What are the Most Common Environmental Hazards?

Tess C. Taylor

In any given day, humans may be exposed to multiple environmental hazards. These hazards can include common household, outdoor or workplace environmental factors. The most common of these environmental concerns are chemical or biological in nature.

Oil spills are one major form of environmental hazard.
Oil spills are one major form of environmental hazard.

Most households or workplaces contain chemicals in the form of cleaning agents, drinking water additives, chemicals in clothing and furniture as well as the agents that are imbedded in building materials like drywall, carpets and paint. In some buildings, people are exposed to health hazards as a result of heating or air conditioning systems. While limited amounts of these chemicals generally stay within safe limits and have no adverse affect on humans; long-term exposure can result in sensitivity reactions in adults and serious problems with children’s health.

Water that is polluted by an oil spill.
Water that is polluted by an oil spill.

In addition to chemicals, people are exposed to many biological agents in the environment. Outside, we can be exposed to cancer-causing sunlight, air and noise pollution, pesticides and even naturally-occurring chemical agents that can cause allergic reactions. Inside, people can be exposed to things like germs and illnesses spread by human contact or artificial additives in food products. Biological agents are responsible for many of the chronic health problems seen today in adults and children.

As for commercial buildings or areas where new construction is occurring, generally it is up to a government administered environmental agency to provide health inspection services. This helps to identify and reduce any possible environmental hazards in order to reduce illness or injury to people who must be in the vicinity. This is especially important to prevent people from falling victim to environmental hazards commonly found in construction materials like paint, treated wood, fiberglass and carpets.

When people hear the phrase “environmental hazard,” they most often think of major commercial-scale disasters such as oil spills or nuclear waste leaks that require years of cleanup. While these events are certainly devastating to the areas in which they occur, its important to remember that there are many environmental hazards in homes and businesses around the world that wreak havoc on people’s lives. With a level of awareness and education, these factors can be managed properly in order to minimize their affect on humans.

With better lifestyle choices, we can prevent and limit exposure to environmental hazards by using natural products to clean with, drinking filtered water, eating organically produced foods and using caution when in environments that may contain a higher than normal level of contaminants. Using the guidelines set forth by the environmental health agencies in the region is a good way to start making changes that will lower the environmental impact these hazards have on daily life.

Protective clothing is required when working in hazardous environments.
Protective clothing is required when working in hazardous environments.

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Discussion Comments


Environmental safety means that these hazards are avoided by whatever means necessary, be they legal or business-related. People should learn to take personal initiative to keep the world clean and healthy based on a personal understanding of the fact that we are harming future generations and our environment if we do not.


Some toxic wastes are radioactive and pose an especially dangerous threat to the environment. These can cause long term damage and need to be dealt with swiftly, to be contained and put out of dangerous locations.


Environmental law is an important study of how the world needs to regulate itself in terms of what it does to the environment. Hazards are harmful to personal health and can also harm animals and plant life. These need to be dealt with in a large quantity via preventative and remedial measures.

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