics, automotive parts, tools, and engines. More…

Most Common: Construction Factories Dry Cleaning Healthcare Services Homes Agriculture Hair and Nail Salons

Styrene

Styrene is a flammable liquid that is used to make polystyrene plastics, fiberglass, rubber, and latex. It occurs naturally in some fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts, and beverages. More…

Most Common: Factories Homes Fuel Industry

Related to: Learning and Developmental Disabilities Reproductive Health Cancer

Sulfur Dioxide

Sulfur dioxide is a colorless gas with a strong odor, similar to a just-struck match. It is formed when fuel containing sulfur, such as coal and oil, is burned. More…

Most Common: Power Plants Factories Air Pollution

T

Toluene

Toluene is a clear liquid that occurs naturally in crude oil. It is emitted from gasoline fumes, and is in vehicle exhaust and cigarette smoke. More…

Most Common: Factories Gas Station Vehicles and Engines Fuel Industry

Related to: Learning and Developmental Disabilities

U

Uranium

Uranium is a radioactive, naturally occurring element that is mined from the earth. It is commonly found in rocks, soil, and air. More…

Most Common: Power Plants Uranium Tailings Abandoned Military Sites Mines Drinking Water

V

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are compounds that easily become vapors or gases. More…

Most Common: Dry Cleaning Gas Station Homes Vehicles and Engines Air Pollution Fuel Industry

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