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                              Hazardous  Substances

This website focuses on how various hazardous substances cause chemical injury and how to prevent chemical injuries.  What follows are medical literature summaries of some more common exposures. There are many more hazardous chemicals, with thousands of new chemicals introduced each year, most with totally inadequate information on many serious, long-term effects.

Chemicals are NOT TYPICALLY TESTED for brain, immune, and hormonal effects, and often not tested for cancer, neurodegenerative, or autoimmune effects.

Due to the great cost of human studies, important organ functions are often missed:

Ř   Brain, neurologic

Ř   Endocrine, reproductive

Ř   Immune

Unfortunately, these functions are often damaged by chemicals that have been thoroughly studied. Furthermore, all fat soluble chemicals can enter the brain, and chemical brain damage can readily damage both endocrine and immune function. This is discussed  in more detail in Chemical Brain Injury, by Dr. K. Kilburn, Van Nostrand Reinhold, and the layperson’s version, Endangered Brain,  Dr. K. Kilburn, Princeton Scientific Publishing.  Both books are out of print but can be located online.

Inadequate testing greatly limits knowledge for prevention, choosing safer substances and technologies, and linking damage to exposure for affected persons. Too often limited research dollars are used to further “study” already well known hazards, while neglecting research on the vast majority of toxic chemicals. Only citizen action can help change these practices and promote a healthier  world.

Brain injury is summarized on the website in Toxic Encephalopathy. Irritant effects of chemicals are  discussed in Reactive Airway Disease and Neural Sensitization.


You can help by:

Ř   Insisting that hazardous substances and their early  warning symptoms/effects be clearly listed on all container labels in size and location that is easy to read.

Ř   Asking that least hazardous chemicals and procedures be  used.

Ř   Demanding that chemical sales and promotion personnel have and use an adequate database of health effects, receive adequate  training on health effects of products and inform all buyers.

Ř   Working to require chemical and chemical product manufacturers to ensure that their products are safe: there is no price on human life and health.


Exposure limits are inadequate:

Medical literature describes severe scientific inadequacy in legal exposure limits, known as Threshold Limit Values (TLVs), which are used for workplace regulation and as data in air quality reports. This same medical literature has found serious health effects occur below these inadequate legal exposure limits.  Articles on these Threshold Limit Values are available on this web site for your convenience through the following link:

Roach and Rapport “But they are not thresholds: A critical Analysis of the Threshold Limit Values,” American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 17: 727-753, 1990 (.pdf).


Ziem and Castleman articles:

Guest editorial:  “Toxic Pollutants, Science, and Corporate Influence,” Archives of Environmental Health, 44: p.68, 1989. (.pdf)

Letter to the Editor, Applied Industrial Hygiene, 3: p.F33, Sept. 1988.

“Corporate Influence on the Threshold Limit Values,”American Journal of Industrial Medicine 13: 531-559, 1988. (.pdf)

Threshold  Limit Values: Historical Perspectives and Current Practice,” Journal of Occupational Medicine 31: 910-918, 1989. (.pdf)



Acetates: Irritants which also effect the central nervous system

Acrylic Resins: Sensitizers and irritants

Arsenic: Found in pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, and various alloys

Carbonless Copy Paper: Known to cause irritation in the respiratory tract and skin

Carbon Monoxide: Recent scientific research shows body damage at very low levels of carbon monoxide, suggesting there is no known safe level of carbon monoxide exposure.

Carpets: Emit volatile organic compounds (VOC's) which are neurotoxins and respiratory irritants

Chemical Mixtures: Toxic interactions can result from exposures to multiple solvents or petroleum-chemicals

Chlorinated Inorganic Compounds: Include household bleach and swimming pool chemcials

Chlorpyrifos/Dursban: Are potent organophosphate neurotoxins used in pesticides, which can cause long term, persistant neurologic and neurotoxic damage to humans

Combustion Products: Include auto and truck exhaust, oil and gas furnaces, propane grills, anything that burns can cause lung, heart, and genetic damage

Consumer Products: Many can induce or exacerbate significant respiratory effects

Copper: Inhaling copper dust or fumes can result in changes in the lungs that resemble silicosis

Cyclohexane: Solvent, varnish and paint remover, and used in the manufacture of nylon

Diazinon: Potent organophosphate pesticide neurotoxin that disrupts the nervous system by interfering with nerve transmitters

Dichlorobenzene (paradichlorobenzene): Used in most modern mothballs as a replacement for napthalene

Diesel: Can increase repiratory inflammation, cause lung disease, and brain impairment

Dimethyl Ether: toxic to the brain

Epoxies: Irritants and sensitizers

Formaldehyde: Very common in building and consumer product, and can cause asthmatic and other symptoms

Genetics and Chemical Illness: Detoxification impairment is common in people with chemical sensitivity and chemical illness.

Glycol Ethers: Solvents used in many products, including paints, degreasers, cosmetics, and perfumes

Hexane (n-hexane): Solvent used in gasoline, shoes, furniture finishing products, and many other products

Hydrogen Sulfide: Highly toxic and flammable gas produced as a by-product of oil refineries and other industries

Isocyanates: Respiratory sensitizer, which can cause asthma

Isofenphos: Highly toxic organophosphate pesticide, which can cause long-term nervous system damage

Malathion: Highly toxic organophosphate pesticide, which can cause long-term nervous system damage

Methanol: Methyl alcohol, which, in the body, breaks down into more toxic formic acid and formaldehyde

Methyl Bromide:  A highly toxic fumigant

Methylene Chloride: Solvent used in many ways, including as a degreaser, paint remover, and in the coffee decaffeination process

Mineral Spirits: Used commonly as a mild solvent and paint thinner, can induce persisting fatigue

Molds and Chronic Illness: Molds and Chronic Illness: Certain molds can cause respiratory and neurotoxic effects

Naphtha (see Petroleum Distillates): Solvents used in many industrial processes and consumer products

Organophosphates: Developed by Germany in WWII as nerve gas agents, now used in insecticides

Organotin Compounds: Used in making PVC, wood preservation products, and as biostats

Particle Exposure: Such as from diesel can cause lung irritation, and, if small enough, can enter the blood stream

Perfume Scented Products and Chemical Injury: Perfume, Scented Products and Chemical Injury: 95% of the ingredients in fragrances are synthetic petrochemicals, among which are irritants and neurotoxins as shown by the EPA

Perchlorethylene [Tetrachloroethylene]: Central nervous system depressant used in dry cleaning and as a degreaser

Peracetic Acid: An antimicrobial and bleaching agent

Permanent Press and Other Formaldehyde Treated Fabrics: Can cause dermatitis and eczema; eye, nose, and throat irritation; and headaches

Pest Control: Information on safe pest control for your workplace, home, and schools.

Pesticides and Immune Effects: Include immune impairment, altered estrogen metabolism, and neuromuscular changes

Pesticides and Chemical Injury: The increased risk from pesticide exposure of cancer, auto immune disease, sensitization, brain damage, hormonal effects, as well as exposure symptoms

Phenol: Uses include manufacture of weedkillers, synthetic resins, drugs, and antiseptics, and is highly toxic to the brain

Piperonyl Butoxide: Added to pesticides to make them more toxic

Propylene Glycol Monomethyl Ether: Used as a solvent in making inks, dyes, stains, cellulose, acrylics, and other products, with liver damage resulting from repeated exposure

Pyrethrin Pesticides: Potent sensitizers of the skin and respiratory tract, and in the brain can cause convulsions

Pyrethroids: Pesticides which can over-excite the nervous system, altering the function of the nerves and brain

Sick Buildings: Indoor air pollution that leads to illness

Toluene/Xylene: Solvents, which the body has great difficulty metabolizing and eliminating

Toxic Pollutants, Science, and Corporate Influence: Concerns ambient air standards for toxic pollutants

Trichloroethane (1,1,1-Trichloroethane): Compound responsible for ozone depletion

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