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Tox Town - Environmental health concerns and toxic chemicals where you live, work, and play
Offices and Storesen español

Why are offices and stores a concern?

Because offices and stores are familiar and everyday places, people may not be aware of the health hazards they can pose. Office and store workers can be exposed to chemicals, poor indoor air quality, and biological contaminants that can cause short- or long-term health problems. 

Offices and stores can contain pesticides, cleaning products made with harmful chemicals, and drinking water that may be contaminated. Many offices and stores use or sell products that contain chemicals or materials that can affect human health. Workers can develop skin problems or allergies from handling office and store supplies and products. 

Indoor environments sometimes have higher levels of air pollutants than outside levels. These air pollutants can come from outdoor or indoor sources, including pest control, cleaning supplies, construction products, building materials, and new furnishings. Indoor air pollutants can increase the risk of allergies and respiratory illnesses, including asthma, in office and store workers. Indoor air pollutants can include poisonous gases, such as carbon monoxide and radon. Indoor air may also include secondhand tobacco smoke. Radon and secondhand smoke are listed as human carcinogens in the Fourteenth Report on Carcinogens published by the National Toxicology Program because they cause cancer.  Particulate matter may be drawn into offices and stores from outside the building or from activities such as printing, copying, and operating equipment. Bacteria, viruses, molds, and pollen can cause allergies and asthma. 

Office and store workers can suffer injuries from physical hazards or task-related activities.

This description is based on the information found in the Web links listed with this topic.

Web Links from MedlinePlus (National Library of Medicine)
Drinking Water
Household Products
Indoor Air Pollution
Occupational Health
Secondhand Smoke

More Links
An Office Building Occupant's Guide to Indoor Air Quality (Environmental Protection Agency) (PDF — 62.57 KB)
Computer Workstations eTool (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)
Drycleaning (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)
Frequently Asked Questions About Drycleaning (Environmental Protection Agency) (PDF — 286.19 KB)
Haz-Map Occupational Health Info (National Library of Medicine)
Office Environment and Worker Safety and Health (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)
Office Safety Workplace Program (Texas Department of Insurance) (PDF — 363.48 KB)
Repetitive Motion Injuries - Preventing Repetitive Motion Injuries (California State Compensation Insurance Fund)
Retail Worker Safety (California State Compensation Insurance Fund)
Start at the Store: 7 Ways to Prevent Foodborne Illness (Food and Drug Administration)
Sustainable Management of Electronics (Environmental Protection Agency)
Worker Safety Series: Warehousing (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) (PDF — 725 KB)

Chemicals in Offices
Are these chemicals in MY community?
Bisphenol A (BPA)
Carbon Dioxide
Carbon Monoxide
Endocrine Disruptors
Ethylene Glycol
Ethylene Oxide
Natural Gas
Nitrogen Oxides
Particulate Matter
Perchloroethylene (PCE, PERC)
Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Sulfur Dioxide
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Last Updated: November 28, 2016

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