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Chemical Intoxication

Chemical pollution means the presence in our environment (e.g., air, water, soil) of chemicals (chemical pollutants) that are either not naturally present there or are found in amounts higher than their natural background values (amounts in which the chemicals are naturally present in a certain environment). Please note that some chemicals are exclusively derived from human activities, thus their presence in any amounts in the environment can be viewed as chemical pollution. These exclusively man-made chemicals are also called xenobiotics.

Chemical intoxication implies acute health problems (usually associated with digestive system) caused by exposure to high doses of chemical pollutants. Severe chemical intoxication or chemical poisoning may cause death. Such was the case in Japan in the 1970’s when many people (from a locality called Minamoto) consumed fish poisoned with mercury (specifically with an organic compound of mercury called methyl mercury). The fish became polluted with high amounts of mercury from the ocean. Basically, in time mercury was ingested by the fish and reached concentrations much higher than in the surrounding water. Chemical intoxication or chemical poisoning with severe health effects may trigger immediate effects (such as death) or delayed effects which may appear after weeks or even months since the exposure occurred. This is the case of some farmers in Iraq who used wheat treated with mercurial compounds to make their own bread after observing no effects in animals fed with that bread few days ago. However, the effects were cumulative and started appearing few months later.

What Chemical Compounds Are in Air Pollution?

Chemical pollutants could be any chemicals that end up in environment (both organic and inorganic chemicals). However the most commonly found chemical pollutants are those compounds applied or used over large areas and which do not easily degrade in nature (are persistent). Examples are most pesticides, herbicides, insecticides used in agriculture and gardening, as well as chlorinated solvents used in many industrial processes as degreasers as well as in dry cleaning activities. According to the variety of chemical pollutants, the sources of chemical pollution are human activities manufacturing, handling, storing and/or disposing of chemicals. Such activities include industry (e.g., chemical manufacturing, oil refineries), agriculture (e.g., agricultural use of pesticides, insecticides, etc.), coal power plants, construction, mining & smelting, transportation, as well as household activities (through consumption and disposal of various household chemicals). Basically, it is true that chemical water pollution can be caused by every day detergents (which are chemicals)!

In conclusion, chemical pollution problems can be caused by a large variety of chemicals from a large variety of sources and involve a variety of health effects from simple digestive problems, to chemical intoxication and death by poisoning. The causes are usually related to exposure to high amounts of chemicals by consumption of poisonous food (e.g., fish, crops), drinking highly contaminated water, or breathing highly contaminated air.

Chemical pollution control and chemical pollution prevention consist in actions at both government and personal levels. The governments may contribute to chemical pollution prevention through appropriate legislation, recycling programs, sustainable approaches to waste disposal and raw material exploitation. Any of us, at individual levels, may also contribute to chemical pollution prevention by first informing ourselves and acting (e.g., recycle as much as possible, do not dump chemicals on the ground in our backyard or anywhere else, never use excessive chemicals, detergents or any other household chemical, as well as buy those “green’ products that have less impact on the environment.).

If you believe you have been or are exposed to chemical pollution, or have been diagnosed with medical conditions that may be caused by food pollution, please contact us, as you may be eligible for compensation.

If you are the owner of a house or business with chemical pollution problems you may face liability issues and may be asked to characterize and remediate this situation. However, with appropriate legal advice, these may be avoided. Please contact an environmental specialist to evaluate your case and find legal appropriate advice.