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Chemicals Affecting Human Health

Manmade chemicals are an integral and vital part of our modern lifestyle. They are found in a vast range of consumer products – from furniture, clothing and toiletries to electrical appliances, car interiors and cleaning products. While they have undoubtedly improved the quality of our lives, many would present you with serious health problems.

They can be harmful to health and many can persist in the environment and accumulate in the bodies of wildlife and people.

This has resulted in ecosystems and people all over the world being contaminated with a cocktail of manmade chemicals. Examples include the chemicals DDT (an insecticide) and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls – used in electrical components), which despite having been banned for decades, are still found throughout the global environment.

In more recent years, modern chemical compounds such as brominated flame retardants (used to prevent fire in plastics e.g. TVs, computers and textiles e.g. furniture, carpets) and perfluorinated “non-stick” chemicals, (used for waterproof and stainproof coatings) have followed PCBs and DDT to all corners of the globe.

Some chemicals can also interfere with hormone processes in the body – these are known as “endocrine disrupting” chemicals (EDCs). Examples include phthalates, primarily used to soften plastics and found in numerous consumer products, from vinyl flooring to cosmetics.