Toxic Substances


Michigan Environmental Education Curriculum
Water Quality - Pollutant Sources and Impacts

Toxic Metals

  • Arsenic
  • Beryllium
  • Cadmium
  • Chromium
  • Lead
  • Mercury
Coal-Powered Plant

Persistent Organic Pollutants

  • PCBs/PBDEs
  • DDT
  • Aldrin/Dieldrin
  • Dioxins/Furans

Toxic substances can act as a poison, producing either immediate (acute) illness following short-term exposure to high concentrations or delayed (chronic) effects after long term exposure at lower levels. Many of these materials cause birth defects, gene mutation and/or cancer. Two classes are typically recognized: toxic metals and persistent organic pollutants. The word persistent, which could well be applied to both classes of toxic substances, is important because it means that the chemical hangs around long enough to enter the food chain and cause harmful effects.

Helicopter Spraying

Apples with Pesticide
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