Pollutants and Toxicants

  • A basic understanding of pollutants and toxicants requires some information about the prevalence and availability of chemical elements and compounds from natural and man-made sources. Pollutants are chemicals or matter that contaminate various environmental media such as air, soil, water, plants and animals, and have the potential to cause harm to human health or the environment. Pesticides such as DDT (an insecticide that was banned in the US in 1972) are one type of pollutant. Pollutants also include waste materials that are unused or emitted as by-products of useful processes (e.g. dioxin). Toxicants are pollutants with the potential to act as poisons dependent upon several variables of exposure including magnitude (concentration or dose), route (inhalation, oral or dermal) and duration (acute or chronic). Use the links below to take a closer look at a few of the major pollutants and toxicants of concern in the State of Michigan.