As liquid, gas or solid, industrial chemicals are manufactured, used, stored and transported in vast quantities every day throughout the world. Used in the mass production of ‘everything’ around us, exposures to these potentially toxic chemicals in end-products or as by-products may be hazardous.
Mitigating our daily exposures to industrial chemicals – from carpet off gas to herbicides in food or tap water and much more – relies on our defences: knowledge (learning, avoiding, choosing non-toxic products, filtration) awareness (political system, lobby efforts), our five senses, our natural abilities to detoxify and eliminate especially through the liver, kidneys, lungs, digestive system and skin.
News of the train derailment in Ohio on Feb. 3, 2023, has again highlighted concerns regarding industrial chemicals. In response, the EPA has issued regular reports from air, water and soil samplings for the area. On Feb. 23, they reported air measurements for certain chemicals and identified elevated levels for acrolein, benzene, vinyl chloride, o-xylene, naphthalene and more.
Acrolein is produced from the burning of organic matter (forest fires) and gas and oil (vehicles). According to the EPA, acrolein “is toxic to humans following inhalation, oral or dermal exposures. Acute (short-term) inhalation exposure may result in upper respiratory tract irritation and congestion.” No information is available on reproductive, developmental or carcinogenic effects on humans.
Vinyl chloride is a highly toxic, colorless gas that is shipped as a liquid under pressure. The chemical is used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is used in the manufacturing of car parts, credit cards, furniture and PVC piping. Vinyl chloride is highly flammable and when burned can break down into hydrogen chloride, phosgene, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide vapors, according to the American Industrial Hygiene Association Journal.
With the vast array of toxic chemicals around us, maintaining homeostasis requires an awareness of daily exposures and knowledge of how best to mitigate potential impacts.