3 Environmental Contaminants You Haven't Heard Of

dan-cristian-padure-8M3HWu2aHOM-unsplashEnvironmental contaminants come in all shapes and sizes. “Persistent” environmental contaminants include everything from lead to asbestos to carbon monoxide, but there’s a wide world of toxins out there most people don’t even know about.

Environmental contamination, particularly contamination borne from industrial processes, is a complex science. With compounds and materials evolving every day, environmental engineers must stay on the cutting-edge to predict and protect against the existing and emerging threats of environmental contamination. Shield Engineering’s environmental engineering team does just that.

Here are three environmental contaminants you may never have heard of – and are more common than you think.

Detergent Metabolites

Synthetic detergents are among the most commonly used chemicals in the world. On an industrial scale, hundreds of millions of gallons of detergent products are utilized every year to clean products, equipment, and other chemicals. Unfortunately, the metabolites of these common detergents are making their way into waterways in alarming numbers. A 2002 study by the U.S. government, detergent metabolites (particularly 4-nonylphenol) were found in a staggering 69% of streams in amounts of almost 2.5 micrograms/liter. Thirty-three detergent metabolites are scientifically known to be hormonally active for both humans and animals.

Dioxins and Furans

Dioxins and furans make up a group of chemicals formed during common combustion processes such as power generation or fuel burning. They are chemically persistent in both the air and ground soil/groundwater. These are a bi-product of a vast majority of industrial processes in use today including waste incineration, herbicide production, paper production, and more. Dioxins and furans have been shown to build up in the fatty tissues of animals after continuous exposure and one particular member of the chemical family (TCDD) is a known cancer-causing agent. Animals exposed to these chemicals are subject to decreased reproductive functionality and suppressed immune systems.

Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers

Also known as PBDEs, polybrominated diphenyl ethers are commercially-produced flame retardants found on a variety of consumer products and used in an array of industrial processes. The primary method of exposure to PBDEs is within the air, particularly within enclosed spaces where products made with the compounds are manufactured and stored. PBDEs do not dissolve easily in water and are extremely stationary in ground soil. Evidence of the carcinogenic effects of certain PBDEs has been noted in humans. Within animals, PBDEs have been proven to act as endocrine disruptors.

It’s more important than ever for industrial firms to operate as responsible corporate citizens. Mitigating the risk of environmental contamination is a necessary investment in the interest of public safety; Shield Engineering is answering industrial manufacturers’ call for comprehensive, effective contamination prevention.

Through over thirty years in business, Shield Engineering has become one of the foremost names in American environmental engineering. Contact us today to find out how our experienced team can help plan for, test against, and remediate the environmental risks of your facility.


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