Toxins in Everyday Life - Why Are Toxins Toxic?, Chemical Toxins, Fluoride, Asbestos, Radiation, Tobacco, Indoor Air Toxins
substances found chemicals
Many of the substances naturally found in the environment or released by modern, industrialized society are harmful to humans and other living creatures. Common toxins include heavy metals (lead, cadmium, aluminum, mercury, and manganese), chlorine, organic chemicals (such as pesticides and herbicides), and radiation.
These substances may be found in the home, workplace, or backyard, in the food and water people eat and drink, and even in medications. Most of the chemicals attacked in Rachel Carson's 1962 book Silent Spring (Boston: Houghton Mifflin) are still used in the United States, and some
that have been banned have been replaced by substances even more toxic.
A toxin is a substance—bacterial, viral, chemical, metal, fibrous, or radioactive—that poisons or harms a living organism. A toxin may cause immediate, acute symptoms such as gastroenteritis, or cause harm after long-term exposure such as living in a lead-or radon-contaminated home for many years. Some toxins can have both
immediate and long-term effects: Living in an environment wit…
Hundreds of chemicals released into the air, water, and the food chain are harmful to the environment—to humans as well as other living things. Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (61 Stat 163; amended 1988, PL 100-532), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is charged with reviewing chemical
studies and taking appropriate action, including banning dangerous su…
Fluoride was first added to drinking water in 1945 to control dental caries and prevent tooth decay. Dental caries is an infectious, communicable disease in which bacteria dissolve the enamel surface of a tooth. Left unchecked, the bacteria may then penetrate the underlying dentin and soft tissue, resulting in tooth loss,
discomfort, and even acute infection throughout the body. At the beginning o…
Asbestos is the generic name for several fibrous minerals that are found in nature. Very long and thin fibers are bundled together to make asbestos. First used as a coating for candlewicks by the ancient Greeks, asbestos was developed and manufactured in the twentieth century as an excellent thermal and electrical insulator.
The physical properties that give asbestos its resistance to heat and dec…
Radiation is energy that travels in waves or particles. Radiation exposure comes from natural and human-made sources. People are exposed to natural radiation from outer space (cosmic radiation), the Earth (terrestrial radiation and radon), and their own bodies. According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, these sources
account for about 82 percent of the average person's radiation e…
Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, causing more than 440,000 deaths each year and resulting in an annual cost of more than $75 billion in direct medical costs. Nationally, smoking results in more than 5.6 million years of potential life lost each year. —Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, Atlanta, GA [Online] http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/i…
Indoor pollution has become a serious problem in America. Although most people think of outdoor air when they think of air pollution, studies now reveal that indoor environments are not safe havens from air pollution. As discussed earlier, lead, asbestos, radon, and ETS all pose serious and costly problems in indoor settings.
Modern indoor environments contain a variety of pollution sources, inclu…
Noise is unwanted sound. The word is derived from the Latin word nausea, meaning seasickness. Experts agree that noise pollution is bad and getting worse in America. Noise from road traffic, airplanes, jet skis, garbage trucks, construction equipment, manufacturing processes, lawn mowers, subways, and leaf blowers are just a
few of the unwanted sounds that are routinely broadcast into the air. Phy…
Noncommercially caught fish and wildlife are sometimes contaminated with chemicals, such as mercury, PCBs, and DDT. In order to protect consumers from health risks associated with consuming such pollutants, the EPA and the states issue consumption advisories to inform the public that high concentrations of contaminants have
been found in local specimens. According to the EPA in Update: National Li…
More and more the world faces threats from toxins intentionally and maliciously introduced into the environment with the sole purpose of harming people. The anthrax letters that followed the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, have brought new focus to the dangers of toxins that can be used for chemical and biological
weapons. While some of these toxins can be identified, such as anthrax, oth…
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