Resources for parents of at-risk and troubled teens.



February 2010

Concerns on Environmental Health

by Staff, on affect, chemical, clean, concerns, disinfectants, dispose, environment, environmental health concerns, exposure, harm, health, human beings, paint, tox town, toxic, toxic materials, waste

Environmental health concerns refer to all aspects that affect the relationship between the environment and those who inhabit them ( The major health concerns include air quality, safety of body art materials such as tattoo ink and permanent body cosmetics such as implants, lead poisoning in children, the effects of climate change on human health and many other aspects of the natural and built environment.

There is constant exposure of human beings to toxic materials in the environment, starting from homes to offices and many other areas of living. It is of utmost importance to identify these toxic materials and learn to clean up or avoid them to prevent adverse effects on health.

Cleaners, pesticides and fragrances are common toxic materials that human beings use on a regular basis. Cleaning materials such as disinfectants, toilet and window cleaners, spot removers and septic tank cleaners contain corrosive chemicals that can cause skin irritations, poisoning or even death if swallowed. These materials should be disposed of properly because they also harm plants and animals.

Painting substances such as oil based paints, thinners, solvents, wood preservatives and even artist paints and inks can cause respiratory damage to those in contact with them over a prolonged period of time. The chemical composition of these products is harmful and one should take utmost care when handling them.

Mercury is a component of materials such as cleaning agents, electronic equipment and fluorescent bulbs. Spillage, use or disposal of mercury over a long period of time can have negative consequences on human beings such as damaging the brain, liver and bones of human beings. This chemical is now getting phased out of use by safer alternatives, but one should still be cautious when coming into contact with them.

Vinyl plastic (PVC), despite its uses in plastic gloves, IV bags and other more common materials, poses a threat to environmental health. Especially in the medical field, PVC has been known to affect patients if it leaches through the IV bags. Its non-biodegradable nature also affects the environment negatively as the only way to dispose of them is through burning which causes air pollution.

Negative environmental concerns can be handled through government and private organizations as well as policies implemented to guard against or manage toxic wastes. These include food protection, housing policies, land use, noise control, waste management and water sanitation. Individuals also have a role to play in preventing the use of toxic materials.

First, if alternatives are available, it is best to use mild or moderate disinfectants in terms of chemical content. Also, avoiding long-term exposure to paint fumes or car exhaust fumes is also advisable. “Going Green” is another method of minimizing the use and exposure to toxic materials. Cutting down on energy consumption, recycling and reusing waste materials responsibly can also help with managing environmental health concerns. contains more details about toxic materials in the environment and in specific regions of the world. In addition, the National Library of Medicine website,, also has an interactive method that gives assistance in identifying toxic materials in neighborhoods, cities, towns and other regions in the environment. Staff