Environmental Chemicals & Pollutants

Many chemicals and pollutants are naturally present in the environment, while other chemicals are created by humans for use in consumer, or everyday, products. Some chemicals may cause harmful health effects. There is continuous research being done to learn more about the health effects from harmful chemicals and how to reduce your exposure to them. Vermont has passed laws intended to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals and to inform the public about chemicals in consumer products.

The Health Department is a great resource for information about chemicals and health. Toxicology staff research the effects of chemical exposure and stay current on exposure and risk assessment. Here you will find information on natural and human-made chemicals and pollutants found in the air, water, and consumer products.

Contact Information

Toxicological Sciences Program
Phone: 802-863-7220 or
800-439-8550 (toll-free in Vermont)
Fax: 802-863-7483

AHS.VDHEnvHealth@Vermont.gov

In This Section

Formaldehyde is a colorless gas at room temperature. It sometimes has a noticeable smell.

Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, is the name given to substances that contain carbon and evaporate or “off-gases” at room temperature.

Arsenic is a natural element found in some rocks and soil in Vermont. People routinely take in very small amounts of arsenic from the air, from water, and from food.

Wild Parsnip is very common in many parts of Vermont. The plants grow wild along roadsides and other unmaintained areas and produce yellow flowers that look like Queen Anne’s Lace.

Benzene is the name of an aromatic hydrocarbon, C6H6. In liquid form, benzene is clear, colorless, and flammable.

Ozone is a colorless gas with a noticeable smell. Although ozone is naturally found in the atmosphere, it is also a main part of air pollution called smog.

“Particulate” is a general name given to a tiny solid or liquid particle or piece of matter. It usually refers to particles in the air (airborne particulates).

Mercury is a natural substance that can be found in the environment. At room temperature, metallic mercury is a shiny, silver-white liquid.

Most carpet is made with synthetic (human-made) materials. However, carpets can also be made of wool or other natural materials.