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

As of October 1, 2020, NLM will discontinue the Tox Town website, https://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/. This change is part of NLM’s initiative to align and consolidate the Library’s consumer health information to make it easier for online health information seekers to find and navigate trusted health information from NLM.

We invite users to visit topics related to environmental health, safety, and toxicology on MedlinePlus, the NLM’s flagship website for health information for patients, families, and the general public. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) also offers related resources that may be of interest: Kids Environment, Kids Health, Health & Education, and For Educators. If you have questions or suggestions, please contact NLM Customer Service.

Chemicals & Contaminants

Learn about common hazardous chemicals and contaminants, their possible health effects, and how to reduce exposure.

FEATURED CONTENT
Lead

Asbestos

Learn where you can find asbestos and the potential human health risks of exposure.

Radon

Carbon Monoxide

Learn where carbon monoxide is found and how to reduce your risk of exposure.

Acetone

Particulate Matter

Learn where particulate matter is found in our environment, and the potential human health risks of 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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Carbon Dioxide

Carbon dioxide (CO2) 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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

D

Diesel

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

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…

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…

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…

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…

F

Formaldehyde

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

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…

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…

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…

Methane

Methane is a colorless and extremely flammable gas.  It is the primary component of natural gas. More…

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…

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…

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…

Nitrogen Oxides

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

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…

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…

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…

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…

Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA)

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

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…

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…

Phthalates

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

Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)

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

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

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

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)

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

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

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

Propane

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

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…

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…

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…

Sulfur Dioxide

Sulfur dioxide, or SO2 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, creating air pollution. More…

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…

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…

V

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

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

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

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