What is Chemical Contamination?

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Chemical can contaminate our home, our food, our work, and the environment in general, all of which can pose a danger to our health. This lesson shows you examples of various ways chemicals can contaminate these places.

What Is Chemical Contamination?

Chemical contamination refers to the addition or appearance of chemical substances in inappropriate places, including the workplace, home, food, and environment. It can also mean that the chemicals present are normally there or should be found there but they are present at a higher concentration than usual or at a concentration that is considered to be unhealthy.

These chemical substance may sometimes pose little danger but in other instances can lead to acute (sudden and severe) poisoning or, in chronic (long-term) cases, it can damage organs or even lead to cancer.

Let's go over some examples of chemical contaminants and where they may be found.

In Food and at Home

At home, chemical contaminants may arise from various sources, such as detergents, disinfectants, and even deodorants. The food that you eat or the water that you drink may also be subject to chemical contamination. For instance, if the pipes that carry your drinking water are made of or contain lead, arsenic, copper, zinc, and other chemical elements, this can pose all sorts of danger, including he risk of nervous system damage.

As for your food, it may contain chemical pesticides and herbicides that you then eat. But let's say that you are super-conscious about what you buy and where you source it from. Even if you buy organic food that doesn't use such chemicals, you are still not free and clear. Think about what you eat your food in or heat it up in. If you heat your food in plastic containers, those plastic containers may leak chemicals into your food! If you cook using non-stick cookware, you run the risk of having chemicals in that non-stick coating entering your favorite meal, too.

At Work and in Nature

Workplaces may contain plenty of chemical contaminants as well, it just depends on where you work. The workplace contaminants often end up affecting nature in general as well. For instance, if you work drilling for oil, then your work may entail the use of dangerous chemicals to extract the oil, which may contaminate your hands, the air around you, and the water that you may then end up drinking. If you work at a garbage incinerator, the heat generated by such a plant vaporizes many harmful substances, which then pollute the air around you and the air for miles around.

But nature can be contaminated by those of us who perform no such dangerous work. If you've ever flushed something like pharmaceuticals or other chemicals, such as drain cleaners, down the toilet, sink, or bathtub, then you must realize that all of this stuff ends up going into our water source. If the water is not properly treated, we just end up drinking these things later on!

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