Research Individual Chemicals:
Each of the pages within ITEP's Hazardous Substance Website will provide possible "Contaminants of Concern" for you to consider when identifying what hazardous substances may exist in your community. However, this is not a comprehensive list and should be used as a tool to expand awareness of possibilities. Some of the most common chemicals people may be exposed to are explored in more detail in "Related Pages."
More than 800 hazardous substances are listed under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) - also known as the Superfund law. These are substances that are considered severely harmful to human health and the environment. Many are commonly used substances which are harmless in their normal uses, but are quite dangerous when released.
Superfund's definition of a hazardous substance includes the following:
- Any element, compound, mixture, solution, or substance designated as hazardous under section 102 of CERCLA.
- Any hazardous substance designated under section 311(b)(2)(a) of the Clean Water Act (CWA), or any toxic pollutant listed
under section 307(a) of the CWA. There are over 400 substances designated as either hazardous or toxic under the CWA.
- Any hazardous waste having the characteristics identified or listed under section 3001 of the Resource Conservation and
- Any hazardous air pollutant listed under section 112 of the Clean Air Act, as amended. There are over 200 substances listed
as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act (CAA).
- Any imminently hazardous chemical substance or mixture which the EPA Administrator has "taken action under" section 7 of the Toxic Substances Control Act.
Hazardous waste is defined under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) as a solid waste (or combination of solid wastes) which, because of its quantity, concentration, or physical, chemical, or infectious characteristics, may: (1) cause or contribute to an increase in mortality or an increase in serious irreversible, or incapacitating illness; or (2) pose a substantial present or potential hazard to human health or the environment when improperly treated, stored, transported, disposed of, or otherwise managed. In addition, under RCRA, EPA establishes four characteristics that will determine whether a substance is considered hazardous, including ignitability, corrosiveness, reactivity, and toxicity. Any solid waste that exhibits one or more of these characteristics is classified as a hazardous waste under RCRA and, in turn, as a hazardous substance under Superfund.
Although the terms "hazardous substance" and "pollutant or contaminant" do not include petroleum or natural gas, ITEP has developed pages discussing petroleum products. EPA conducts emergency responses to incidents involving petroleum and non-petroleum oils separately from its responses to hazardous substance incidents. Throughout the Emergency Response Program, the term "hazardous substance" includes pollutants and contaminants.
In addition to the hazardous substances identified under the Superfund law, the Title III amendments to Superfund, also known as the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), identifies several hundred hazardous substances known for their extremely toxic properties. EPA designated them as "extremely hazardous substances" to help focus initial chemical emergency response planning efforts.
The annotated websites on this page are resources we have identified that provide information specific to thousands of chemicals. They are arranged below by Information Organized by Chemical, Chemical Databases, and Chemical Information.
Information Organized by Chemical
Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry ToxFAQs(TM)
ToxFAQs is a series of summaries about hazardous substances being developed by ATSDR's Division of Toxicology. Information for this series is excerpted from the ATSDR Toxicological Profiles and Public Health Statements. Each fact sheet serves as a quick and easy to understand guide. Answers are provided to the most frequently asked questions about exposure to hazardous substances found around hazardous waste sites and the effects of exposure on human health.
Tox Town provides information in non-technical language on many well-known chemicals found in everyday locations. Chemical information is provided from the TOXNET and MedlinePlus resources of the National Library of Medicine, as well as other authoritative sources.
EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) contains summaries of hazard assessments and EPA regulatory information on over 500 specific chemicals. It is a key source for descriptive and quantitative hazard/risk information, such as oral reference doses and inhalation reference concentrations for chronic, non-carcinogenic health effects; oral slope factors and unit risk for chronic exposure to carcinogens; EPA drinking water health advisories; and summaries of EPA regulatory actions. The system is useful in the risk assessment process.
National Library of Medicine (NLM) TOXNET System makes TRI data and health information accessible to concerned citizens and to businesses and organizations interested in environmental or public health issues. TOXNET provides access to databases on toxicology, hazardous chemicals, environmental health, and toxic releases.
USEPA Chemical Data Access Tool (CDAT) helps you find health and safety information submitted to EPA under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). This information is part of EPA's effort to increase transparency in TSCA information held by the agency and is intended for individuals interested in learning more about chemicals that are manufactured or imported into the United States.
Alaska Traditional Knowledge and Native Foods Database is a tool allowing you to gather information on your community, or similar communities in Alaska. You can read about different contaminants, look up references to other studies, investigate tables showing levels of resource usage or possible levels of contaminants, and customize a search of the databases for places or resources of particular interest to you.
Corrosion Doctors provides information on hazardous substances that are corrosive in order to improve the general awareness of what corrosion is all about, from complicated processes that are at play even behind the simplest corrosion reactions to the impact corrosion may have on systems (pipelines, cars, central heating, etc.) and human health (implants, allergies, toxic metal, etc.).
EPAs Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) is a database containing data on disposal or other releases of over 600 toxic chemicals from thousands of U.S. facilities. It also contains information about how facilities manage those chemicals through recycling, energy recovery, and treatment. One of TRI's primary purposes is to inform communities about toxic chemical releases to the environment.
EPA's Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) is a screening tool developed by EPA that analyzes risk factors to put TRI release data into a chronic health context. RSEI is often used by government regulators, communities, journalists, industry and others to examine trends, identify important emissions situations for follow-up, support community-based projects, and initially screen potential impacts of emissions. Information can be sorted in numerous ways such as by chemical, media, geographic areas, etc.
National Response Center supports an online query system that makes all oil and chemical spill data reported to the Center available online. Searches can be done based on suspected responsible company, location, material involved, state, county, etc. and can be customized for each request.
EPA's existing chemical programs address pollution prevention, risk assessment, hazard and exposure assessment and characterization, and risk management for chemical substances in commercial use. The Agency uses statutory authorities including the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the Pollution Prevention Act and the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act, as well as voluntary activities, in its implementation of these programs. This site provides information on EPA's programs for existing chemicals.
EPA also maintains a website with numerous links About Chemicals, Hazardous Substances, and Oil.
Section 8 (b) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) requires EPA to compile, keep current, and publish a list of each chemical substance that is manufactured or processed in the United States. Chemicals substances on the Inventory include: organics, inorganics, polymers, and UVCBs (chemical substances of unknown or variable composition, complex reaction products, and biological materials). The Inventory covers chemical substances subject to other U.S. statutes, such as foods and food additives, pesticides, drugs, cosmetics, tobacco, nuclear material, or munitions. As part of Administrator Lisa P. Jackson's commitment to strengthen chemical management and increase information on chemicals, for the first time, in 2010, EPA provided free Web access to the Inventory and made it available on Data.gov, a government-wide Website developed to provide public access to important government federal information.
International Programme on Chemical Safety provides access to internationally peer reviewed information on chemicals commonly used throughout the world, which may also occur as contaminants in the environment and food. It consolidates information from a number of intergovernmental organizations whose goal it is to assist in the sound management of chemicals.
United Nations Environment Programme, Chemicals Branch: UNEP Chemicals works to protect humans and the environment from adverse effects caused by chemicals throughout their lifecycle, and hazardous waste. It is the focal point of UNEP activities on chemicals issues and the main force in the UN system for concerted global action on the environmentally sound management of hazardous chemicals.
Toxipedia is a free toxicology encyclopedia offering articles and resources about toxic chemicals (such as pesticides and endocrine disruptors), health conditions, ethical considerations, the history of toxicology, laws and regulation, and more. The goal of this website is to provide scientific information in the context of history, society, and culture so that the public has the information needed to make sound choices that protect both human and environmental health.
Implementing Solutions:Please submit your experiences (successes/challenges) and tribal-specific documents to share on our website using the attached form.
Resources:ATSDR Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals [pdf]
EPA Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics TSCA Work Plan Chemicals Methods Document [pdf]
EPA's Existing Chemicals Program Strategy Overview [pdf]
For more information, please contact:
Todd Barnell, Program Manager
Jennifer Williams, Alaska Program Coordinator, Sr.
Last updated: March 4, 2013