Classification of Toxins -- The Ecological Home Improvement and Renovation Guide

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The following list is intended as a quick reference guide to toxins. In the main text there is a classification of toxins according to their source. Here the headings are mainly chemical, with a small number of source headings at the end. Besides the common names, the relevant technical names are also given for those readers who would like to know them. The listing will help you to understand the categories of chemicals under which toxins are most likely to occur.



Much of this information has been extracted from Buildings and Health— The Rosehaugh Guide (see REFERENCES), and those wishing to obtain more detailed information should consult this book. For a simpler treatment of the subject, The Green Home Handbook is more accessible. The categories below are, of course, not mutually exclusive.

METALS and THEIR COMPOUNDS

Aluminum, cadmium, chromium compounds (chromates particularly), lead, mercury; and metalloids—arsenic and antimony.

HALOGENS and THEIR COMPOUNDS

Chlorine, bromine, and fluorine, and compounds such as bromides and fluorides.

MINERALS

Natural mineral asbestos fibers: chrysotile (white asbestos), amosite (brown asbestos), crocidolite (blue asbestos), tremolite (fine white asbestos) and actinolite (green asbestos). Other natural minerals: crystalline silica dust, talcum, and quartz dust.

ACIDS, ALKALIS, OXIDIZING and REDUCING AGENTS

Alkalis such as ammonia and sodium hydroxide (caustic soda). Acids such as formic acid. Oxidizing agents such as ozone and hydrogen peroxide, and reducing agents such as carbon monoxide.

INORGANIC GASES

Nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide.

ORGANIC COMPOUNDS

Volatile organic solvents: acetone, amyl acetate, benzine, carbon tetrachloride, perchloroethylene, toluene diisocyanate, trichloroethane (methyl chloroform), trichloroethylene, and xylene. Aromatic hydrocarbons: benzine, toluene, xylene, ethylbenzine, trimethylbenzine, styrene, and napthalene. Chlorinated hydrocarbons: methylene chloride, 1,1,1 -trichiorethane, trichioroethylene, chloroform, tetrachloroethylene, chlorobenzine, and dichlorobenzine.

Certain families of organic compounds: aldehydes, phenols, benzenes, alkanes, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

PLASTICS and RUBBERS

Although most plastics in use can't be classed as toxins, in some situations allergic effects from contact and the out gassing of minute quantities of toxic vapors can have a cumulative effect. The following may cause problems: poly ester, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyurethane resin and foam (PU), urea-formaldehyde (UF), and plasticizers, for example, dioctyl phthalate. Also synthetic rubbers and nitrile rubbers.

LIVING ORGANISMS and THEIR PRODUCTS

Disease organisms such as viruses and bacteria, certain molds and fungal spores, some pollens, certain poisonous plants, dusts from particular species of timber, and terpenes extracted from pine, such as alpha-penene and limonene.

PESTICIDES

Insecticides: bendiocarb, borates, cypermetblin, dichlorvos, dieldrin, permethrin, synthetic pyretbroids, lindane, pentachlorophenol PCB, sodium dichromate, tributyltinoxide (TBTO), and chlordane. Fungicides: arsenic pentoxide, copper sulfate, creosote, and dichlorfluanid. Herbicides: diquat and atrazine.

RADIOACTIVE GASES

Radon and thoron.

TOXINS COMMONLY FOUND IN WATER

Aluminum, coliform bacteria, copper, fecal streptococci, lead, manganese, nitrates, organo-chlorine compounds, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, pesticides, sodium, and trihalomethanes.

TOXINS COMMONLY FOUND 1N INDOOR AIR

Carbon dioxide, formaldehyde, particulates, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, ammonia, acrolien, ozone, sulfur dioxide, toluene, and styrene.

PRODUCTS OF COMBUSTION

Benzopyrenes, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen cyanide, ammonia, acrolein, and isocyanates.

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