Chemicals and Effects Upon Health

Health disorders resulting from petroleum-based chemicals used in consumer products, pesticides and job environments are available from the links below.  Petroleum based chemicals are being found to cause accelerated aging to the brain, defense systems including the blood brain barrier and immune system as well as altering critical hormones necessary for teenage neurological and behavioral development. Illnesses identified in the medical research include adult and child cancers, numerous neurological disorders, immune system weakening, autoimmune disorders, asthma, allergies, infertility, miscarriage, and child behavior disorders including learning disabilities, mental retardation, hyperactivity ADHD (attention deficit disorders) as well as altering hormones essential for maintaining healthy bodily processes.  Petroleum based chemicals are believed to cause these problems by a variety of routes including – impairing proper DNA (Gene) expression, weakening DNA Repair, accelerating gene loss, degeneration of the body’s detoxification defenses (liver and kidneys) as well as gradual weakening of the brain’s primary defense (the Blood Brain Barrier).  Of significant concern, while petroleum based chemicals are required by the U.S. Government (EPA) to be tested for a variety of health effects, they are not required to be tested for subtle neurological damage (memory, personality, behavior etc.), damage to the developing brain during pregnancy, detailed immune system effects, autoimmunity and effects upon the brain’s primary defense – the blood brain barrier.  Also, the new toxicology field of endocrine disruptor chemicals is of extreme importance since many common chemicals and pesticides are now being found to alter normal hormone levels in the blood controlling development and aging. The majority of information at CHEM-TOX has been attained from research from the University of Florida and University of South Florida Medical Libraries.  Every attempt has been made to provide information clearly and accurately – The medical/scientific journal name and date, along with the university and scientists involved in the research are listed with each article.  We hope this information provides a base for changes in public health policy in public buildings, schools, residential settings (i.e. condominiums), and help with guiding future city and state laws.  All research cited can be acquired in its original form from public libraries using the “Inner Library Loan Program” and can often be acquired immediately from university medical libraries (i.e. Shands Library at University of Florida in Gainesville).

Chemicals and Effects Upon Health

Chemicals and Effects Upon Health

Pesticides in Homes & Lawns Showing Serious Health Risks

Common pesticides used in homes and lawns are now being shown in medical research to accelerate aging of the immune and nervous system resulting in serious health problems years after exposure.  Companies which use these chemicals include TruGreen – ChemLawn – Orkin and others.   Of significant concern, agriculture and consumer use pesticides are not currently required to be tested for subtle neurological effects (i.e. memory, depression, behavior) – child learning disorders – pregnancy developmental studies and immune system effects (i.e. lower white blood counts – increased infection rates and autoimmunity).  New research summaries have been added showing how pesticides are now being found to mimic natural hormones in the body (i.e. testosterone, progesterone, estradiol), thereby, damaging hormone controlled processes of brain development in children and normal aging in adults.

Learning Disabilities – A.D.D on the Rise – Pregnancy Warnings

A growing number of scientists are providing strong evidence as to why we are seeing more and more children with learning and behavior disorders over the past 30 years.  Their conclusions are straight forward – exposure of the developing child to even small levels of common everyday chemicals can result in learning or behavior problems evident throughout life.  This information is a result of a 1997 Graduate Research Project from University of South Florida investigating environmental and “chemical” causes of Learning Disabilities. New research on the dangers of the mosquito control pesticides DIBROM (Naled) and the parathyroid pesticide PERMETHRIN are reported from six medical journals.  Health risks found include genetic damage – cancer potential – neurotoxic dangers to unborn children – and harm to marine life.  Researchers also find pesticide applications appear to be dramatically increasing the incidence of encephalitis carrying mosquitoes.  Theories regarding this include immune system damage to wildlife and genetic damage to the mosquito’s inherent defenses.

Child Cancer & Relationship to Modern Chemicals

Evidence demonstrating how chemical exposures occurring in and around the home can greatly increase the risk of brain cancer, neuroblastoma & leukemia.   Also “NEW” research on immune system defects found in cancer children which can determine if “remission” is likely to occur.

Here is a list of common household chemicals and their possible health effects:

  • Air-freshening agents can cause eye, skin, and nasal irritation, cancer, nervous system damage, and respiratory problems including pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs).
  • Antifreeze can cause dizziness if inhaled and severe damage to internal organs, including the heart and kidneys, if swallowed. Animals are drawn to the sweet smell of antifreeze, and it can be fatal for pets if ingested.
  • Car and boat batteries can cause skin burns, as well as kidney and nerve damage and possibly cancer due to their lead and sulfuric acid content.
  • Bleach can cause irritation to the nasal passages, mouth and lungs, and damage to the skin.
  • Carpet and upholstery cleaners can cause liver damage, cataracts, and possibly cancer from long-term exposure. These cleaners may also trigger dizziness, confusion, decreased appetite, and nausea.
  • Cleaning products can cause eye and lung irritation from inhaling fumes, and rashes or burns from skin exposure. Potentially lethal gases may form if cleaners like ammonia are mixed with bleach.
  • Drain openers can cause skin burns and possible blindness if they get in the eyes.
  • Flea and tick treatments can cause cancer in pets, as well as headaches, nausea, and dizziness if inhaled by people.
  • Furniture polish can cause respiratory, skin, and eye irritation, as well as vomiting and nausea if ingested.
  • Insect bombs, like household foggers, can cause severe allergic reactions, nervous system damage, and respiratory, skin, and eye irritation, as well as headache, nausea, vomiting, and ringing in the ears.
  • Laundry detergents can cause eye and skin irritation, as well as nausea, vomiting, and seizures if ingested.
  • Oven cleaners can cause severe burns to the eyes and skin, and even death if swallowed.
  • Insecticides and insect traps with bait can cause cancer in pets; headaches, nausea, and dizziness if inhaled by humans.
  • Mold and mildew-killing products can cause respiratory problems, and severe irritation and burns to the throat if ingested.
  • Mothballs can cause liver damage and cataracts from long-term exposure, as well as skin, throat, and eye irritation, dizziness, and headaches.
  • Motor oil can cause damage to nerves and kidneys and has been linked to cancer.
  • Toilet bowl cleansers can cause skin burns, eye and respiratory tract irritation, and possibly cancer.

Safety First With Household Chemicals

Household chemicals are generally safe to use — if used appropriately. Ensure that you always follow the instructions on the product label. Protect your skin with gloves, wear long shirts and pants, and use safety goggles when necessary. Also make sure the area where you are using household chemicals is well ventilated, so that you don’t inhale too many fumes.

Read ingredient labels on all household chemicals before you buy them — so you understand just how dangerous they can be and how to protect yourself. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, consumers should pay special attention to products whose labels include words like corrosive, toxic, and flammable, as well as poison, danger, and caution. Be sure to store household chemicals safely in a locked closet or cabinet that children and pets can’t access.

Chemicals and Effects Upon Health

Chemicals and Effects Upon Health

Protecting the Environment from Household Chemicals

Now that you know what certain household chemicals can do your health, think about what they can do to the environment if they’re not handled properly.

Don’t simply pour household chemicals down the sink, toss bottles into the trash can, or dump waste outside in the yard. These chemicals can pose a danger to trash collectors, as well as to plant life and the water supply.

To find out how to safely dispose of your household chemicals, always read the label on the back of the product and follow the recommended instructions. Hazardous chemicals that can’t be included with regular trash need to be set aside and brought to a community hazardous waste collection facility or to a special collection event like an annual clean-up drive. Check with local government agencies for details about how to dispose of specific household chemicals.


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