Contaminants are toxic substances that pose a threat environment and to living beings. Contamination from chemicals released by the environment has always been a concern for us. But why are we talking about it now? Well, due to the rise in artificial environmental traumas with the increasing pollution, checking these concerns is pivotal. 

Recently, ecological contaminants affecting our food consumption have also been a threatening concern for all of us. 

The environment contaminants present in our food include groups, from metals, metalloids, aromatic hydrocarbons, POPs, PFCs, pharmaceutical to nanoparticles.

It has given rise to a significant health concern globally. Some of these occur; naturally, some contaminants are affecting our health due to human-made activities that have traumatized nature completely.

This article encompasses how environment contaminants are affecting our lives and what we can do to stop this.


Let us know a little more about what these contaminants are.

Environmental contaminants are contaminants that occur naturally without any anthropogenic sources.

Mostly, these contaminants affect our livestock, crops, drinking water, and seafood, causing adverse consequences to our health. These are generally complex multi-compound substances that often occur naturally. They contain polychlorinated biphenyls.

Contaminants do not usually break easily and might invade our food chain. It causes physiological cell reactions, which ultimately result in adverse effects on our health.


Common environmental contaminants include agricultural pesticides, which may lead to contamination. There are although different sources from where these contaminants might invade our food chain if we are not careful enough.

Majorly, these contaminants are available in our food, including metals such as perchlorate, carbon-based products, and “persistent organic pollutants.” They are famous today for their efficiency for their longevity. Generally, these environmental contaminants do not readily break down. 

Other than this, we can also find various persistent organic pollutants.

 So, think before you eat!


industry plays a big role in the increase of environment contaminants

  • Lead

Lead is one of the naturally occurring metals found everywhere. From rocks and soil to your water, it is present everywhere. Point is also current in trace amounts in the air. It has a history of global industrial use which dates back long ago.

Lead As A Contaminant In Our Food

Lead is one of the environmental pollutants present in our diet. Apart from this, there has been a decrease in the presence of lead in air, water, and food. Still, they are the primary sources of lead exposure in adults and children.

The dust particles and the soil in your household is also another source of lead exposure in toddlers. 

How Lead Prohibits The Consumption

The prohibition on the application of lead in food manufacturing in several countries is due to its omnipresence. In a few regions, it is a legitimate prohibition. But, there are other ways through which lead can enter your body. Plants absorb lead from the soil and air, which deposits on its surfaces. Also, fishes absorb lead from their surrounding water. Other animals absorb lead from the foods they consume.

Wait, There’s More!

Other ways include the exposure of lead into the body via the utensils containing lead. They are the top environmental contaminants as their exposure is very quick and very common. Preying and consuming the meat shot using lead bullets is another way to introduce lead into your body. Also, drinking water containing lead is another way of exposure to lead.

How Does Lead Affect You?

Lead does not contribute to our metabolic activities and has no function whatsoever. Instead, we are sensitive towards it and are more prone to lead poisoning. Toddlers are more prone to the toxic consequences of lead as they subsequently reduce the Intelligence Quotient factor (IQ factor). As for adults, even the lowest amount of lead exposure might lead to an increase in blood pressure.

  • Arsenic

Arsenic is a naturally occurring environment contaminant present in the environment and the living systems of the situation. It usually exists in synthetic form distinguished as organic and inorganic arsenic. Weathering and soil erosion, minerals, and ores might result in the invasion of arsenic in groundwater. 

How The Commercial Use Of Arsenic Is Affecting Us

Arsenic also has a retail value. It is of high demand for industrial purposes. Apart from this, industrial usage is also a causative factor of arsenic exposure directly from effluents and by atmospheric deposition. 

Arsenic As A Contaminant In Our Food

It is also one of the prevailing environment contaminants found in the environment. Found in trace amounts (low parts per billion (ppb)) in many edibles like meat, poultry, milk. Also, we can surprisingly find it in vegetables and fruit juices. We can also find both forms of organic and inorganic of arsenic in foods. However, the amount and the structure depends on the type of food we consume.

We can find its natural form in shellfish and fish as arsenobetaine, an organic arsenic compound. In contrast to this, this environmental contaminant is not present in higher concentrations. But, found in certain types of seaweeds and rice.

How Does Arsenic Affect Us?

Similar to lead, arsenic is also known to be a toxic environmental contaminant. Although its toxicity lies in its organic form. It is also one of the top environmental contaminants as it holds a significant health concern in adults and toddlers. Prolonged exposure to inorganic arsenic may lead to adverse consequences that include cancer. Inorganic arsenic also affects the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, livers, lungs, and epidermis.

Other than this, even short exposures to inorganic arsenic can lead to specific effects in our bodies. Exposure to inorganic arsenic for even days or weeks can result in consequences like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and numbness.

  • Brominated Flame Retardants

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers are common environmental contaminants. We use it commercially on a large scale as flame retardants. They don’t break down easily in the air. The primary sources of polybrominated diphenyl ethers are indoor air, indoor dust, food. Also, they are present in the milk of pregnant women.

How Do Brominated Flame Retardants Affect Us?

We do not know much of its toxicity. However, research is still going, encompassing its function and effect in our bodies.

  • Chlorinated Naphthalenes

Naphthalenes are organic compounds. Specifically, it is a polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbon with a structure that shows two benzene rings fused. Naphthalene is a commercial lubricant and wood preserving compound.

How Are Chlorinated Naphthalenes Affecting Us?

Chlorinated naphthalenes are environmental contaminants that have inevitable consequences on our bodies if exposed for a particular time. Chlorinated naphthalene as a contaminant in our food

We are not carrying any more information about its impacts on exposure. Most of the information and researches prove that this is an environmental contaminant with some side effects. It causes hypovitaminosis A that happens due to the interference with the carotene to vitamin A. 


Alongside environmental pollutants are also the causative agents for some of the diseases in animals, especially cows. Conditions include hyperkeratosis of skin, anorexia, and in worst cases, even death due to the over-exposure of these long periods.

  • Dioxins and Furans

Dioxins and furans are common environmental contaminants. Apart from this, this group of chemicals is an end-product of combustion. Combustion processes that produce these chemicals include burning and combustion of fuels. Since they are present in our environment, they manage to get into our food chain. These are environmental contaminants and have different behavior than “furan.”

How Do Dioxins And Furans Affect Us?

The primary exposure of dioxins and furans in humans is mainly through food. However, we do not know much of its effects are known. They are under constant research to understand these chemicals better. Although, we do not consume high levels of these environmental contaminants to perceive any such effects. Dioxins and furans used in agricultural pesticides. 

  • Furans

Furans are top environmental contaminants that are organic, volatile compounds. Used commercially in chemical manufacturing industries, these environmental contaminants in our food are present at low levels. They are mostly present in a can or jarred food that undergoes thermal treatment. 

Wait! Here’s Something You Should Know!

Other forms, such as methyl-substituted furan derivatives, 2-methyl furan, and 3-methyl furan, are also present in foods. We consume these forms through sources like compounds that undergo thermal degradation or chemical rearrangement during food processing.

How Do Furans Affect Us?

Similar to dioxins and furans, these environmental contaminants are still under research. Few studies show that these environmental contaminants in our food have some adverse consequences if exposed for an extended period. 

Oral exposure to furan can cause liver carcinogenicity and liver toxicity. We obtain most of the information about its toxicity from the experiments done on animals. Furan shows the signs of liver toxicity even in lower levels of consumption. However, they do not aggressively change genetic makeup, which would increase the chances of cancer. The other forms of furan also show the same adverse effects. Still, research is going on, and control measures keep the toxic consumption under check.

  • Mercury

Mercury is one of the most commonly occurring metals present in soil, rocks, and waterbodies. It is one of the most common environmental contaminants. The exposure of mercury in the environment also happens due to human-made causes. Human activities like combustion such as coal initiated power generation, metal mining, burning of waste, and so on. 

What Are The Sources?

Mercury is one of the top environmental contaminants. The primary source of mercury in our edibles is due to the vast consumption of fish. Mercury, as an environmental contaminant in our food, shows toxic symptoms and can also interfere with our mental health. Methylmercury, a virulent form of mercury. Owing to this, it is abundantly present in shellfish and other types of fish. 

How Do They Affect Us?

Overexposure to mercury can cause vision loss, confused sensations, lack of coordination, impairment of speech, head ringing and walking, and muscle weakness.

Other than these, these common environmental contaminants also have dire mental effects. It includes tremors, insomnia, sudden emotional changes, twitching, muscle atrophy, weakness, deterioration in performance and cognitive functions, disturbing sensations, and many more.

  • PCBs

Polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs are environmental contaminants even though they are initially toxic industrial contaminants. We use it commercially to manufacture electrical transformers, carbonless paper, lubricants, and so on. They are chemically stable, non-flammable having high boiling points with insulating properties.

How Do They Affect Us?

Polychlorinated biphenyls exposure in human beings occurs due to the consumption of fish. These environmental contaminants consumed by fishes which we consume later on. These environmental contaminants in our food are toxic and have adverse effects on our bodies. 


Studies show that women who consume fish during pregnancy birthed children with smaller head sizes and delayed muscle development. Also, women who consume a large concentration of PCB had adverse effects on the child’s weight and overall development. 

In adults who consumed fish containing extreme amounts of PCB experienced reduced Intelligent Quotient factor or IQ factor.

  • Perchlorates

These are environmental contaminants that are inorganic compounds that are present naturally in potash ore and nitrate deposits. They are also present in the air, soil, and water. We use it commercially in the form of perchlorate salts. They have high commercial value. Their commercial uses in industries include fuels, explosives, paint and enamel manufacturing industries, rubber manufacturing, pulp, and paper manufacturing. They are present in the environment ubiquitously. They are also a part of our food chain.

How Does It Affect Us?

These are environmental contaminants present in our food. Also, inorganic compounds have a toxic effect on our bodies. Excess perchlorate exposure can disrupt the child’s thyroid function in pregnant mothers. We also use it used in the treatment of thyroid. Since it inhibits thyroid activity, it can, over time, cause hypothyroidism. Other effects include skin problems, adverse effects on the pulmonary system, kidneys, cardiovascular system, liver, blood, and male reproductive systems.


  • Use unleaded gasoline for your vehicles. It reduces pollution and is sustainable. Apart from this, try to minimize smoke emission by walking and keeping your cars maintained.
  • Do not burn plastic. Not only is it harmful, but it also produces toxic environmental contaminants via combustion. Use biodegradable environment-friendly products.
  • Follow the 3Rs of solid waste-management: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. It can help in reducing environmental contamination in your household.
  • Plant more trees. They give out fresh oxygen, which also reduces the rate of environmental contaminants in the atmosphere.
  • Buy food carefully. Use local fresh produce. It is often organic and pesticide-free.

ways we can help reduce these environment contaminants


Environment contaminants are present everywhere. We cannot vanish them at once, but we can surely keep ourselves in check.

To avoid these environmental contaminants in our food, we must first maintain our hygiene. We should avoid the consumption of canned and jarred foods and aim to eat healthily.

Other than this, it is imperative to consult a doctor if you face any discomfort. Maintain a regular checkup. Try to eat organic, chemical-free foods and keep yourselves fit. Before you buy anything, do look for its composition and check if there is any contaminant present.


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