Toxic Tuesdays

CHEJ highlights several toxic chemicals and the communities fighting to keep their citizens safe from harm.

1,3-butadiene
1,3-butadiene is a gas made from petroleum and is used to manufacture materials like synthetic rubber and plastics. Because it is a gas, 1,3-butadiene can ...
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1,4-dichlorobenzene (1,4-DCB)
1,4-dichlorobenzene (1,4-DCB) – also known as p-dichlorobenzene (p-DCB) – is a colorless solid chemical that readily evaporates into the air. 1,4-DCB does not occur in ...
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1,4-dioxane
1,4-dioxane is a clear liquid used in chemical manufacturing for industrial, consumer, and military purposes. During manufacturing or improper waste disposal 1,4-dioxane can be released ...
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2-Butanone
2-Butanone is an industrial chemical that is also known as methyl ethyl ketone (MEK). It manifests itself as a colorless liquid under standard conditions, tends ...
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Acknowledging the Limits to Assessing Low Dose Mixtures of Toxic Chemicals​
Approximately 1 year ago a Norfolk Southern train carrying more than 150 cars, many of which containing toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine, OH. Thirty-eight ...
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Acrolein
Acrolein is a toxic chemical that presents itself as a clear to yellowish liquid that evaporates quickly and is highly flammable. As it vaporizes, it ...
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Acrylonitrile
Acrylonitrile is a clear liquid that smells like onions or garlic. It is man-made as it does not naturally occur on Earth. It is used ...
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Arsenic
Arsenic is a naturally-occurring element found throughout the Earth’s crust. It is usually found combined with other elements creating a powder that is odorless and ...
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Artificial Christmas Tree
It’s the Christmas season, and because real pine trees can be cumbersome and high maintenance, many families use artificial Christmas trees. While artificial trees seem ...
Read More →
Asbestos
Asbestos is a group of fibrous minerals that can be found in the environment. The fibers of these minerals are strong, flexible, and heat-resistant, making ...
Read More →
Asphalt VOCs
Asphalt is made of a compacted “aggregate” mixed with a “binder.” The aggregate takes the wear-and-tear of traffic while providing a nonskid surface. It comes ...
Read More →
Atrazine
Atrazine is one of the most common herbicides used in the United States, with over 70 million pounds applied to crops each year. Used mostly ...
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Barium
Barium is a silver-colored metal which is found in the earth in compounds with other elements. Many barium compounds have industrial uses: barium sulfate is ...
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Benzene
Benzene is a colorless chemical with a sweet odor that is flammable and presents itself in liquid form at normal temperatures and pressures. It is ...
Read More →
Benzo(a)pyrene (BaP)
Benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) is a compound in a group of chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs like BaP are formed in the incomplete burning of ...
Read More →
Bisphenol A (BPA)
BPA stands for Bisphenol A and is a man-made chemical produced in large quantities for use primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastics. It is ...
Read More →
Cadmium
Cadmium is a heavy metal found naturally in the earth’s crust. It is usually found as a mineral combined with other elements such as oxygen, ...
Read More →
Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that is difficult to detect because it has no smell, taste, or color. It can be produced from both ...
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Chromium
Chromium is a metal element found in rock. A common form is called hexavalent chromium, used in manufacturing settings for textile dyeing, wood preservation, and ...
Read More →
Classic Toxicology No Longer Works
The dose makes the poison is the most basic principle of toxicology. The first chapter in every toxicology textbook discusses how the response to a ...
Read More →
Creosote
Creosote is a large mixture of chemicals that is used as a wood preservative in the United States, as well as for roofing, aluminum smelting, ...
Read More →
Cyanide
Cyanide is a chemical usually found in compounds with other chemicals. Cyanide compounds can be found in some bacteria, fungi, algae, and the seeds of ...
Read More →
Dealing with Uncertainty When Evaluating Toxicity​
In a recent issue, we discussed the many challenges in evaluating the adverse health effects that result from exposure to a mixture of toxic chemicals. ...
Read More →
Dioxin
Dioxins are a group of toxic compounds that share similar and distinct chemical structures. They are mainly byproducts of industrial processes, such as waste incineration. ...
Read More →
Dioxin in Food
Dioxins are a group of chemically related compounds formed as a byproduct of industrial processes such as water treatment, paper manufacturing, and waste incineration. If ...
Read More →
Endometrial Cancer & Pesticides​
Endometrial cancer is an increasingly common form of cancer in developed countries. There are both genetic and environmental risk factors associated with the development of ...
Read More →
Epigenetic Toxicity
The way scientists think about how chemicals cause their toxic effects is changing. Recent scientific research tells us that the traditional notion of how chemicals ...
Read More →
Ethlybenzene
Ethylbenzene is a colorless flammable liquid that comes from coal tar and petroleum. It is primarily used to synthesize chemicals that are used in plastics. ...
Read More →
Ethylene Oxide
Ethylene Oxide (EtO) is a colorless gas with a slightly sweet odor. It is used in making a variety of products including antifreeze, plastics, detergents, ...
Read More →
Exposures to Chemical Mixtures Matter​
Considering cumulative exposures to low levels mixtures of chemicals is an enormous challenge when evaluating the toxicity of chemicals. Neither the EPA nor ATSDR have ...
Read More →
Flooding
Massive flooding in the state of Kentucky in late July 2022 claimed the lives of 38 people – yet another example of extreme weather events ...
Read More →
Formaldehyde
Formaldehyde is a dangerous chemical that affects the respiratory system, lungs, eyes, and skin. It is classified as a carcinogen, hazardous substance, and hazardous waste. ...
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From Risk Assessment to Presumption
The last several issues of this series in Toxic Tuesday have addressed the difficulty in interpreting health risks when people are exposed to toxic chemicals. ...
Read More →
Glycophosate
Glyphosate is a chemical found in weed killer products such as RoundUpTM used on farms and home lawns. It gets absorbed by plant leaves, stopping ...
Read More →
Glyphosate Risks
Glyphosate is a chemical found in weed killer products like RoundUp used on farms and home lawns. 81% of American adults and children have detectable ...
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How Individual Sensitivity Affects Toxicity
We previously addressed individual variability and how it affects a person’s response to toxic chemicals. Another important factor in toxicology is a person’s individual sensitivity ...
Read More →
How Individual Variability Affects the Toxicity of Chemicals
It’s clear that not everyone responds to the same chemical exposures in the same way. There are many examples of this. The most striking is ...
Read More →
Hydraulic Fracturing
Hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as fracking) is a technique that uses pressurized liquid to fracture bedrock in order to the extract the oil or gas ...
Read More →
Hydrofracking: Radiation Risk
Hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, is a process for accessing gas and oil deep within the earth. The process involves creating a well and drilling about ...
Read More →
Hydrogen Sulfide
Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless gas that has a strong rotten egg odor. It is produced naturally by the decaying process of organic matter and ...
Read More →
Interpreting Health Risks
Radon is a colorless, tasteless and odorless gas that is radioactive and can cause cancer. It forms naturally when radioactive elements like uranium, thorium, or ...
Read More →
Isobutylene
Isobutylene is a colorless gas that comes from natural gas. Its highly reactive nature makes it useful in the synthesis of many products including gasoline, ...
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Lead
Lead is a naturally occurring element present in small amounts in the Earth’s crust. It has historically been used in many consumer products including gasoline, ...
Read More →
Lead in Public Housing
Lead is a naturally occurring metal that has been used in many household products like paint and plumbing materials. This makes people most likely to ...
Read More →
Manganese
Manganese is a naturally occurring metal found in the environment. It is present in most foods (especially grains and beans), and our bodies need small ...
Read More →
Mercury
Mercury is a naturally occurring metal that can be found in combination with other elements. It can be mined from the earth and also released ...
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Metals & Preterm Births
Over 10% of births worldwide are preterm, meaning delivery occurs earlier than 37 weeks of pregnancy. It is a leading cause of neonatal mortality, and ...
Read More →
Methylene chloride
Methylene chloride (also known as dichloromethane) is a manmade chemical that is a clear liquid with a faintly sweet smell. It is used as an ...
Read More →
Naphthalene
Naphthalene is a solid chemical that easily evaporates. It is commonly found in coal, mothballs, and the manufacturing of polyvinyl chloride. Manufacturing, industrial releases, improper ...
Read More →
Particulate Matter (PM)
Particulate matter (PM) is a mixture of chemicals, dust, and liquid droplets that can be emitted into the air from automobiles, power plants, construction sites, ...
Read More →

1,3-butadiene

1,3-butadiene is a gas made from petroleum and is used to manufacture materials like synthetic rubber and plastics. Because it is a gas, 1,3-butadiene can easily leak out of production, storage, or disposal containers and enter the air. People who work in or live near facilities using 1,3-butadiene are most

1,4-dichlorobenzene (1,4-DCB)

1,4-dichlorobenzene (1,4-DCB) – also known as p-dichlorobenzene (p-DCB) – is a colorless solid chemical that readily evaporates into the air. 1,4-DCB does not occur in nature, and it is often produced for use in deodorants or disinfectants because it has a strong odor that humans can smell at very low

1,4-dioxane

1,4-dioxane is a clear liquid used in chemical manufacturing for industrial, consumer, and military purposes. During manufacturing or improper waste disposal 1,4-dioxane can be released into the environment. While it breaks down in air and doesn’t stick to soil, 1,4-dioxane is stable in water and can remain there for a

2-Butanone

2-Butanone is an industrial chemical that is also known as methyl ethyl ketone (MEK). It manifests itself as a colorless liquid under standard conditions, tends to evaporate into the air (volatize) quickly, and is quite flammable. 2-Butanone is manufactured in large amounts for use in paints, glues, and other finishes

Acrolein

Acrolein is a toxic chemical that presents itself as a clear to yellowish liquid that evaporates quickly and is highly flammable. As it vaporizes, it has an unpleasant smell and tends to accumulate in low areas since it is heavier than air.
Inhaling airborne acrylonitrile can cause respiratory, skin, and

Acrylonitrile

Acrylonitrile is a clear liquid that smells like onions or garlic. It is man-made as it does not naturally occur on Earth. It is used to create other materials, most commonly acrylic fibers in clothing and carpeting. Acrylonitrile can enter the environment from industrial sites that produce it and waste

Arsenic

Arsenic is a naturally-occurring element found throughout the Earth’s crust. It is usually found combined with other elements creating a powder that is odorless and tasteless and can exist either in an organic or inorganic form. Inorganic arsenic compounds are highly toxic and for years were used to preserve wood.

Artificial Christmas Tree

It’s the Christmas season, and because real pine trees can be cumbersome and high maintenance, many families use artificial Christmas trees. While artificial trees seem like an easy and sustainable alternative, the materials they are made out of can pose health risks. Like many consumer products, artificial trees are often

Asbestos

Asbestos is a group of fibrous minerals that can be found in the environment. The fibers of these minerals are strong, flexible, and heat-resistant, making them useful when spun or woven into sheets. Asbestos was used in building materials, heat-resistant products, and machinery components. When these products break down, asbestos

Asphalt VOCs

Asphalt is made of a compacted “aggregate” mixed with a “binder.” The aggregate takes the wear-and-tear of traffic while providing a nonskid surface. It comes from rock quarries, natural gravel, and/or soil. The binder is a type of cement that holds the aggregate together in place and provides waterproofing. It

Atrazine

Atrazine is one of the most common herbicides used in the United States, with over 70 million pounds applied to crops each year. Used mostly in large scale agriculture of crops such as corn, sugarcane, and pineapples, atrazine is the most widely detected herbicide in drinking water. Figures vary, but

Barium

Barium is a silver-colored metal which is found in the earth in compounds with other elements. Many barium compounds have industrial uses: barium sulfate is used as a drilling lubricant by the oil and gas industries to facilitate drilling through rock; barium carbonate is a rat poison; and barium oxide

Benzene

Benzene is a colorless chemical with a sweet odor that is flammable and presents itself in liquid form at normal temperatures and pressures. It is part of a family of chemicals commonly referred to as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), mainly because they evaporate quickly when exposed to air. Although benzene

Benzo(a)pyrene (BaP)

Benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) is a compound in a group of chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs like BaP are formed in the incomplete burning of coal, oil, gas, or other organic matter. Once formed, they can enter the air, water and soil. The most common way people are exposed to

Bisphenol A (BPA)

BPA stands for Bisphenol A and is a man-made chemical produced in large quantities for use primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastics. It is found in a large number of everyday products such as eyewear, water bottles, and epoxy resins that coat some metal food cans, bottle tops, and

Cadmium

Cadmium is a heavy metal found naturally in the earth’s crust. It is usually found as a mineral combined with other elements such as oxygen, chlorine, or sulfur. Cadmium is used in many industries and is essential in the production of batteries, certain alloys, coatings, solar cells, plastic stabilizers, and

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that is difficult to detect because it has no smell, taste, or color. It can be produced from both natural and human-made sources when carbon fuel – such as gasoline, wood, coal, charcoal, propane, natural gas, or trash – is incompletely burned.

Chromium

Chromium is a metal element found in rock. A common form is called hexavalent chromium, used in manufacturing settings for textile dyeing, wood preservation, and metal plating. Through release and disposal of waste from these facilities, hexavalent chromium can end up in the surrounding water and soil. People can then

Classic Toxicology No Longer Works

The dose makes the poison is the most basic principle of toxicology. The first chapter in every toxicology textbook discusses how the response to a poison depends on how much of the poison you are exposed to (often referred to as the “dose”). This principle assumes that chemicals act by

Creosote

Creosote is a large mixture of chemicals that is used as a wood preservative in the United States, as well as for roofing, aluminum smelting, and road paving. Houston’s Fifth Ward has been pinpointed as a Cancer Cluster: an area that has a “greater than expected number of cancer cases,” largely

Cyanide

Cyanide is a chemical usually found in compounds with other chemicals. Cyanide compounds can be found in some bacteria, fungi, algae, and the seeds of stone fruits. One of the most dangerous cyanide compounds is hydrogen cyanide, a colorless gas that smells like almonds.

Dealing with Uncertainty When Evaluating Toxicity​

In a recent issue, we discussed the many challenges in evaluating the adverse health effects that result from exposure to a mixture of toxic chemicals. Despite this, scientists still estimate and assess risks by attempting to compensate for these uncertainties. This is done by assigning an uncertainty factor (UF) to

Dioxin

Dioxins are a group of toxic compounds that share similar and distinct chemical structures. They are mainly byproducts of industrial processes, such as waste incineration. In 1979, the EPA banned products containing Polychlorinated Bihphenyls (PCBs), which is a chemical included under the term dioxin. However, dioxins were a major issue

Dioxin in Food

Dioxins are a group of chemically related compounds formed as a byproduct of industrial processes such as water treatment, paper manufacturing, and waste incineration. If dioxins are not properly captured and stored, they can be released into the environment. Once released into the air, dioxins can travel thousands of miles.

Endometrial Cancer & Pesticides​

Endometrial cancer is an increasingly common form of cancer in developed countries. There are both genetic and environmental risk factors associated with the development of endometrial cancer, and changing the environmental risk factors may be the easiest way of reducing the incidence of endometrial cancer. Pesticides – mixtures of chemicals

Epigenetic Toxicity

The way scientists think about how chemicals cause their toxic effects is changing. Recent scientific research tells us that the traditional notion of how chemicals act is being replaced by a better understanding of the actual features of exposures that influence how chemicals express their adverse effects in people. These

Ethlybenzene

Ethylbenzene is a colorless flammable liquid that comes from coal tar and petroleum. It is primarily used to synthesize chemicals that are used in plastics. Ethylbenzene can also be used in fuels and injection fluid, which is used to release natural gas from the ground. It has industrial uses in

Ethylene Oxide

Ethylene Oxide (EtO) is a colorless gas with a slightly sweet odor. It is used in making a variety of products including antifreeze, plastics, detergents, and adhesives. It is also used as a sterilizer for medical equipment and others that cannot be sterilized by steam. Ethylene Oxide can be found

Exposures to Chemical Mixtures Matter​

Considering cumulative exposures to low levels mixtures of chemicals is an enormous challenge when evaluating the toxicity of chemicals. Neither the EPA nor ATSDR have guidance on how to evaluate exposure to multiple chemicals simultaneously, or cumulatively over time. The EPA does have its Risk-based Screening Levels (RSLs) that provide

Flooding

Massive flooding in the state of Kentucky in late July 2022 claimed the lives of 38 people – yet another example of extreme weather events driven by the indiscriminate burning of fossil fuels. We touched upon this broad issue in a previous Toxic Tuesday about the wildfires that scorched the

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a dangerous chemical that affects the respiratory system, lungs, eyes, and skin. It is classified as a carcinogen, hazardous substance, and hazardous waste. According to the American Cancer Society, Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong smelling gas used in making building materials and many common household products. It is

From Risk Assessment to Presumption

The last several issues of this series in Toxic Tuesday have addressed the difficulty in interpreting health risks when people are exposed to toxic chemicals. The last issue focused on the failure of the risk assessment approach to address these difficulties and the many critical limitations which make it inadequate

Glycophosate

Glyphosate is a chemical found in weed killer products such as RoundUpTM used on farms and home lawns. It gets absorbed by plant leaves, stopping plant growth within hours. Because of its effectiveness, glyphosate is found in widely used products that are easily obtainable. It is used all over the

Glyphosate Risks

Glyphosate is a chemical found in weed killer products like RoundUp used on farms and home lawns. 81% of American adults and children have detectable concentrations of glyphosate in their urine. While much is still unknown about the potential health risks of glyphosate exposure, two recently published studies illuminate how

How Individual Sensitivity Affects Toxicity

We previously addressed individual variability and how it affects a person’s response to toxic chemicals. Another important factor in toxicology is a person’s individual sensitivity to chemicals. How sensitive a person is to chemical exposure helps determine how susceptible or vulnerable they are to toxic chemicals. Several factors determine how

How Individual Variability Affects the Toxicity of Chemicals

It’s clear that not everyone responds to the same chemical exposures in the same way. There are many examples of this. The most striking is the person who smoked cigarettes for 30 years and never had breathing problems or developed lung cancer. A major factor in why this happens

Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as fracking) is a technique that uses pressurized liquid to fracture bedrock in order to the extract the oil or gas inside. The process installs a steel pipe into a well bore and injects fracking fluid into the deep layers of rock. Once the rock is

Hydrofracking: Radiation Risk

Hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, is a process for accessing gas and oil deep within the earth. The process involves creating a well and drilling about one mile deep into the ground. Once it has been dug deep enough, cement is poured into the opening around a steel pipe to create

Hydrogen Sulfide

Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless gas that has a strong rotten egg odor. It is produced naturally by the decaying process of organic matter and can also be released from crude petroleum, natural gas, and volcanic eruptions. Hydrogen sulfide is a very common gas that is generated in large farms

Interpreting Health Risks

Radon is a colorless, tasteless and odorless gas that is radioactive and can cause cancer. It forms naturally when radioactive elements like uranium, thorium, or radium break down. This element can then move around in the environment by migrating as a gas or by dissolving in moving groundwater.

The main health

Isobutylene

Isobutylene is a colorless gas that comes from natural gas. Its highly reactive nature makes it useful in the synthesis of many products including gasoline, rubber, plastics, resins, and other chemicals. Little toxicity information is known about isobutylene, and no occupational exposure limits are established, but exposure can cause irritation,

Lead

Lead is a naturally occurring element present in small amounts in the Earth’s crust. It has historically been used in many consumer products including gasoline, paint, plumbing materials, batteries, and cosmetics. This makes lead common all around us, in the air, water, soil, and buildings. Exposure to lead most commonly

Lead in Public Housing

Lead is a naturally occurring metal that has been used in many household products like paint and plumbing materials. This makes people most likely to be exposed to lead in their own homes, through ingesting or inhaling contaminated paint, dust, or water. Lead exposure affects all organs but is particularly

Manganese

Manganese is a naturally occurring metal found in the environment. It is present in most foods (especially grains and beans), and our bodies need small amounts of it to function. Manganese is also used in manufacturing, most commonly to improve the strength of steel. Manufacturing use and improper disposal can

Mercury

Mercury is a naturally occurring metal that can be found in combination with other elements. It can be mined from the earth and also released as a byproduct from industrial facilities that manufacture chemicals. If mercury waste is not disposed of properly, it can enter the air, soil, and water.

Metals & Preterm Births

Over 10% of births worldwide are preterm, meaning delivery occurs earlier than 37 weeks of pregnancy. It is a leading cause of neonatal mortality, and evidence suggests that exposure to heavy metals from the environment could be a risk factor. In the US, a major source of exposure to metals

Methylene chloride

Methylene chloride (also known as dichloromethane) is a manmade chemical that is a clear liquid with a faintly sweet smell. It is used as an industrial solvent and an ingredient in paint strippers, so it is often used in commercial and do-it-yourself home improvement projects. Methylene chloride dissolves into the

Naphthalene

Naphthalene is a solid chemical that easily evaporates. It is commonly found in coal, mothballs, and the manufacturing of polyvinyl chloride. Manufacturing, industrial releases, improper disposal of industrial waste, and consumer use can release naphthalene into the environment. Once released, naphthalene can evaporate into the surrounding air, dissolve in water,

Particulate Matter (PM)

Particulate matter (PM) is a mixture of chemicals, dust, and liquid droplets that can be emitted into the air from automobiles, power plants, construction sites, smokestacks, and fires. When people breathe contaminated air, this PM gets lodged into people’s lungs and bloodstream. This worsens pre-existing lung diseases and can even