Pesticides, lead, contaminated water, mercury, carbon monoxide, tobacco smoke and asbestos are types of environmental hazards that pose health risks. Many people are exposed to environmental hazards at industrial work sites or when using chemicals and appliances in private homes.
Toxic substances typically cause health complications through accidental consumption or inhalation. For example, breathing in a harmful amount of carbon monoxide gas from a home appliance can disrupt brain function and lead to death.
Exposure also occurs when building materials in older homes and buildings begin to break down, releasing noxious waste products. Prior to the 1980s, lead was widely used to make pipes, leading to blood poisoning from contaminated water, toys and food. Similarly, asbestos fibers in old insulation may become fragmented and dispersed in the air, impairing lung function when inhaled.