Environmental Toxins Control

The Environmental Toxin Control Program was created in November 2006 to equip PCS with knowledge of the adverse effects various chemicals may have on environmental and human health. In accomplishing this goal, assessment of health effects of exposure to hazardous substances or conditions in air, land and soil are explored. Environmental advisories to individuals or communities potentially impacted by an exposure educate citizens so they may take proper action to protect themselves.


Can ozone affect my health?

Ozone can irritate the respiratory system at levels often found in many cities during the summer months. It not only affects people with existing breathing problems, but also can affect healthy children and adults. Persons especially sensitive to ozone exposure are the elderly, infants, children, asthmatics, chronic respiratory patients, pregnant women, smokers, persons with a history of chest discomfort or respiratory allergies, and persons with lung cancer, cardiovascular disease or immune system deficiency.

At low levels, persons sensitive to ozone may experience irritation of the eyes, nose, sinuses, throat and lungs resulting in watery eyes, runny nose and coughing. At higher levels, ozone can cause chest tightness, shortness of breath, pain when breathing deeply and wheezing. Other less common symptoms are blurred vision, headache, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. Ozone also appears to make the lungs more susceptible to bacterial infections. For additional information, visit our Air Quality page.

What is a toxin?
A toxin is any substance chemically derived or naturally occurring in such concentration that results in an adverse health effect. These effects may be acute (short term) or chronic (long term) and are based on the individual’s sensitivity to the compound emitted.
Are children more susceptible to toxins than adults?
Since children eat more food, drink more water, and breathe more per pound than adults they intake more toxins into their bodies. Children's bodies are growing and developing more rapidly so chemicals that can harm development can do maximum damage at this critical time. Children are exposed to toxins as early as conception and therefore the in utero development may be affected by toxins that enter the mother's body by inhalation or ingestion as well as dermal contact. Parents of infants and toddlers are challenged by the child constantly putting their hands (and other objects) into their mouths. This creates a concern of ingesting pesticides and heavy metals, as well as allergens and dust particulates. The small stature of children also exposes them to volatiles that are low lying or emitted from carpet or other flooring, as well as those encapsulated in dust.
What is indoor air pollution?
Indoor air pollution refers to the quality of air confined in the home or office environment. Indoor air quality may be compromised by the use of various commonly used chemicals, mold/ mildew and the general inability of the building to “breathe”.
What are some toxins I should be concerned with?
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  • Pesticides
  • Diesel Particulate
  • Dioxin
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
    • Styrene
    • Tricholorethylene
    • 1,3 butadiene
    • methy-tert-butyl ether (MTBE)
    • Benzene
  • Heavy Metals
  • Chloroform
  • Chlorine
  • Phthalates
  • Asbestos
  • Mold/ Fungal toxins
How are toxins produced?
Toxins may be produced in the manufacture of paints, pharmaceuticals, and refrigerants. Other sources include petroleum fuels, hydraulic fluids, dry cleaning agents, and industrial solvents.