What It’s Used In:As Antioxidant To Keep Food Fresh For Longer
Problems Caused: Cancer/Tumors
While it would be easy for us to simply outright state Butylated Hydroxyanisole is one of the more dangerous ingredients around, we cannot say this. Mostly known as an antioxidant, it has been in use since around 1947. The idea was that it could prevent rancid issues in edible fats and oils. Yet we found out in the 1980s via animal testing that they can potentially cause tumors. This made BHAs sort of stand out as dangerous, considering it seemed that they were carcinogenic. But other studies since have claimed it is an anticarcinogen, muddying the waters a bit for the scientific community.
What It’s Used In:Cleaning and Laundry Products, Soaps, Surfactants
Problems Caused: Cancer
Likely one of the few dangerous ingredients on this list that is much harder to explain than necessary, diethanolamine has salts that have fatty acids. These are formulated into various soaps and surfactants, making them perfect for laundry liquid and dishwashing detergent. However, the surfactant nature they have makes them great for cosmetics, shampoo, and conditioners as well. However, today, we know it’s corrosive. The California Environmental Protection Agency lists it as a carcinogen and New Jersey’s Department of Health listed it as one of their hazardous substances.
What It’s Used In:Outdoor Clothing, Building Materials, Food Packaging
Problems Caused:Heart Disease, Affects Pregnant Women, Increases Chances For Prostate/Bladder Cancer
You’ll likely be able to closely compare Perfluorinated Compounds to PFAs referenced earlier. They do a lot of the same things for the most part. You’ll often see PFCs in food packagings, like what you might see in microwavable popcorn or fast food wrappers. They’re also used to create durable outdoor clothing, capable of handling any weather event. PFCs will also be used for building materials as well. However, it’s one of the more dangerous ingredients to use. It causes pregnancy-induced hypertension, contributes to heart disease, and increases the risk of both prostate and bladder cancer.
Organophosphates are part of several major insecticides, used for taking out insects. They are able to do this by disrupting how their brains and nervous systems operate, thus killing them off. But keep in mind, if they are able to do this to insects then they could an effect on humans. In us, long-term exposure to organophosphates can cause several nervous system issues, leading to things like muscle weakness, numbness, and neuropathy. On top of this, they can affect the brain thus causing confusion, anxiety, loss of memory, depression, and even some personality changes.
Like other things on our list, Propyl Gallate is also used as an antioxidant. It will be added to foods as a way of containing the oils and fats within, to prevent oxidation. Sometimes, you’ll see it added to things like a TV dinner. Other times, it will be simply added to specific foods isolated from others as a mere food additive. While the National Institutes of Health claims propyl gallate is generally safe, they did not go as far as to say it was completely safe. When studied further, scientists found it was an endocrine disrupter, which means it interferes with human hormones. PG is also a suspected carcinogen.
Problems Caused: Increases Inflammation, Obesity, and Oxidative Stress and It’s A Potential Carcinogen
Sodium Benzoate is simply the sodium salt of benzoic acid, which forms when the acid is dissolved in water. This is often why SB is used as a food pickling agent. It is widely used across the food industry though. You’ll see it used to prevent food spoilage, as it can stop harmful bacteria and even mold from forming. It can even slow or prevent changes in color, flavor, texture, and often even the PH balance. Yet this is one of the more dangerous ingredients around today due to its ability to increase inflammation, obesity, and oxidative stress. Sodium Benzoate is also considered a potential carcinogen.
Polychlorinated Biphenyls are mostly used in electrical equipment, such as transformers or capacitors. They are well-liked due to their lack of smell or taste. Plus, they are incredibly stable in extreme temperatures or pressures, especially when used in mixtures. Making them wonderful for scientists. However, PCBs are incredibly dangerous ingredients to use for anything, regardless of what. In fact, the United States banned their use in the country all the way back in 1979. This was due to fining widespread environmental contamination, and negative effects on human health in the form of neurological problems.
Problems Caused:Cancer, Central Nervous System Depressant
This is actually one of the few dangerous ingredients on our list known mostly for how harmful it is to humans than what it assists us with. While it is often used in dry cleaning products, we now don’t see it used nearly as much. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies it as a Group 2A Carcinogen. Tetrachloroethylene is mostly known as a central nervous system depressant, which is alone is enough to dislike its use. But it also dissolves fats from the skin, causing skin irritation. Due to issues surrounding it, the National Institutes of Health has several health and safety guidelines for its use.
Problems Caused:Neurological and Slow Motor Development
Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers are most often found in electrical equipment, construction materials, coating, and more as a flame-retardant substance. PBDEs are tremendous at resisting degradation when exposed to the environment, making them great additions to products to keep them from catching on fire easily. Why are they bad? Children exposed to them have shown to have lower IQs, slower motor development, and poor attention skills. Even adults have shown neurological issues.
Problems Caused:Neurological Issues, High Blood Pressure, Tooth Decay and Discoloration
Most know about Fluoride from the dentist’s office, which can help whiten your teeth. Yet many governments put it into the water supply to help filter out bad bacteria and chemicals, in an effort to give us cleaner drinking water. While there is a lot of good fluorides can do for us, overexposure to it can be harmful to human health. In fact, too much can lead to tooth discoloration and decay. Moreover, it can cause bone weakness, high blood pressure, neurological issues, and much more! We actually have our own human fluoride, but the chemical one helps to add those areas. Too much of it hurts them.
What It’s Used In:Portable Lighters and Stoves, In-Home Heating, Etc.
Problems Caused:Central Nervous System and Cardiovascular Problems
It is likely you know Butane best by its flammable properties, such as what you might see in butane torches. Overall, butane is odorless and colorless, making it a perfect addition to the world of portable lighters, stoves, etc. It is also used for heating too. Of course, the use of butane is still not good for the environment but it’s nowhere near as bad as other gases. Long-term exposure to butane, however, can be toxic. This can happen when it’s used to heat a home or cook food often. Toxicity can lead to central nervous system problems and even cardiovascular issues.
Problems Caused:Damages Liver, Kidneys, Heart, Brain, Heart, Respiratory System
You’ll more often hear of Chloroform from television or movies when it’s used to render someone unconscious. It CAN do this when breathed in with no ventilation. It’s actually formed naturally but can be made in a lab (often using chlorine), making it common in industrial sectors. Due to being colorless and lacking a bad smell, it works well in these settings. Obviously, it can cause respiratory problems as well as damage the liver, kidneys, brain, heart, even bone marrow. At times, it has cause hepatitis too.
What It’s Used In:Glues, Tobacco Products, Gasoline
Problems Caused:Nerve Damage, Leukemia
Benzene is found in a lot of stuff. Due to being heavier than the air, it sinks when released into the environment. You’ll commonly see it in cleaning products, glues, adhesives, and even tobacco smoke and gasoline. In fact, the latter two tend to be the main areas you’ll see benzene in use. While small exposure to benzene isn’t too harmful, long-term exposure can most certainly be a problem. Benzene is known to cause cancer like leukemia and even nerve damage.
Aluminum is used in several areas. Due to being a flexible metal, there have been endless possibilities for it. We see it used in ships, consumer electronics, window frames, power lines, food storage, and much more. While most people won’t ever be overexposed to it, aluminum can cause problems in those that are. If you’re overexposed, you’ll develop aluminum toxicity which can cause neurological issues like speech issues and seizures. In more serious cases, it can cause Alzheimer’s disease.
What It’s Used In: Reusable Water Bottles, Food Containers, Etc.
Problems Caused:Reproductive and Neurological Problems, Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases
You’ve likely seen a lot of issues made about Bisphenol A over the years. Some companies even proudly proclaim their “products are BPA-free,” as a result. You’ll commonly see BPA in polycarbonate plastic. Things like food containers, reusable water bottles, tableware, etc. Yet overexposure to BPA products is toxic, which can cause reproductive issues as well as neurological problems. Among children, it can cause asthma, type 2 diabetes, as well as cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
The most popular use for Chlorine is typically to clean swimming pools. However, it’s also used to make medicines, antiseptics, insecticides, paints, paper products, plastics, dyes, and much more. Of course, you remember other products within these sectors, right? Many are toxic and chlorine is no different. It’s truly one of the most dangerous ingredients one can use. For some, chlorine can cause asthma or skin allergies. For others, it has shown to cause bladder and rectal cancer along with increased heart disease.
What It’s Used In:Soups, Processed Meats, Canned Foods, Etc.
Problems Caused:Metabolic Disorders, Neurotoxic Effects, Problems With Reproductive Organs
Likely the most controversial of all the dangerous ingredients on this list, Monosodium Glutamate is beloved by food companies. This is mostly due to being a useful food enhancer, often used in soups, processed meats, and canned vegetables. Of course, most will recognize the MSG content right away due to its salty taste (the sodium). While the U.S. FDA believes its safe, there is a lot of issues with it. Most feel it is the overexposure we have to them are the true problem. As they can cause metabolic disorders, obesity, neurological issues, and problems with reproductive organs.
What It’s Used In:Industrial Disinfectants, Insulation, Glues and Adhesives, Etc.
Problems Caused:Respiratory Problems, Dermatitis, Etc.
The colorless gas, Formaldehyde, known for its strong smell, is often used in household products. It’s also used for press-wood products, glues and adhesives, on top of some insulation materials. Many will know its smell from hospitals or funeral homes due to it being an incredible disinfectant. However, formaldehyde has a lot of issues. Long-term exposure causes respiratory problems, dermatitis, and much more. Short-term exposure beyond 100 ppm can be immediately life-threatening.
Problems Caused:Lungs and Overall Respiratory System Issues
You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that Nitrogen Dioxide is incredibly dangerous. Most of the uses for it are in pyrotechnics, explosives, rocket fuel, etc. Yet it also operates as an oxidizing agent, and so much more. While the immediate danger is its high rate of flammability and environmental issues, it can do so much more to us. The most common problem people have, outside explosions, is toxicity. This causes immediate issues with the lungs and overall respiratory system.
Problems Caused:Neurological Issues, Kidney and Lung Damage, Respiratory Issues
Can you believe we once used this stuff for so many things? Today, the use of Mercury is almost exclusively used in scientific instruments like thermometers, barometers, and even fluorescent lamps. But not much else. Of course, some mercury is natural like what you get from sea creatures. This is not enough to harm us normally, but the chemical form of mercury can. Inhalation of it can cause severe respiratory issues, damage the lungs and kidneys, and even cause neurological problems.
What It’s Used In:Lunch Meat and Other Packaged Foods
Problems Caused:Heart Disease
Sodium Nitrate is almost impossible to avoid. It is mostly in any packaged product, especially bacon, jerky, hot dogs, lunch meat, and much more. It acts as a food preservative, which tends to work out pretty well. The issue is that, due to our large overexposure to sodium nitrate, we’re likely to experience health complications from it. SN mostly affects our blood vessels, as it damages them and makes them more likely to harden or narrow. Thus causing various heart diseases. Some, such as the World Health Organization, have claimed sodium nitrates could be carcinogenic.
High Fructose Corn Syrup is something we could likely spend an entire article discussing. It mostly operates as a sweetener, which is why it tends to be in a lot of baked goods, soft drinks, and other things like them. Obviously, this is involving sugar which we know is bad for us with long-term use. In spite of what soft drink and food companies want you to believe, HFCS is bad. They cause insulin resistance, obesity, type 2 diabetes, as well as high blood pressure.
Arsenic is one of the most dangerous ingredients one could ever hope to add to something. It has been used in bronzing, pyrotechnics, and the development of specialized glass. On top of preserving wood. However, the U.S. FDA calls it a known carcinogenic as it can cause skin, bladder, and lung cancer. Along with heart disease. This has made it a popular item to poison people with.
What It’s Used In:Ammunition, Weights, Car Batteries, Etc.
Problems Caused: Brain and Kidney Damage
While lead is somewhat naturally occurring, it is one of the most toxic things humans ever used. Today, we still use it for radiation protection, ammunition, car batteries, weights, and storing corrosive liquids. Yet history shows us that lead poisons the human body. It does this by absorbing calcium, harming blood cells. This will then rework our bodies, thus damaging our nerves, blood vessels, and bones. Leading to brain and kidney damage.
Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources: