Hazardous chemicals are substances that pose danger to life forms such as humans, animals, and plants, and to the environment like rivers, oceans, soils, and air. The effects of these chemicals vary, depending on the level of exposure and their toxicity.
Some cause immediate loss of life and permanent damage. There are others that will take longer exposure times before their effects manifest. In human history, there are different large-scale incidents which are associated with the misuse or mishandling of these substances. Effects of some of these incidents can be felt up to these days even if it happened decades ago.
Because of the risks involved in the use and handling of these hazardous chemicals, government rules and regulations are already in place in line with their use, handling, transport, and disposal.
Some nations have sophisticated facilities that are used specifically for the safe use and disposal of these chemicals. There are also numerous public and private groups promoting awareness and training about the proper use of these substances.
Like other common substances, hazardous chemicals can be in the form of solid, liquid, and gas. Some are naturally occurring, while others are a result of man-linked activities such as plant processing and oil refining.
Hazardous chemicals can also be found in things we use every day. They can also be present in some of the things that we have at home, at school, or at the office.
Below are examples of the chemicals we commonly come in contact with:
- Bisphenol A or BPA, which can be found on plastic bottles and food cans. BPA causes behavioral changes in children, and miscarriages in pregnant women.
- Phthalates are present in household fragrances such as air freshener, insect sprays, and soaps. This substance is known to cause asthma, loss of sperm-count in males, and certain mental issues.
- Ammonia is a vital component of products such as window cleaners and polishing agents. Prolonged exposure to this substance can cause respiratory problems such as bronchitis and asthma. It can also produce a poisonous gas when mixed with bleach.
- Arsenic is a naturally-occurring substance that can be found in water and, in low levels, in rice. It can cause skin and digestive problems. Ingestion of large amounts of this substance can cause paralysis and blindness.
- Polybrominated diphenyl ethers are used to slow the speed of flames. They’re commonly found in electronic products such as television and computers, and foam products such as pillows and quilts. This substance is known to cause thyroid issues.