Did you know that there is a growing belief that climate change has an impact on air and water quality and consequently our health and well being? Chemical contaminants released into the air can have the same effect as those released on the ground or in the water: they can persist in the environment and accumulate in the tissues of plants and animals, moving through the food chain and affecting growth and reproduction in living creatures of all sizes.
- Biological agents, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, other microorganisms and their associated toxins, have the ability to adversely affect human health in a variety of ways, ranging from relatively mild, allergic reactions to serious medical conditions, even death. Here you'll find fact sheets and technical and regulatory information about some of the most virulent and prevalent biological agents.
- Chemical agents are chemical compounds that have harmful effects on human health. There are a number of different types of chemical agents, and a range of uses for these compounds, from crowd control to chemical warfare. Here is a list of chemical agents by category from the Center for Disease Control, along with definitions, clinical description, lab criteria for diagnosis, and case classification.
- Learn how to prepare, prevent, and protect yourself and others from dangerous materials and environmental emergencies, such as an accident scene where hazardous materials may have been spilled.
Questions about how to handle certain toxic and hazardous materials? The Department of Environmental Protection provides regulations, policies, permits, and online reporting tools, as well as the Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) to help you manage hazardous substances. The agency also provides information on handling hazardous household products.
- Lead is a toxic metal that was used for many years in paint and other products found in and around our homes. Lead also can be emitted into the air from industrial sources and leaded aviation gasoline, and lead can enter drinking water from plumbing materials. Lead may cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Children six years old and under are most at risk.
- When a product containing mercury breaks and the mercury is spilled (as sometimes happens when its not disposed of properly), the exposed mercury can evaporate and become an invisible, odorless toxic vapor that can even adversely affect our fish supply. Check out these products and learn more about how to safely use and store them, and properly manage their disposal.
- Some radioactive materials that are not used properly can pose unacceptable risks to people and the environment. Potassium iodide (also called KI) is a salt of stable (not radioactive) iodine. Stable iodine is an important chemical needed by the body to make thyroid hormones; however, taking KI may be harmful for some people because of the high levels of iodine in this medicine. Learn more about the possible risks and side effects of both here.
- Natural hazards such as flood, fire, earthquake, tornado, and windstorms affect hundreds of people in Massachusetts every year. We need to know what our risks are from natural hazards and take sensible precautions to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities.
Stay a step ahead of the weather in your area with online watches, warnings, and advisories from the National Weather Service office.