Health Topics

Poisoning toxicology environmental health

Environmental Health
National Library of Medicine

Our environment affects our health. If parts of the environment, like the air, water, or soil become polluted, it can lead to health problems. For example, asthma pollutants and chemicals in the air or in the home can trigger asthma attacks.

Some environmental risks are a part of the natural world, like radon in the soil. Others are the result of human activities, like lead poisoning from paint, or exposure to asbestos or mercury from mining or industrial use.

NIH: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences


Environmental Health
Poisoning, Toxicology, Environmental Health
Our environment affects our health. If parts of the environment, like the air, water, or soil become polluted, it can lead to health problems. For example, ...
Climate Change
National Library of Medicine
Global Warming

Climate is the average weather in a place over a period of time. Climate change is major change in temperature, rainfall, snow, or wind patterns lasting for many years. It can be caused by natural factors or by human activities. Today climate changes are occurring at an increasingly rapid rate.

Climate change can affect our health. It can lead to

  • More heat-related illness and deaths
  • More pollen, mold, and air pollution. This can cause an increase in allergies, asthma, and breathing problems.
  • Mosquitoes and other insects that carry diseases spreading to areas that used to be too cold for them.
  • More floods and rising sea levels. This can cause an increase in contamination of food and water.
  • More extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and wildfires. These can cause death, injuries, stress, and mental health problems.

Researchers are studying the best ways to lessen climate change and reduce its impact on our health.

NIH: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences


Climate Change
Poisoning, Toxicology, Environmental Health
Climate is the average weather in a place over a period of time. Climate change is major change in temperature, rainfall, snow, or wind patterns lasting for ...
Electromagnetic Fields
National Library of Medicine
Cell Phones
EMF
EMFs

Electric and magnetic fields (EMFs), also called radiation, are areas of energy that surround electrical devices. Everyday sources of EMFs include

  • Power lines
  • Electrical wiring
  • Microwave ovens
  • Computers
  • Cell phones

Some people worry about EMF exposure and cancer. Some studies have found a link between EMF exposure and a higher risk of childhood leukemia, but other studies have not. Other studies have not found proof that EMF exposure causes other childhood cancers. Studies in adults did not prove that EMF exposure causes cancer.

Some people worry that cell (wireless) phones cause cancer or other health problems. The phones do give off radiofrequency energy (RF), a form of electromagnetic radiation. So far, scientific evidence has not found a link between cell phone use and health problems in humans. However, scientists need to do more research on this before they can say for sure. If you are worried about avoiding any possible risks, you can limit your exposure by

  • Reducing the amount of time you spend using your cell phone
  • Use speaker mode or a headset to place more distance between your head and the cell phone

NIH: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences


Electromagnetic Fields
Poisoning, Toxicology, Environmental Health
Electric and magnetic fields (EMFs), also called radiation, are areas of energy that surround electrical devices. Everyday sources of EMFs include Power lines ...
Pesticides
National Library of Medicine
Fungicides
Herbicides
Insecticides
Rodenticides

Pests live where they are not wanted or cause harm to crops, people, or animals. Pesticides can help get rid of them. Pesticides are not just insect killers. They also include chemicals to control weeds, rodents, mildew, germs, and more. Many household products contain pesticides.

Pesticides can protect your health by killing germs, animals, or plants that could hurt you. However, they can also be harmful to people or pets. You might want to try non-chemical methods first. If you do need a pesticide, use it correctly. Be especially careful around children and pets. Proper disposal of pesticides is also important - it can help protect the environment.

Biologically-based pesticides are becoming more popular. They often are safer than traditional pesticides.

Environmental Protection Agency


Pesticides
Poisoning, Toxicology, Environmental Health
Pests live where they are not wanted or cause harm to crops, people, or animals. Pesticides can help get rid of them. Pesticides are not just insect killers. ...
Foodborne Illness
National Library of Medicine
Food Poisoning
Yersinia Enterocolitica

Each year, around 48 million people in the United States get sick from contaminated food. Common causes include bacteria and viruses. Less often, the cause may be a parasite or a harmful chemical, such as a high amount of pesticides. Symptoms of foodborne illness depend on the cause. They can be mild or serious. They usually include

  • Upset stomach
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Dehydration

Most foodborne illnesses are acute. This means that they happen suddenly and last a short time.

It takes several steps to get food from the farm or fishery to your dining table. Contamination can happen during any of these steps. For example, it can happen to

  • Raw meat during slaughter
  • Fruits and vegetables when they are growing or when they are processed
  • Refrigerated foods when they are left on a loading dock in warm weather

But it can also happen in your kitchen if you leave food out for more than 2 hours at room temperature. Handling food safely can help prevent foodborne illnesses.

Most people with foodborne illness get better on their own. It is important to replace lost fluids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration. If your health care provider can diagnose the specific cause, you may get medicines such as antibiotics to treat it. For more serious illness, you may need treatment at a hospital.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases


Foodborne Diseases
Food Contamination
Digestive System
Food and Nutrition
Poisoning, Toxicology, Environmental Health
Each year, around 48 million people in the United States get sick from contaminated food. Common causes include bacteria and viruses. Less often, the cause ...
Poisoning
National Library of Medicine

A poison is any substance that is harmful to your body. You might swallow it, inhale it, inject it, or absorb it through your skin. Any substance can be poisonous if too much is taken. Poisons can include

  • Prescription or over-the-counter medicines taken in doses that are too high
  • Overdoses of illegal drugs
  • Carbon monoxide from gas appliances
  • Household products, such as laundry powder or furniture polish
  • Pesticides
  • Indoor or outdoor plants
  • Metals such as lead and mercury

The effects of poisoning range from short-term illness to brain damage, coma, and death. To prevent poisoning it is important to use and store products exactly as their labels say. Keep dangerous products where children can't get to them. Treatment for poisoning depends on the type of poison. If you suspect someone has been poisoned, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 right away.


Poisoning
Poisoning, Toxicology, Environmental Health
Safety Issues
A poison is any substance that is harmful to your body. You might swallow it, inhale it, inject it, or absorb it through your skin. Any substance can be ...
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
National Library of Medicine
CO Poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas that has no odor or color. But it is very dangerous. It can cause sudden illness and death. CO is found in combustion fumes, such as those made by cars and trucks, lanterns, stoves, gas ranges and heating systems. CO from these fumes can build up in places that don't have a good flow of fresh air. You can be poisoned by breathing them in. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion

It is often hard to tell if someone has CO poisoning, because the symptoms may be like those of other illnesses. People who are sleeping or intoxicated can die from CO poisoning before they have symptoms. A CO detector can warn you if you have high levels of CO in your home.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Poisoning, Toxicology, Environmental Health
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas that has no odor or color. But it is very dangerous. It can cause sudden illness and death. CO is found in combustion fumes, such ...
Household Products
National Library of Medicine
Cleaning Products
Poisons in the Home

The products you use for cleaning, carpentry, auto repair, gardening, and many other household uses can contain ingredients that can harm you, your family, and the environment. These include

  • Oven and drain cleaners
  • Laundry powder
  • Floor polish
  • Paint thinners, strippers and removers
  • Pesticides
  • Grease and rust removers
  • Motor oil and fuel additives
  • Arts and craft supplies

Toxic substances in these products can cause harm if inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through the skin. People respond to toxic substances in different ways. At high doses a toxic substance might cause birth defects or other serious problems, including brain damage or death.

To avoid problems, keep products in the containers they come in and use them exactly as the label says. Follow label directions or get medical help if you swallow, inhale or get them on your skin.

Environmental Protection Agency


Household Products
Poisoning, Toxicology, Environmental Health
Safety Issues
The products you use for cleaning, carpentry, auto repair, gardening, and many other household uses can contain ingredients that can harm you, your family, ...
Air Pollution
National Library of Medicine
Pollution

Air pollution is a mixture of solid particles and gases in the air. Car emissions, chemicals from factories, dust, pollen and mold spores may be suspended as particles. Ozone, a gas, is a major part of air pollution in cities. When ozone forms air pollution, it's also called smog.

Some air pollutants are poisonous. Inhaling them can increase the chance you'll have health problems. People with heart or lung disease, older adults and children are at greater risk from air pollution. Air pollution isn't just outside - the air inside buildings can also be polluted and affect your health.

Environmental Protection Agency


Air Pollution
Poisoning, Toxicology, Environmental Health
Air pollution is a mixture of solid particles and gases in the air. Car emissions, chemicals from factories, dust, pollen and mold spores may be suspended ...
Lead Poisoning
National Library of Medicine
Plumbism

Lead is a metal that occurs naturally in the earth's crust. Lead can be found in all parts of our environment. Much of it comes from human activities such as mining and manufacturing. Lead used to be in paint; older houses may still have lead paint. You could be exposed to lead by

  • Eating food or drinking water that contains lead. Water pipes in older homes may contain lead.
  • Working in a job where lead is used
  • Using lead in a hobby, such as making stained glass or lead-glazed pottery
  • Using folk remedies such as herbs or foods that contain lead

Breathing air, drinking water, eating food, or swallowing or touching dirt that contains lead can cause many health problems. Lead can affect almost every organ and system in your body. In adults, lead can increase blood pressure and cause infertility, nerve disorders, and muscle and joint pain. It can also make you irritable and affect your ability to concentrate and remember.

Lead is especially dangerous for children. A child who swallows large amounts of lead may develop anemia, severe stomachache, muscle weakness, and brain damage. Even at low levels, lead can affect a child's mental and physical growth.

Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry


Lead Poisoning
Children and Teenagers
Poisoning, Toxicology, Environmental Health
Lead is a metal that occurs naturally in the earth's crust. Lead can be found in all parts of our environment. Much of it comes from human activities such ...