Toxic chemicals that affect our health and environment are present in our daily lives. Here are some of the most pressing chemicals of concern today. The good news is that we can take steps to protect ourselves and the environment from these chemicals.

Perfluorinated Chemicals: Teflon and Stain Protectors

What do fast food wrappers, carpet stain protectors, and popular raincoats have in common? They are made with a class of chemicals known as PFCs (perfluorinated compounds), PFASs (perfluoroalkyl substances), or simply Teflon chemicals. These compounds are designed to repel both oil and water, but with this special chemistry comes a special problem: scientists call them “virtually indestructible.” Learn more 

Toxic Flame Retardants

TCPP: A toxic flame retardant

TCPP (tris (1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate) is a flame retardant commonly used in polyurethane foam in consumer products and in home insulation, and in electronics. It is used as an additive to polyurethane foam and is not chemically bound, and it escapes from products into the indoor environment. Learn more 

TBB: A toxic flame retardant

TBB (tetrabromobenzoate) is a flame retardant used in polyurethane foam for furniture and children’s products, as the major component in the product known as Firemaster 550, as well as in electronics. TBB is mixed into rather than chemically bound to the foam, and can escape into the indoor and outdoor environment. Learn more 

TBPH: A toxic flame retardant

TBPH (bis(2-ethylhexyl) tetrabromophthalate) is a flame retardant used in polyurethane foam for furniture and children’s products, as a component in the product known as Firemaster 550, and in wire and cable and other plastics. TBPH is mixed into rather than chemically bound to the foam and plastic, and can escape into the indoor and outdoor environment. Learn more 

TPP: A toxic flame retardant

Triphenyl phospate (TPP or TPHP) is a flame retardant used in polyurethane foam for furniture and children’s products, as a component in the product known as Firemaster 550, and in electronics casings and other plastics. It is also used as a plasticizer and is used in other types of products, including nail polish. Learn more 

V6: A toxic flame retardant

V6, or 2,2-bis(chloromethyl)-propane-1,3-diyltetrakis(2-chloroethyl) bisphosphate, is a flame retardant commonly used in polyurethane foam in consumer products and automobile foam. Learn more 

PBDEs (Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers)

PBDEs, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers, are industrial toxic chemicals, used for more than 30 years, to retard flame in consumer electronic plastics, furniture, and mattresses.

There are three common mixtures of these chemicals—penta, octa, and deca. Learn more 

TCEP: A toxic flame retardant

TCEP is flame retardant added to polyurethane foam and is found in furniture and baby products, as well as some plastics and carpet backing.  In a 2002 study examining stream contaminants near industrial facilities, TCEP was one of the most common. Learn more 

TDCPP (Chlorinated Tris)

TDCPP was a flame retardant used in children’s pajamas in the 1970s until it was eliminated from that use due to adverse health effects.  Now, TDCPP is a widely used flame retardant added to polyurethane foam in furniture and baby products. Learn more 

Phthalates

Phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates) are plasticizers and fragrance carriers used in a wide array of consumer products, especially those containing PVC (polyvinyl chloride). Learn more 

Pesticides

Pesticides are chemicals used to kill pests, such as insects or weeds. Many different kinds of synthetic (human-made) pesticides are used in agriculture or in home-use products. Learn more 

PCBs and DDT

PCBs – polychlorinated biphenyls – are synthetic (human-made) chemicals first produced in the late 1920s. They were used as cooling fluids in electrical equipment and machinery because of their durability and resistance to fire.

DDT – dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane – was developed as an insecticide in the 1940s, and was widely used during World War II to combat insect-borne diseases. Learn more 

Heavy Metals: Mercury and Arsenic

Mercury, arsenic, and lead are found naturally in the earth, but just because they’re natural chemical elements doesn’t mean they’re harmless. They are heavy metals with a long history of industrial and personal use—and just as long of a history of harming human health. Learn more 

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a colorless gas at room temperature. It is widely used in many consumer products, including building materials, pressed wood, cosmetics, shoe-care products, and textiles. It is also used as a disinfectant and as a preservative, including in mortuaries and medical labs. Learn more 

Bisphenol A (BPA)

Bisphenol A is a building-block chemical used to make polycarbonate plastic as well as epoxy resins used as can linings. It is also found in some dental materials. Learn more 

Antimony

Antimony is a naturally occurring metal often used in combination with lead and zinc, found in metal alloys, paints, ceramics, and fireworks. It is also used as a catalyst to produce polyester, and is found in plastics used for disposable beverage bottles. The most widely used antimony compound is antimony trioxide, used as a component in flame retardant applications. Learn more 

Lead

Lead is found naturally in the earth, but just because it’s natural chemical elements doesn’t mean it’s harmless. It is a heavy metal with a long history of industrial and personal use—and just as long of a history of harming human health. It has actually been recorded to be harmful as early as 2,000 BC! Learn more 

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