Environmental Contaminants and Health

Many factors can influence human health, including exposure to environmental, physical, chemical, and biological contaminants. Protecting human health from environmental contaminants is integral to EEP’s mission. Some environmental contaminants are considered legacy contaminants, those predating modern environmental statutes. Some pose risks to people for decades because they remain in the environment a long time. Common legacy contaminants include arsenic, lead, chlorinated dioxins, DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). Emerging contaminants, or contaminant of emerging concern (CEC), is a chemical or material characterized by a perceived, potential, or real threat to human health or the environment or by a lack of published health standards. They can refer to many different kinds of chemicals, including medicines, personal care or household cleaning products, lawn care and agricultural products, among others. These diverse compounds are classified as “emerging” because they are often newly identified manufactured or naturally occurring chemicals that are detected in the environment at low levels. This is why, in most cases, CECs do not have applicable regulatory health standards. Click on the links below to learn about some of the common legacy and emerging contaminants of concern in Utah.