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10 Hazardous Chemicals in Consumer Products

Today, it’s hardly possible to live without being exposed to harmful chemicals in household goods, food, water, and the air. Once you know the common toxins in everyday products, you can protect your health by choosing safer products and limiting your contact with dangerous substances.

The following list of toxic chemicals in everyday products will help you lower your exposure to hazardous ingredients. If you believe toxic exposure has already harmed your health, laws that protect consumers and workers may allow you to claim damages.

Toxic Substances in Daily-Use Items

Everyday items with harmful ingredients include cleaning solutions, perfumes and air fresheners, fabrics, plastics, and even store receipts. As you go about your day, you might run into some or all of the toxic compounds listed below.

Bisphenol A (BPA)

Bisphenols are common chemicals in plastics and epoxy resins. You can find them in food and beverage packaging, toys, water bottles, automotive parts, and even medical equipment.

Studies have shown BPA, a common bisphenol, may be an endocrine disruptor that can harm your body’s hormonal regulation. Many manufacturers today mark their products as BPA-free, but plastics still contain other bisphenols.

Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA)

Perfluorooctanoic acid is a common byproduct of making fluoropolymer coatings. You’ll find it in many oil-, grease-, stain-, and water-resistant products like Teflon cookware and stain-repelling carpets.

Although the effects of PFOA on human health are inconclusive, large amounts of PFOA harm growth, development, liver function, and reproduction in animals. PFOA accumulates in the kidneys and liver and can stay in the body for a long time.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Volatile organic compounds are present in refrigerants, paints, and many pharmaceutical products. Excessive exposure to VOCs may cause eye and respiratory system irritation, headaches, nausea, and central nervous system damage.


different cosmetic bottles on wooden background

Phthalates are high on every list of toxic chemicals in everyday products. These widely used chemicals act as solvents, binding agents, or pliability-inducing components in plastics. Phthalate-containing products range from vinyl flooring to raincoats and shampoo.

Like other toxic chemicals, phthalates can potentially cause health issues like hormonal disruptions and damage to the liver and kidneys.


Asbestos is common in building materials, automotive parts, packaging, and fabrics. Although the public is now more aware of the dangers of asbestos, it isn’t banned in the United States, and you can still find it in various products, including baby powder. Inhaling asbestos fibers can cause asbestosis and some types of cancer, like mesothelioma.

Heavy Metals in Everyday Products

In addition to common toxins in everyday products, you also need to beware of heavy metals like lead, mercury, and cadmium.


Although lead paints have been banned in the U.S. since 1978, you can still find them in many old homes. Some imported toys, candies, and other products may also contain lead. Lead is especially dangerous to children, who may suffer impaired growth and nervous system damage when exposed to this heavy metal.


Despite the Mercury Export Ban Act of 2008, this toxic metal is still present in many ovens, furnaces, and other gas-powered appliances. Various antiques, older car models, electronics, and jewelry may also contain mercury. Prolonged mercury exposure may cause eye and skin irritation, breathing difficulties, headaches, and weight loss.


You may find cadmium in many plastic products, batteries, and metal coatings. Cigarette smoke is another common source of cadmium in our everyday surroundings. Cadmium can cause lung damage and accumulate in the kidneys. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has also classified cadmium as a carcinogen.

What Health Risks Are Associated With Exposure to Toxic Chemicals?

female teacher experiencing nose irritation

The possible health risks of toxin exposure depend on the specific chemical and the area of the body it reaches. Some immediate effects may be:

  • Eye and skin irritation
  • Nose, throat, and lung irritation
  • Allergic reactions
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Respiratory issues and asthma

What Are the Potential Long-Term Health Effects?

Years or decades may pass before the devastating effect of toxins reaches its tipping point. For example, construction laborers who worked with asbestos in the past may develop mesothelioma or another type of cancer many years after their last exposure. The same is true for firefighters exposed to hazardous chemicals. These types of delayed toxin damage are often irreversible.

Apart from cancer, long-term exposure to toxins may also cause:

  • Organ damage
  • Harm to the immune system
  • Reproductive difficulties
  • Birth defects
  • Impaired physical, intellectual, and mental development in children

How Can Consumers Identify Toxic Chemicals by Reading Labels?

To protect yourself against toxic chemicals, learn to spot toxic ingredients when you read labels. Although a label may not list every component, it’s a good place to start if you want to avoid chemical-heavy products.

Watch out for:

  • Known harmful and carcinogenic compounds, like BPA or cadmium
  • Catch-all terms like “fragrance” or “inactive ingredients”
  • Warnings like “corrosive” or “combustible”
  • Responsible use instructions, like avoiding exposure to heat

What Steps Can You Take to Reduce Exposure to Toxic Chemicals?

woman using air purifier at home

With a few simple practices, you can reduce your exposure to the many hazardous ingredients in household items:

  • Ventilate your home and office by opening windows and doors, especially when you use household chemicals. A fan could help you blow out the air more quickly. Consider using a HEPA air filter.
  • Wear protective gloves when you handle chemicals. Use a mask when you’re near substances that can damage your lungs when inhaled, like fiberglass.
  • Carefully follow all instructions on product labels, like proper storage conditions.
  • Keep chemicals away from children and pets in tightly sealed containers. Never store household chemicals in unlabeled boxes or soda bottles.
  • Remove toxin-soiled clothes or bedding as soon as you can and wash them separately. Run a rinse cycle on your washer before using it for non-contaminated clothes.

Are There Safer Alternatives to Products With Toxic Chemicals?

While you probably won’t be able to avoid chemicals completely, you can buy safer products or use non-toxic DIY alternatives. For example, you can clean with vinegar, salt, and baking soda instead of corrosive ammonia-based products or choose latex-based paints over oil-based paints. When shopping for pesticides, try to pick the least toxic option.

Are There Regulations Regarding Toxic Chemicals in Products?

Several regulations under The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the newer Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act shield consumers from chemical dangers in everyday products. In parallel, OSHA regulations protect workers from exposure to chemicals.

Nevertheless, if you believe that contact with toxins has damaged your health, proving the connection between exposure and your symptoms can be tricky. Manufacturers, corporate entities, landlords, and contractors usually deny responsibility. That’s why, if you plan to advocate for your rights through the legal system, you’ll need a skilled lawyer with a track record of representing toxic exposure cases.

Did You Suffer Harm From Toxic Exposure? Call Sadaka Law

The above list of toxic chemicals in everyday products only covers a handful of the many harmful substances that could wreak havoc on your body.

If you believe your health suffered because of exposure to toxins, call Sadaka Law. An experienced toxic exposure attorney will look into your case, let you know whether you have grounds for a claim, and help you fight for justice.

Call (800) 810-3457 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.



Principal & Founder
This article was written by Mark Sadaka, a seasoned trial lawyer in nationally significant cases. He fearlessly champions clients impacted by fatal or severe injuries caused by others or corporations. Renowned for his expertise in complex litigation, he's featured in books, sought after by media for interviews, and a highly sought speaker. Notably, he exclusively represents individuals facing life-changing injuries or substantial financial losses.

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