Seven Adverse Health Effects that Harmful Chemicals in the Environment Cause

We come into contact with chemicals every day, but some chemical exposures are not safe. Harmful chemicals can get into your body if you breathe, eat, or drink them or if they are absorbed through your skin. Chemicals can move through air, soil, and water from various sources like landfills, tanks, drums, or factories. Adverse health effects can happen through exposure to the following contaminants: 

1. Respiratory system: Asbestos, radon, cadmium, benzene, carbon monoxide.

2. Your body's function is to rid waste, including kidneys, bladder, and the urethra: Cadmium, lead, mercury, uranium, and chlorinated solvents (TCE, PCE, PCT).

3. Affect the heart, blood, arteries, and veins: Carbon monoxide, carbon disulfide, nitrates, methylene chloride.

4. Affect the immune system: Mercury, lead, pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

5. Reproductive system: Methyl mercury, carbon monoxide, and lead.

6. Affect the nervous system: Arsenic, cadmium, carbon monoxide, cyanide.

7. For the skin: Nickel, mercury, arsenic, chromium, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and VOC (volatile organic compounds).

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Stel Bailey

Stel Bailey is a nationally recognized environmental health advocate working to protect natural resources, the health of communities, service members from toxic exposures, and children from the impacts of harmful pollution. She is a cancer cluster survivor, globally published photographer, mom of two, water enthusiast, and adventurer. Find her on TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram @StelBailey and on

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