11 Harmful Chemicals in the Environment – Compound and Effects

As we know, chemicals have big contribution to human and other organism living system. Chemicals has taken many parts in our life. They can make our life easier with its benefits to our health. However, there are also some chemicals which contain toxic and may endanger the living organisms. These harmful chemicals in the environment can cause some adverse effects in health for both human, animal and other species. In this article, we will cover some of the common harmful chemicals in the environment that can possibly create serious problem to our life.

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1. Biocide 

Biocide is actually chemical possessing the active substance which able to fight against the harmful organisms like bacteria or pests. You may find the biocide in the domestic products like rodenticides, disinfectants, repellent or insecticides. Biocide is also in use in the industrial and agricultural field to protect the natural products from the external damage.

However, biocide may cause the serious problems in human health. Biocide may contain the harmful chemical in the environment. It can possibly cause the cancer, reproduction system issues and endocrine system problems. While pesticide is the chemical which is used to control the harmful organisms like insects or weeds. Just like biocide, pesticide also has the possible adverse effect to our health. Pesticide may led to some dreadful diseases like cancer, fertility and reproduction problems and respiratory disease. Pesticide can also disrupt the hormone system, nervous system and immune system.

2. Pesticide

One of the popular containment in the pesticide is DDT. DDT or dichloro diphenyl trichloro-ethane is the pesticide chemical which can control the development of insect in the agriculture fields. However, this chemical may also harm our health because of its harmful chemical properties. DDT can contaminate food chain and will stay for many decades in the environment.

DDT is also included in the Persistent Organic Pollutant type chemical. DDT can also cause the problems in animals health like bald eagle, peregrine falcon and other birds species. DDT can make the eggs shells of these birds significantly thin. This condition will decrease the survival level of the chicks. This is the reason why DDT can harm the live of certain living organisms. Thus, some pesticides substance contains harmful chemicals in the environment.

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Persistent Organic Pollutant

Persistent Organic Pollutant or POP is the chemical substance which will contaminate the environment for long time. These type of substance will stay in the tissue of living organism including human. You may possibly find the high dose of POP in our foods. Chemicals in the POP group has the toxic containment and can highly harm human’s health and also environment. Persistent Organic Pollutants can cause some dreadful health problems like cancer, neurological issues, immune system and birth problems. Here are some common harmful chemicals in the environment which are included in the Persistent Organic Pollutant type:

3. PCDD/Fs dioxins

This chemical substance has the chemical name of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans. This PCDD/F dioxins has serious effect to both human and animals in even very low level. PCDD/Fs dioxins can possibly lead to some serious diseases like cancer, hormone system problems and reproduction system problem. In the hormone system, the dioxins may attack the endocrine hormone system. They also have possibility to disrupt human development and reproduction system. PCDD/Fs dioxins are reported to be found mostly in the birds and mammals rather than the fishes. This harmful chemical substance may contaminate our food chain and affect people who consume the contaminated foods including fish dishes.

4. PCBs

PCB or polychlorinated biphenyls is one of the common POP which has the adverse effect in health for both people and animals. PCBs can possibly create severe diseases like cancer and problems in nervous system, reproduction system and immune system. PCBs can infect the food and further contaminate people who eat the foods. PCBs can attack thyroid hormone level in human and animal. This will inhibit the development and growth in the human and animals. Please do make sure that your children will not consume food with PCSs contamination.

5. PBDE flame retardants

PBDE or polybrominated diphenyl ethers is the chemical substance which can harm living organism including human. PBDE flame retardant can affect the reproduction and development system in many organisms. You may find this harmful chemical in the food chain. PBDE flame retardant will infect the living organisms like fish and may attack human who eat that fish.

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Heavy Metals – Mercury, Cadmium, Lead

We can define heavy metals as the metal elements which have the high density and contain toxic in the small amount of concentration. The three popular heavy metal examples are mercury, cadmium and lead. So, here’re the description of these harmful chemicals in the environment.

6. Mercury

Mercury element comes originally from natural resources like volcanoes and human products. The source of mercury from human activities are from mining, smelting, fossil fuel burning and special product making. The combustion of this metallic element has increased its concentration in our atmosphere now. Through the raining process, mercury can possibly be deposited in the land and the water which will further contaminate our body. Some of the mercury element will convert its form to the methyl mercury.

It is the compound which has higher stability level which will affect the water and marine life. The common exposure of this harmful chemical element is from foods, especially in the seafood dishes. The methyl mercury has high possibility to contaminate some fishes which can cause serious health problems to those who eat these contaminated fishes. The high concentration of mercury can be so dreadful for human body.

Even in the very low amount, mercury can cause the problem in human’s nervous system, cardiovascular, immune and reproductive system. Because its harmful effect to the nervous system and brain, mercury is often called neurotoxin. Mercury can also be dangerous for human kidney and liver. Mercury is also possible to cause cancer.

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7. Cadmium

In the environment, cadmium may come from the fossil fuel burning like coal and oil. It can also come from the incineration of public waste. This harmful metal element can also be found in the air from the production of certain metals or the nickel cadmium batteries.

Just like mercury, cadmium is really harmful in its very low concentration. It takes longer time to expel cadmium from your body and in this time, this chemical compound can cause serious health issues like intestinal damage, problems in your digestive system, kidney problems and bone disease.

Cadmium can easily harm the fresh water organisms while the marine populations are way more resistant to the cadmium. However, cadmium can infect shellfish and it the certain level, it can be very harmful for people who eat this infected shellfish.

8. Lead

Lead is actually the natural metal element existing in our environment. However, you will find this harmful chemical mostly from the human activities. The common productions of lead are from construction and manufacturing industry. People can also add lead to the gasoline and domestic products like ammunition. Other industries also often use lead as its resources like the glass manufacturing.

We know led as the persistent bio-accumulative toxic chemical type. It means that the past use of lead can continuously infect people and other organisms. Lead can contaminate our soils through the its deposition from air. Lead can also directly discharge from waste to water, mining products and erosion. This dreadful metal element can enter your body though the inhalation or ingestion.

If you directly inhale the lead contaminated air, it will go directly to your bloodstream and significantly affect your nervous system. Lead can cause severe health problems like brain development issues (especially in children), high blood pressure, reproduction system problems and behavioral problems.

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Other Harmful Metallic Elements

Here are more harmful chemicals in the environment that we commonly use in everyday life:

9. Copper 

Besides those three heavy metals, we also know other metal element which are harmful to our bodies like copper and zinc. Unlike the mercury, lead or cadmium, copper is actually not really harmful in its low concentration. We use copper mainly in our domestic products and many human activities. Even in the low concentration, people use copper to threat salmon and other fishes special condition. However, copper may also be harmful in the specific level.

10. Zinc 

While zinc can be harmful to the fishes like salmon. Zinc can contaminate the salmon especially the younger salmon. This metallic compound can possibly kill the young salmon. In its relative high concentration, zinc can also kill other adult fishes.

11. Arsenic 

We also know arsenic as one of the dreadful chemical. Arsenic is actually neither metal or non metal element, it’s the the metalloid type element. Metalloid element is the element which has the mix of metal and non-metal properties. Arsenic and its compound can be the potential poison to human. Arsenic often contaminate the water supplies having the close location with the mines. Arsenic can create the serious problem in human metabolism system. It can attack human metabolism system in the cellular level. This harmful chemical can cause the death in many mammal organisms.

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