Most Harmful Effects of Chemicals to Living Things in Our Daily Life

What are chemicals?

Chemicals are any substances (pure or mixture) consisting of matter. It includes liquid, solid, and gases. Chemicals may occur naturally or can be made artificially.

Naturally-occurring chemicals

Naturally-occurring chemicals are chemicals that we can found naturally in the environment without any changes of chemical composition in the extraction process. There are many naturally-occurring chemicals that we can found in our daily life. Some of them can be seen as listed below.

1. Mercury

Mercury is a naturally-occurring chemical element with the symbol Hg and atomic number of 80. It is also known as quicksilver because of its silver liquid. The symbol of mercury, Hg, was derived from its Latin word hydrargyrum, which means watery silver.

The discovery of mercury is dated back in the 1500 BC, which was found in the ancient Egyptian tomb. Mercury was used in the industry for batteries, fluorescent light, and thermometers. But, those usages have already been replaced by other materials.

2. Arsenic

Arsenic is a chemical element that we can found naturally-occurring in many minerals. Some of them can be found in combination with other elements (such as sulfur and metals). Some of them can also be found as a pure elemental crystal. Arsenic has the symbol As and an atomic number of 33.

It was discovered and obtained by Albertus Magnus in 1250. Arsenic is known to be poisonous. It is used today as a doping agent in semiconductors for solid state drive (SSD). Arsenic can also be used as a compound to preserve wood. Read: Harmful Chemicals That Can Kill You

3. Asbestos

Asbestos is a naturally-occurring fibrous mineral substance that can be pulled into a fluffy consistency. Asbestos is soft and flexible, but they are extremely durable. They have the ability to resist heat, electricity, and even chemical corrosion. Asbestos is commonly used for insulation in building and one of the choices you can choose for your roofing materials.

4. Pyrite

Pyrite is the most common sulfide minerals that occur naturally. It is also known as fool’s gold because of its metallic luster and pale brass yellow hue that gives it a resemblance of gold. Pyrite was used to be very important in the production sulfur or sulfuric acids.

5. Silica

Silica, or Silicon dioxide, is a naturally-occurring compound that is made of the most common elements on earth, Oxygen and Silicon. Silica is commonly found in the nature as quartz. They can also be found in various living organisms.

6. Radon

Radon is a naturally-occurring element that has the symbol Rn and an atomic number of 86. It is considered as a radioactive element. Radon is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless element. Due to its radioactive nature and it decays into radioactive polonium and alpha particles, Radon are commonly used in medical field as a material for cancer therapy.

7. Artificially-made chemicals

Artificially-made chemicals are chemicals that are made synthetically by human. Read: Harmful List of Artificial Sweeteners You Should Avoid

Harmful effects of chemicals to living things

Even though chemicals can be beneficial at times, there are also effects of chemicals that can be dangerous or harmful to the living things. Some chemicals may also be more hazardous than the others. Chemical toxic can enter human body through several ways, such as ingestion, absorption, inhalation, and injection. Ingestion means that the chemical enters the body by swallowing.

Ingestion toxicity may be caused by eating a contaminated food by the toxic chemical. Absorption means that the chemical made a contact and absorbed by the eyes or skin. The effect of a chemical absorption may be local or even spread throughout the body.

Inhalation means that a chemical can get into the body by being inhaled through the air that is contaminated. Injection means that a chemical or a substance enters the body when a skin is punctured by a sharp object. List of dangerous chemicals and harmful effects of chemicals to living things as listed below:

1. Digoxin

Digoxin is a chemical that is extracted from the digitalis lanata plant leaves. In a correct dose, it is used to treat heart failure. But, Digoxin has many side effects upon its usage. Some of them can be seen as listed below.

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  •  Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Skin rash
  • Mental changes

In a larger dose, Digoxin can also cause more serious side effects, such as:

  • Heart block
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Slow heart rate


2. Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical compound that is usually used as an antiseptic to prevent infection of minor cuts and burns on skin. It is also used as a mouthwash to remove mucus or to relive irritation. But, despite its beneficial use, it has very serious side effects.

Hydrogen peroxide may show a sign of skin infection. It can also cause an allergic reaction, such as rash, itching or swelling (especially on the face, tongue, or throat), and hard in breathing. Read: Uses of Hydrogen Peroxide

3. Ethylene glycol

There are several harmful effects of chemicals to living things. Ethylene glycol is a chemical compound that is usually used as car antifreeze due to its cheap price. However, ethylene glycol is a very harmful chemical. This chemical can knock out our organ systems systematically over 72 hours when ingested in a large amount.

4. Sodium cyanide

Sodium cyanide is a white solid inorganic compound that is water-soluble. It is usually used in the mining industry to extract gold (or any other precious metals) from their ore. Despite that, Sodium cyanide is a highly poisonous chemical. A small amount of ingestion can be very lethal to human. Some side effects of Sodium cyanide poisoning can be seen as listed below.

  • Giddiness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling of neck constriction
  • Suffocation
  • Confusion
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety

5. Oxycontin

Oxycontin, or Oxycodone hydrochloride, is a chemical compound that is usually used as a moderate-to-severe pain management drugs. It is available as a generic drug. But, Oxycontin can also bring side effects to people who consume it. Some of the side effects can be seen as listed below.

  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Sleepiness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Itching
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Decreasing in the ability to feel pain

Oxycontin can also cause more chronic effect, in which that case happens, you are suggested to tell a doctor. Serious side effects of Oxycontin include:

  • Respiratory depression
  • Apnea
  • Circulatory depression
  • Hypotension
  • Shock
  • Death

Thus, that’s all the harmful effects of chemicals to living things that we need to avoid.