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Chemical substances

Substances we take in through food and water or through the air we breathe may influence our health. While some substances are known to be harmful, e.g dioxins and PCBs, others can be beneficial under certain circumstances, e.g. fluoride preventing caries, water disinfectants killing germs. For yet others, further research is needed before definite conclusions can be drawn e.g. endocrine disruptors.

See also Phthalates and Air Pollution

Allergenic fragrances

Fragrance ingredients are used in consumer goods to give them a specific, usually pleasant smell. They can sometimes cause skin irritations or allergic reactions.

Is the list of fragrance substances that have to be identified on consumer products sufficient, or are there more that should be added to the list? More...

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Arsenic

Arsenic is a poisonous substance, which is released both from certain human activities and naturally from the earth's crust. Humans may be exposed to arsenic mainly through food and water. To what extent can arsenic exposure affect human health or the environment? More...

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Boron

Boron is a naturally occurring element used in products such as fibreglass, detergents, agricultural fertilizers and herbicides. Could it affect my health? Under what conditions could it be beneficial or harmful to the environment? More...

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Phthalates Comparison

The aim of this peer reviewed comparison is to put in perspective the potential dangers and risks of four phthalates used mainly as plasticizers in PVC applications and help the non specialist reader to make its opinion in these matters. More...

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DEHP

Diethylhexyl-phthalate (DEHP) is a widely used plastic additive.

Its widespread use in everyday and medical products has raised some concerns about its safety. Does it pose a risk to health or the environment? More...

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Dioxins

Dioxins are mainly released by human activities such as incineration and fuel combustion. Some dioxins and some "dioxin-like" PCBs are known to be harmful. In 2008, the facts summarised by GreenFacts are still considered a valid reference. More...

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Biocides

There is concern that this widespread use of biocides, such as disinfectants, preservatives and antiseptics, may lead to the emergence or proliferation of harmful bacteria that are resistant to both biocides and antibiotics.

In the light of current scientific evidence, can biocides lead to antibiotic resistant bacteria? More...

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Endocrine Disruptors

Some chemicals, both natural and man-made, can interfere with the hormonal system.

Have endocrine disruptors affected wild life and our hormonal system? How much is known so far? More...

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Chemical Mixtures

There is increasing concern in the general public about the potential toxic effects of chemical substance mixtures (in the media often referred to as “cocktail-effects”). More...

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Fluoride

Food and drinking water typically contain at least small amounts of fluorides. Fluorides are commonly added to dental products – and sometimes to tap water – to prevent cavities. Under what conditions can fluoride exposure be beneficial or detrimental to human health? More...

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Marine Litter

The global production of plastics is increasing, and that increase is accompanied by an increase in plastic waste.

Part of this waste makes its way into the marine environment in the form of micro-plastics. What do we know about the extent of this problem? More...

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Mercury

Mercury is a heavy metal which is known to be highly toxic. Though mercury occurs naturally in the environment it is now mainly released by human activities. Are humans and the environment at risk? More...

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Evaluation of endocrine disruptors

Some chemicals can interact with the endocrine system and cause health problems. These 'endocrine disruptors' are difficult to evaluate in terms of health risks.

Are current methods adequate? More...

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Methylene glycol

Is the use of methylene glycol in hair straightening products safe? More...

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PCBs

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were widely used in the past, mainly in electrical equipment. Because these compounds are generally very stable, they remain present in the environment today. What are the health risks associated with PCBs? More...

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Allergies

Fragrance ingredients are used in consumer goods to give them a specific, usually pleasant smell. They can sometimes cause skin irritations or allergic reactions.

Is the list of fragrance substances that have to be identified on consumer products sufficient, or are there more that should be added to the list? More...

Summary available in [de] [en] [es] [fr

DBP

DBP is mainly used in PVC and other plastics. Other applications besides inks, paints and adhesives, include nail polish, perfumes, sealants, and lubricants.
Main conclusions: At some industrial sites, exposure of workers and emissions to air should be reduced More...

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DINP-DIDP

DIDP and DINP are two very similar phthalates. They are mainly used in PVC and other plastics, but also in some inks, paints and adhesives.
Main conclusions: DIDP in toys may pose a risk; more research may be needed on the environmental effects of DIDP and DINP. More...

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Phthalates in school supplies

Some school supplies, such as erasers, contain phthalates – substances that are added to plastics to make them soft.

Can regularly chewing on such articles cause harmful health effects? More...

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Accidental poisoning

Some consumer products are packaged to imitate food or appeal to children. This is for instance the case of certain shower gels, liquid soaps and dish-washing liquids. It is likely that these could be swallowed if confused with food.

Who runs the greatest risk and what increases the likelihood of serious poisoning? More...

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Triclosan

Triclosan is added to many consumer goods such as cosmetics and detergents to kill microorganisms or inhibit their growth. It is a widely used disinfectant, and there is concern that this widespread use may lead to the emergence of bacteria that are resistant to both biocides and antibiotics.

Can triclosan lead to antibiotic resistant bacteria? More...

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Water Disinfectants

To protect drinking water against germs and fight disease transmitted through water, disinfectants such as chlorine, chloramines, ozone and chlorine dioxide are used.

Unwanted by-products can be formed, which raise health concerns. More...

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Zinc Oxide

Zinc oxide is a white powder which is widely used in a variety of applications, one of which being in cosmetic products as a UV filter. New technologies have recently allowed the use of nano- sized zinc oxide particles.

Are these different to conventional zinc oxide in terms of physical and chemical properties and toxicity? More...

Summary available in [de] [en] [es] [fr