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Contaminant

Definition - What does Contaminant mean?

A contaminant is either a biological, chemical, physical or radiological substance that becomes harmful for humans or living organisms, when accidentally or deliberately introduced to air, water, soil or food. Contaminants are also known as pollution in environmental science when referring to a pollution on a large scale in relation to humans or living organisms. The Environment Protection Agency (EPA), USA has determined contaminants of concern (COC) to be the chemical substances that pose an excessive or unacceptable risk to human health or to the environment.

Safeopedia explains Contaminant

Contaminants and sources of contaminations are numerous. Breathable air, drinking water, farming soil and essential foods can be contaminated accidentally or deliberately by various contaminants. Many contaminants are found in the natural environment, which are mixed at an acceptable rate for humans and living organisms to process with no adverse health effects. Beyond the acceptable exposure limits, they become harmful for health and sustaining quality of life. Some common contaminants we encounter daily include:

  • Air - radionuclides such as Cesium, Strontium, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH), Sulfur dioxide, Carbon monoxide, Nitrogen oxides, etc.

  • Water - Arsenic, Mercury and Fluoride etc.

  • Soil - Arsenic, Asbestos, Dioxins, Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, Nitrates, Fluorides and radioactive substances etc.

  • Food - Copper, Tin, Iron, Lead or other metal chips, lubricants, cleaning and sanitizing agents, banned pesticide such as Lindane, Formaldehyde, Antimony, Acids, semi-carbazide, Benzophenone, Isopropyl Thioxanthone (ITX), Bisphenol A, Mycotoxins, Phytohaemag glutinin, Pyrrolizidine alkaloids and toxins etc.

This definition was written in the context of Environmental Health & Safety

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