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Everyone comes into contact with environmental chemicals every day. Chemicals get into our air, water, soil, dust, and food. There are many natural and man-made chemicals in our environment. For example, chemicals are used to make products such as cosmetics, plastics, cleaning supplies, and electronics.
Cosmetics Cleaners Food

How do chemicals get into our bodies?

Young girl drinking waterThere are many ways environmental chemicals get into our bodies:


Chemicals and our Health
Some environmental chemical exposures are safe and harmless to us, but others can cause diseases or poor health such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, or developmental delays. However, finding a chemical in your body doesn’t mean that you will get sick. People respond to chemical exposures in different ways such as being more sensitive or severe reactions. Whether you get sick depends on many factors, such as which and how much of the chemical gets into your body and personal traits such as your health status, genetics, and behaviors.

Factors that play a part in whether you get sick from chemicals(1):

  • The kind of chemical you are exposed to
  • How much of the chemical you were in contact with
  • How long the contact lasted
  • How it entered your body
  • Your health

(1) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Health Effects of Chemical Exposure Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol.

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New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
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