A Review of Common Toxic Substances

It is difficult to remember the variety of evil substances to which we are exposed, and where we are likely to be exposed to them. This is a refresher to help you be vigilant.

Specific health hazards will not be noted.  Rather, simply keep in mind that some are known or suspected of causing cancers; many are known or suspected of disrupting the hormone system; many damage the immune, nervous, or reproductive systems. Therefore, for good health throughout life, try to avoid inhaling or ingesting any of these toxic chemicals. Most importantly, to safeguard a growing child, pregnant mothers need to keep all of these dangerous chemicals out of their bodies.

Bisphenol-A is found in canned foods (from an epoxy coating on the interior metal) and in polycarbonate (number 7) bottles. Although BPA is being phased out of polycarbonate nursing bottles, check the label before buying.

Phthalates are found in all vinyl plastics, such as some furniture coverings shower curtains, and in soft childrens toys.

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers these flame retardants are in most foam cushioning used in mattresses and furniture.

Perfluorinated octanoic acid and sulfonate are used extensively as soil and stain resistant coatings on carpeting, and on the packaging of microwave popcorn.

Perchlorates are found in some municipal water. Check with your water supplier.

Dioxins float around in the air everywhere, but especially downwind from municipal or hospital incinerators, and from backyard burning of trash that contains PVC-plastic.

Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and very small Particulates are found in soot from diesel engines and in smoke from wood fires.

Pesticides form a very large group of toxic substances sprayed on fruit and vegetable crops. It includes organochlorine compounds, organophosphates, carbamates, and pyrethroids.

You can get detailed information on most of these toxics by clicking on a keyword (on the right-hand side of the page) that will take you to the appropriate article. Keeping your body free of hazardous substances is not easy, but it is possible. The payoff is a healthier body, with far less chance of serious diseases – like cancer.


About donlouis

The author has long had a keen interest in staying healthy and fit, and in doing whatever I can to keep the natural environment unpolluted and a healthy space for people and all animals. As a former Board Member of a municipal water district, I regularly had to deal with the issue of water quality. I first became aware of radiation hazards from toxic materials while working on uranium for nuclear reactors. During the 1960s I was tuned into the global hazard from Strontium 90 raining down from atmospheric testing of nuclear bombs. While working in the chemical industry in later years I became aware of the many forms of chemical contaminants entering the environment every day, and resolved to do something about it. I am able to make sense out of the voluminous descriptions of common toxic chemical because of my training in chemistry, with a Ph.D. degree and several decades of research and development work in the chemical industry. My training and experience enables me to present to readers reliable and current information on the topic of chemical hazards in the environment, and their threats to human health. All my life I have loved hiking and camping in nature. Skiing, river kayaking, and tennis have been my favorite physical activities. Nature photography is my artistic passion.
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